New Pennsylvania Expungement Law

In February of 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed in to law Pennsylvania Senate Bill 166, broadening Pennsylvania Expungement Law. The new expungement law creates 9122.1. The new Pennsylvania Expungement Law creates a new class of expungements. Most misdemeanors of the second and third degree are now expungeable. The law will take effect in October 2016. 

The new Pennsylvania expungement law allows for the expungement of convictions for misdemeanors of the 2nd or 3rd degree (often notated as M2 or M3), after ten years have passed and the person is conviction free. The crime cannot be punishable by more then two years maximum. 

Many exceptions to the rule exist. If any apply, you are not eligible for the new class of expungement. 

  • Four or more convictions punishable for one or more years. 
  • Simple Assault M2
  • Sexual Intercourse with Animals 3129
  • Impersonating a Public Servant 4912
  • Intimidation of a witness 4952
  • Retaliation 4953
  • Retaliation, Intimidation, Obstruction in regard to child abuse investigation 4958
  • Any crime involving sex offender registration under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 97

The main difference between the new class of expungement and the legacy expungement is the way the records are reported and maintained. When an expungement is granted under the original 9122, an Order accompanies expungement for all authorities to destroy the records, including but not limited to the photos, finger prints, the state police records, the CPCMS records, and all county records. 

Under  new Pennsylvania expungement law, 9122.1, law enforcement is required to maintain a record of the conviction, but is no longer allowed to disseminate the records to anyone outside of law enforcement. The Order from the Common Pleas Court Judge will now be called “Limited Access.” This means the Pennsylvania State Police may maintain the record, but may not disseminate the record to an individual, a noncriminal justice agency or an internet website.

The “Limited Access” Order, makes the new expungement similar to other states’ sealing a conviction. While the title of the new law is still an expungement, the actual effect is to seal the record. 

Clearly, the new expungement will NOT allow anyone to have their gun rights restored. The new expungement will not prevent a district attorney from arguing about the old conviction in a new conviction at future sentencing.  As to question of professional licensure, the agency issuing the license will tell us whether they will accept the new form of expungement. 

An open question remains as to the role of the new expungement in pardon process. When the expungement law changed years ago to allow for the expungement of summary convictions, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons stopped considering summary convictions for pardons and would no longer except applications. Under the new expungement law, the operation of the “Limited Access” Order and the pardon process are unclear. I will follow up with another article or comment regarding the new expungement and the pardon process in Pennsylvania at a later date. 

79 comments on “New Pennsylvania Expungement Law

    1. Now sure I understand the question. If you were not convicted of the more serious charges, but were convicted of lesser charges, I can file a redaction to remove the more serious charges for which you were not convicted. If this is not your question, email me or fill out the form and we can discuss it.

  1. I thought I would be happy when this new expungement law went into effect, but unfortunately I’m not. I will still be shackled with the mistakes, and the unforgiving judicial system that I currently live in. I guess 16 years is not enough punishment for a M2 simple assault that was more like resisting arrest for trying to see my first newborn son. My misdemeanor seem to carry the banishment of a felony. Lost and confused!

    1. You should get a copy of the file from the clerk of courts in the county of your conviction and make sure it went in as an M2. Simple Assault can be an M3 and is expungeable. If the official documents from the plea do not say whether the guilty is of M2 or M3, you may have an argument for expungement. Also, you can go for a pardon.

  2. In 2012 I received a M3 for simple assault and it was my first crime ever and for sure my last. I been clean of any trouble since 2012 and I never been I trouble with the law. I see PA is coming out with a new law. Will this new help me to expunge my records? I been having trouble get a job because of this M3. Any advice or help would be great full

  3. Someone used my name and was arrested and charged. On my record it had felony 3 with jail time. I went to court and Philadelphia court removed it and gave me offical documents. Would I need to file and expungement To have it removed from the state record?

  4. I was convicted of a drug felony in 1999. I now have a family and would like my rights restored, and the ability to defend my family. Is an expungement viable in my case?

  5. Is it expungement or sealed? I understand the difference to be expungement it is deleted and sealed it means it exists but cannot be shared. I ask because other websites are reporting it as sealed, yours says expungement.

    I have to charged 18 3922 A1 and 18 4105 A1, Theft by Deception and Bad Check. Offense was 01-18-2005 and it was closed on 8-24-2005. I plead guilty. Happened in Snyder County. Any idea what the cost would be to get these expunged?

    1. I’m not sure I understand your question. If you plead guilty, you have to go for a limited access expungement, which is the same as having it sealed. As for the cost, you have to contact the clerk of the county and ask. It should be under $200 per filing/case.

  6. I was convicted of a misdemeanor for cannabis in pa in 08, and completed all necessary court requirements. In 2011 I was convicted of a simple assault charge in Colorado. Has this second charge made me unable to get the pa cannabis charge expunged ever?

  7. I received a conviction of M2 reckless endangerment of another person in 2009. By this new law as i understand it, i can have it expunged in 2019? And what is the cost? This is my only offense and it is prohibiting me from volunteering at my kids’ school and getting certain jobs.

    1. You can file for a limited access expungement ten years after the end of your supervision; this is like sealing the record. The cost is different in every county. I cannot comment on volunteering at schools because the school can make its own decision.

  8. I’m was burdened with an M1 for theft by deception conviction in May of 2009. I plead nolo contender. No offenses since. Any hope of an expungement or other relief?

  9. So I had 3 dui’s within a 5 year period between ages 18-21. I’m now 33. Can I get some of them expunged and purchase a handgun? None were involving an accident. Seems ridiculous to me that I cannot purchase a gun because of mistakes from so long ago. I’ve had no police contact since.

  10. In 2000 i received a M1 Firearm not to be carried without a licence and M2 Driving under the influence of alcohol. Can this be easily expunged being 16 years ago?

  11. I have a misdemeanor simple assault charge that I was found guilty of in 1990. I not sure if it is M2 or M3 it does state on my background check. Also, I was sentenced to six months non-reporting probation at the time, but my background check that it was for one year. Do I have any chance of getting this charge off my record once and for all no other charges or convictions.

  12. I had a dui in 2013 my second one my first was in 2010 and got ard so first got expunged. Is there any way I can pay to have the second one expunged before 10 year period is up ?

  13. I was convicted of possession and intent to deliver a illegal substance (Crack cocaine) in 2005 in pa …. This was my first and only offense i did a ard program per court order sucessfully completed it finished probation which was 2yrs with six months house arrest since then I haven’t been in any trouble maintained steady employment…. I was reading about being able to get a expungement because of attending the ard program but I was told I couldn’t recieve it because of it being a felony…. I wanted to know if you knew anything about this process or anything I could do to try and get my record clean it’s really holding me back from a better job and life…. Not making any excuses but I was young and made 1 mistake and I payed my debt to society and turned my life around why must I pay for it my whole life

  14. Am I understanding this correctly?? Even if the expundgment is approved, one would still be unable to get a concealed carry permit in PA??

    1. If the expungement is the normal expungement then you should be able to get it. If the expungement is a limited access expungement, the issuing authority would be able to see the old conviction and may deny you the permit.

  15. When I was 19 I was convicted of burglarizing 3 camps. We were young, dumb and looking for beer. I was sentenced to 2-4 years but was released in 15 months on account of completing the Pennsylvania boot camp program. I am now 36 years old and am fortunate enough to have a good job but I was wondering if it was possible for someone under my circumstances to be able to have my record expunged.
    Thank you for your advice

  16. I have a 3rd degree felony from 1983 . I have been trying since 1995 to have it removed from my record. Spent close to $30,000 so far. Tried board of pardons twice , they wont give me a hearing. tried coldnt get a public defender and couldnt afford a jury trial . so I did what I had to do. That was 33 years ago. I have since , raised a family , bough , own and operate a tree farm along with 2 other business’ . Strong ties to the community and have raised money for fallen officers families and still do. Im a Notary officer for the commonnwealth . I have pass homeland security checks to own and transport explosives etc. But not once in 25 years of trying did anyone ask….what happened that night? The justice system sure has is flaws. In my life I never commited a violent act. I do have other things on my record from back then , a bag of pot. a DUI. We have local police officers with that kind of thing on their record. I would just like a chance to be heard.

  17. I am trying to get an F3 receiving stolen property and criminal tresspass 1998 and convicted in 2003, DUI first offense 2008,possession of sm amt of narcotic misdemeanor in 2008 off my criminal background check/record . Is there any way to do this? Either through expungement or sealing the of my records? I am willing to do or pay whatever it takes. I live in Pennsylvania. Btw- No criminal history besides that. Nothing before-nothing after.

  18. Once charges are expunged, how long does it take for the Pennsylvania online docket system to be updated? I ran a background check and it came through fine. However, the PA Online Docket System still shows everything, including probation being Active. Probation was completed almost 6 years ago. Is there a statutory requirement as to how many days the County has to update the online docket system? There were two counties involved. The county where the incident occurred and the county where probation was monitored. The county where the incident occurred is correct. The county where probation was transferred to still won’t update the record and they were included in the expungement order.

  19. One of my parishioner has a felony sex offence with a minor on his record. He is 86 years old and has not committed any offences at all since being release a few years ago. Can he get his expunged or sealed on the merit of age other circumstances?

  20. What happens if you have all (M1, M2 and M3) existing on a records; is there any way to have just the M2 and M3’s removed from the record through this new law? Then possibly pursue the pardon for the M1 after the others have been removed.

  21. What about a felony for manufacture, deliver or possession with intent to deliver? I was caught growing marijuana in my home. At the time the plants were seized they weighed less than a gram in total weight. Will I ever be able to move forward without this hanging over my head?

  22. Awaiting to see masjestrate MDJ-23-3-04 in Fleetwood Pa. Charge 18/4906/B1 M3 do I need someone to represent me, I work at a good company made a dump choice filed a false police report..

  23. MY daughter plead guilty to M2 “Attempted” Simple Assault about 11 years ago.. Is that excluded for expungement purposes the same as M2 Simple Assault. She did not actually ever touch anyone.

  24. I was charged in 2001 for unlawful taking m1 and theft m1 now I have not been in trouble for almost15 years could I have my record expunged or pardoned?

  25. Hello, I was charged with possession of a controlled substance in 2003. I have not been in trouble since and because it has been over 10 years is this charge under the new statutes eligible for expungement. I am just finishing medical school and fear this may prevent me from getting a job.

  26. My question is I have two retail thefts on my record. The first one was changed from a summary – Retail Theft to a summary – disorder conduct obscene lang/gest. I was told that I will qualify for an expungment of the retail theft charge since I was not found or pled guilty. The charge was in 2012. Second offense was in 2014. Since I already had a retail theft on my record the second one I was charged with M2 -Receiving Stolen & M2 – Retail Theft Take Mdse. Both charges were dismissed and I pled guilty to a Summary Retail Theft and the charge lowered to a Non traffic citation. Again I was told that in five years not ten I would qualify for an expungement of the two M2 charges (misdemeanors) but because I actually pled guilty to the Summary Retail Theft charge that remains. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I know your will say “commit the crime do the time”. I have been fortunate enough to avoid probation and jail time. I want so bad for this all to be erased. After telling my story my question is. Can the retail theft charge I pled quilty to be expunged in 10 years? Should I wait and apply for an expungement of both charges the 2012 & 2014 at the same time or should I apply now for the 2012 charges now since I have reached my 5 year window.? Also would they honor the 2012 expungement since I was charged with a second crime w/in 5 years of the 1st crime.? Any answers you can give would greatly be appreciated.

  27. If someone had a M2(simple assult) in 2002, and there was at least 10 years in between an M3 ( mutual combat), 2014, can the original M2(simple assult) be expundged?

  28. hello,
    In 2004 I was arrested for retail theft and case was dismissed after paying the fine. Can i get those records expunged please.
    My wife was named an associate in that and she need to get records expeunged too.
    thnx a lot

  29. Back in 1986 I was arrested for shop lifting in Pennsylvania.. I now live in South Carolina and went to a class for my license to carry and they denied me cause of that.. now I had a license to carry in Pa. why can I not get on here? Will it benefit me to have it expunged?
    Thank you for any advice

  30. In 1974 when I was 19 years old I was convicted of a 3rd° misdemeanor possession small my marijuana I took a plea deal I am now 63 years old I understand because it’s a misdemeanor but tied to a drug have to wait till I’m 70 years old to apply for expungement is that true and if so can I get the right To a concealed carry permit after that is done

  31. I plead guilty to a paraphernalia charge (weed pipe) in 2000. A few years ago I purchased a firearm but was denied a concealed carry permit because of that conviction. Because I plead guilty, will this law still help me expunge my record, and if it does, will it help with the permit? I have no charges or convictions prior or after that 2000 arrest. Thanks for any input.

    1. If you get a limited access expungement, the record is sealed. However, the government can still see the original conviction. The same government that issues the license to carry concealed. I cannot say whether they will issue you a license to carry concealed if the record is sealed.

  32. Hello, I have misdemeanors charges in 2004 & 2006, no felonies. However I am still.paying off the fines, I mail a payment in pretty much every month to Media, PA. Am I able to have these records expunged or limited access attached? If so I would like to start process.
    Thank You HK

  33. Hello, I have a M3 conviction for a DUI in 2005. I haven’t been in trouble since. Is there any chance to get my gun rights back, other than a Pardon.

  34. I have 2 M1’s, Simple assault and endangering welfare of a minor. The one M2 reckless endanger another person. Been 17 years. They are child abuse related and I am trying to get them off my record. My life is clean now and I have custody of my kids. I am a firefighter and looking to get into a really good city job. However passing the background and child abuse kill my chances. What can I do?

  35. You said that expungement does not give you your gun rights back. The Lautenburg amendment specifies that it does. “(6) the conviction has not been expunged or set aside, or the convicted offender has not been pardoned for the offense or had civil rights restored, unless the pardon, expungement, or restoration of civil rights provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess or receive firearms.” I was charged with Disorderly conduct 5503 M3 in 1990, six years before this law was passed. So are you telling us that I could get my conviction expunged but they will add an exemption for gun possession? I have never been in trouble before or since and the circumstances did not involve violence, just shouting match. My understanding is that since the new expungement law was enacted the pardon borough will not even consider misdemeanor pardons. I read through Title 18 § 9122. Expungement. and did not see any language that an expungement can not be used to regain your rights.

    1. In my opinion only, I do not think they will grant you a license to carry under your situation even if we get it expunged. However, there are things we have done for other clients in federal court to have their gun rights restored based on an expungement theory. Its not so easy of a task.

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