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Saturday, November 19, 2016

New Pennsylvania law hides some criminal records from prying eyes

by Laurie Mason Schroeder and Riley Yates
Contact Reporters
Of The Morning Call

Putting the folly of your misspent youth behind you just got easier in Pennsylvania as a new law designed to hide old, minor criminal records from public view went into effect in the last week.

The state's limited access law allows people convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes to ask a court to have their records sealed. While law enforcement will still have access to the records, they'll disappear from public online databases — like the ones most employers use while conducting background checks on potential hires.

Lawyers say the change will remove a roadblock for clients who have been haunted by a minor conviction that they've had to explain over and over again while searching for a job or housing.

"We have clients who have completely turned their lives around, but they are being turned down from jobs and graduate programs over minor offenses," Allentown criminal defense attorney Thomas Joachim said.

The law applies to most second- and third-degree misdemeanors — such as drunken driving and most retail thefts — that are punishable by no more than two years in prison. Applicants must have completed their sentence at least 10 years ago, without getting into any further trouble with the law.

The district attorney of the county where the crime occurred can challenge the petition, but the ultimate decision rests with a judge. There's a $132 filing fee and no court hearing is required.


Anonymous said...

If you have gone to jail for 2 years, that is serious, but will be removed from Record? I disagree, if I hire a person who has gone to jail for 2 years for drunk driving, I would want to make my decision based on facts. Then I would either hire on merit, regardless of background, that being my rightful choice. I'm not saying they are all bad, but that should enter into a background check. I wouldn't want to be responsible for this person being drunk on my hire, being responsible legally for a serious situation, that I might be liable for. That choice of taking a chance on a possible repeat offender should be just that, my choice, not the governments.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:19 you did read where it says must be at least 10 years old and in no further trouble to be eligble?

Anonymous said...

Really, no harm is done here, just giving them a chance, to those that have turned their lives around

Anonymous said...

You can tell real quick who is a drinker, or a retail thief, or who was by the way they respond.

Anonymous said...

Should read:

Applicants must have completed their sentence at least 10 years ago, without getting CAUGHT in any further trouble by the law.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to burst your bubble, I'm 3:07, I'm 65 yrs old, never been arrested, I do not drink, I'm not a thief so be careful who your accusing here, I believe in giving everyone a second chance that have changed their lives around, apparently you certainly do not have discernment!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

5.50who accused you of what

Anonymous said...

I've never been arrested, never drank, no retail or other theft, who said you did 5.50

Anonymous said...

Read 4:40 again, who said we must be drinkers or THEIVES b/c of our response, agree with 5:50