Myths About Expungements

The following are Myths About Expungements:

  • Pardon Time: From the time we begin working on your pardon application until the very end of the process, four years is a reasonable estimate for the entire process. The pardon could take more or less time, no one can speed-up the process or jump to the front of the line.  The governor’s office in Harrisburg is involved in the process, therefore different governors will have different people on the staff which causes the timeline to vary.
  • Sealing Records: Pennsylvania does not seal records. There is no such thing as sealing a record under Pennsylvania law. However, beginning in October 2016, a new type of expungement is available for people convicted of Misdemeanors of the second or third degree (M2 or M3), who have been arrest free for ten or more years. There are many exceptions to the rules, and the new expungement will seal the record, not destroy it. 
  • Total Destruction of the Record: when an expungement is granted in Pennsylvania, there is a destruction of all court records and files. However, the District Attorney, in the county of the original case, is allowed to keep a private list of all of the expunged cases to prevent a person from getting ARD twice.
  • Federal Expungements: there is no such thing. Federal expungements do not exist.
  • Federal Pardons: a federal pardon is very similar to a Pennsylvania Pardon, however it’s for federal crimes, not state crimes. Also, when you are granted a federal pardon, all of your rights are restored, but the record still exists.
  • MD Dockets: sometimes there is a case that exists in the Pennsylvania records database with the Pennsylvania State Police, but does not exist in the county in which the arrest occurred. Examples of this are arrests reported to the Pennsylvania state police, the case was dismissed at the magistrate level, but the file was somehow destroyed and the Pennsylvania State Police were not notified. We can expunge this case and have the case removed from the Pennsylvania records database with a miscellaneous docket expungement. We do this all the time. These cases are expungeable.