Monday, June 2, 2008

Pardons and Expungements in Pennsylvania

6/2/2008 - Information on how pardons and expungements in Pennsylvania are handled, how and when to apply, and what criteria is considered.

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A record of arrest or a criminal conviction on your record can cause problems later in life. For that reason, you may want to attempt to remove such things from your criminal record. Basically, in Pennsylvania, there are two ways to remove something from your record: expungement and pardon.

An expungement is one method to remove something from your criminal record; however, only a few things may be expunged from your record. Some examples may include: any offenses for which you received Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) and completed the ARD program successfully; Section 17 disposition for first time drug offenders; arrests for which you were never charged; and charges that were dismissed or for which you were found not guilty.

Expungement procedures vary greatly from county to county in Pennsylvania. If you feel there is something on your criminal record that can be expunged, please contact the legal aid organization that serves your county to get help with filing for the expungement.

Convictions generally cannot be expunged from your record. Convictions include charges to which you have pled guilty or no contest, and charges of which you have been found guilty.

To try and remove any type of conviction from your record, you must use the pardon process. The pardon process is lengthy, and may take up to two to four years to complete.

In order to obtain a pardon application, you must write to the PA Board of Pardons in Harrisburg and request an application. There is small fee to receive an application. You must also obtain your official PA criminal history from the PA State Police which will also require a small fee.

Also, you may want to collect letters of reference, diplomas, work certificates, your resume, and any other documents that show what you have done with your life since the time of the conviction, and how you have tried to learn from your conviction and become a better person and member of society.

Once you receive the pardon application in the mail, it will provide you with instructions on how to complete the process. You must complete the application and send it to the Board of Pardons, along with your official PA criminal history, and the other documentation you have collected.

On the application, you will have to give details of the act that led to your conviction, as well as your reasons for wanting a pardon, and the reasons why you feel the Board of Pardons should grant your request. You will then be notified whether or not you have received a public hearing in front of the Board of Pardons. At that hearing, you will explain in person your desire for a pardon, along with the reasons you feel you deserve the pardon.

If the Board of Pardons recommends a pardon, it then must be approved by the Governor of PA. More information can be found at the Board of Pardons website.

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