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On September 27, the Pennsylvania’s Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill (SB 1220) sponsored by Senator Tim Solobay that would, if enacted, allow persons convicted of certain misdemeanors to clear the conviction off their records.

In order for a misdemeanor conviction of the second or third degree to be expunged under current Pennsylvania law, the person with the record must either reach the age of 70 or die. Senate Bill 1220 would amend the current expungement law, 18 PACSA § 9122, in order to greatly help persons with minor convictions who have avoided further arrests or convictions move on with their lives, find gainful employment, and generally assimilate back into normal life.

Under the proposed amendment, a person convicted of a misdemeanor in the second degree would be eligible to expunge that conviction from his or her record after 10 years without an arrest or prosecution. In the case of a misdemeanor conviction in the third degree, the time period would be 7 years.

Certain crimes would not be expugnable under this amendment, specifically those punishable by imprisonment of more than two years, four or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of one or more years, simple assault, indecent assault, second degree misdemeanors committed after the person reached the age of 25, and crimes relating to animal abuse or firearms.

The impetus for this amendment comes primarily from concerns about the rising cost of imprisonment and the bleak, stark reality facing people trying to find employment while having a record. A release on Senator Solobay’s website states that Pennsylvania’s prison population has jumped from just over 8,000 to more than 51,000 in the past 20 years, and costs have risen 37 percent in the past 10 years. Experts have testified that part of the problem is recidivism, exacerbated by a convict’s difficulty finding a job.

A study by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that more than 80 percent of employers conduct background checks on potential job applicants.  “Even misdemeanors that are 7 or 10 years old can be a significant barrier to employment.  So Senator’s Solobay’s bill will be welcome relief for those who want to stop being defined and denied jobs because of low level offenses that were committed many years ago,” said Attorney Mathew K. Higbee, an attorney who specializes in expungement.

“It’s tough for anyone these days,” Solobay said. “But someone with even a minor criminal record has almost no chance. That raises the chances of returning to prison at a taxpayer cost of more than $30,000 a year. This bill will give some offenders a second chance and hopefully save taxpayers that cost.”

– Matt Slezak, JD Law Clerk

Written by Record Clearing

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2 Responses Leave a comment

  1. carolyn J. pittman says:

    I am 70 yrs old and trying to get a job. Because I have charges on my record from my pass I can’t acquire gameful employment. I would like to clear my record. How do I do it? I am on a small fixed income. where do I go. Who do I see?

  2. Chris Bernard says:

    Anyone looking for an update for SB1220? There was recently a new bill introduced that might help a lot of Pennsylvanians. Check SB391 out on, there’s a lot of information on the web about how it can help thousands get their records expunged.

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