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New Pennsylvania Bill Could Allow Criminals to Seal Their Records From the Public

A new law in Pennsylvania is aimed at potentially allowing criminals to seal part of their records from the public. According to an article on Newsworks.org, Pennsylvania lawmakers quietly reintroduced the bill that would seal criminal records that may keep residents from getting an apartment, a job, or other life necessities.

“SB 529, better known as ‘Clean Slate,’ would allow state police and the courts to automatically seal all non-violent misdemeanor convictions, including ones for theft, drug possession, and drunken driving,” the article reads. “The measure also covers arrests that didn’t result in convictions because they ‘may be inherently harmed by the maintenance of that record and have a constitutional presumption of innocence.’”

Read more: Criminal Defense Lawyer, Pennsylvania

Anyone interested in qualifying for Clean Slate would have to be conviction-free for at least 10 years and have paid all court fees that are tied to their case.

“That will allow for someone who’s paid their price to become a productive member of society,” state Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia), one of the measure’s prime sponsors said in the article.

The bill’s lead sponsor is State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York). Thousands of people would be able to seal their records if the bill passes.

Executive Director Mike Lee said the bill would stop people from “self-selecting themselves.”

“People are so afraid of being identified as having a criminal record that they’re not even trying for opportunities that are available to them,” said Lee.

Currently, the only way for someone to seal their former misdemeanor crime is to get a lawyer and attend a hearing, sometimes multiple hearings. The process of doing so can sometimes take an entire year or more.

“Before Act 5, passed in November, the only way to seal or expunge these records was with a pardon from the governor. The effort often takes five years to finish if everything goes smoothly,” the article reads. “The bill, projected to save money by reducing supervision costs and increasing tax revenues, has bi-partisan support and has been publicly backed by Gov. Tom Wolf.”

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