The state of Pennsylvania, according to Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack, believes in punishment for wrongdoing, but also believes in giving people a second chance. A new law, signed by Governor Tom Wolf, targets people who have made a mistake, but attempts to return them to being productive members of society.
Under the new law, sponsored by Republican Senator Stewart Greenleaf, but supported from both sides of the political aisle, people with certain misdemeanors may petition the court to have records of a conviction sealed, contingent upon meeting certain conditions:
- The misdemeanors that can be sealed are generally 2nd and 3rd degree misdemeanors, and ungraded crimes carrying a sentence of two years or less
- To qualify to have those records sealed, applicants must have been free of arrest and conviction for at least 10 years; must have never been convicted of a felony, first-degree misdemeanor or second-degree simple assault; and must have a total of fewer than four misdemeanors.
- Applicants must have paid all fines and costs assessed for any conviction
- Applicants must also pay a processing fee of $132, though the court has discretion to waive that fee
There is substantial benefit to having such records sealed. They would no longer be available to the public, including employers conducting background checks on a job applicant. The records, would, though, still be accessible by state licensing agencies and law enforcement officials.
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