What exactly is a criminal record? A criminal record is a record of any time that you have ever been arrested and fingerprinted. Even if you were arrested at age 18 and you are now 54, your criminal record may still be listed in the criminal justice system.
The criminal justice system keeps this information on file, even if you were never convicted of a crime and even if the case was dismissed.
What’s the problem with a criminal record?
The trouble with a Pennsylvania criminal record is that it is public and can be easily found. For example, for a small fee, there are online companies that will provide information about whether you have ever been arrested to anyone, from a potential employer to a bank loan officer to a romantic interest or a friend, or someone who is hoping to hurt you by digging up “dirt” against you.
It is possible to clean up a criminal record. Cleaning up a criminal record is also called expunging the record. This means that any arrest records, including police documents and court records, are removed from the possibility of public inspection across all state agencies that have a record of your arrest.
In Pennsylvania and most other states, you can get arrests removed from a criminal record. It is generally possible to expunge the record if:
- The charge against you was dismissed
- The charge against you resulted in probation and not a criminal decision against you
- The charge against you was not prosecuted by the Pennsylvania state attorney
- Your case was postponed indefinitely
- Your case was compromised
- You were found not guilty in court
Other reasons to review your criminal record include that mistakes may have been made and the record may not be accurate. If the crime committed occurred when you were a juvenile, your record should be sealed. However, if due to bureaucratic error it is still circulating in the criminal justice system, any potential employers can find it.
Also, a record may have information that is not complete. For example, you may have been arrested, but the record may not specify what happened, even though the case was dismissed. Someone reading the record may assume the worst — that you were convicted and are guilty. The expungement process is complicated, and you need to know who to contact and how to complete the paperwork involved in getting arrests removed from public view. There is often a waiting period between the time of your arrest and the time you can have the record sealed.
Clear Your Criminal Record and Seal It from Public View
Find out if it is possible for you to clear any arrests from your criminal record. Please contact the Harrisburg, PA, law firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation with Roger Laguna or Laura Reyes Maloney: 717-233-5292. You may also contact us online.