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Pennsylvania Criminal Law

Expungement, Clean Slate, Pardons

The Pennsylvania Criminal History Information Act (July 16, 1979, P.L.116, No.47, effective January 1, 1980), codified at 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 91, includes information regarding the expungement of a criminal record.

Pennsylvania statute defines "expunge" as "(1) To remove information so that there is no trace or indication that such information existed; (2) to eliminate all identifiers which may be used to trace the identity of an individual, allowing remaining data to be used for statistical purposes; or (3) maintenance of certain information required or authorized under the provisions of section 9122(c) (relating to expungement), when an individual has successfully completed the conditions of any pretrial or posttrial diversion or probation program." 18 Pa.C.S. § 9102.

Court procedures on the expungement process can be found in the court rules at Pa.R.Crim.P. Chapter 4, Part H (for summary cases) and Pa.R.Crim.P. Chapter 7, Part C (for court cases).

Forms for expungement are available for free online from the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania. County court websites may also include forms for expungement.

Additional information may be found in other resources. See below for more details.

Those interested in expungement may also want to look at Pa.R.Crim.P. 490, Pa.R.Crim.P. 490.1Pa.R.Crim.P. 790, and 18 Pa.C.S. § 9122.

For expungement of juvenile records, look at Pa.R.J.C.P. 170-173 and 18 Pa.C.S. § 9123.

Expungement Forms

The following free online resources include forms for expungement in Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Courts Forms Center - Trial Division - Criminal
Includes "Petition for Expungement Pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 490" and "Petition for Expungement Pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 790".

Philadelphia Courts Forms Center - Family Court - Juvenile
Includes "Juvenile Expungement Petition".

Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania Forms: For the Public
Includes "Petition for Expungement Pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 490" and "Petition for Expungement Pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 790".

Treatises and Practice Aids

The following member database includes information regarding pardons in Pennsylvania. Members must be logged in to to access this database. This database is also available in the library.

Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia
Available on the LexisNexis Digital Library. See "Criminal Law" Chapter 41: Pardon (vol. 20).
Also on the library's Lexis computers and in print.

The following print resources include information regarding expungement and pardons. Some resources published by LexisNexis and West/Thomson Reuters may be available on the library's Lexis and Westlaw computers. See below for more information.

Pennsylvania Criminal Practice West/Thomson Reuters
Also on the library's Westlaw computers.
See Chapter 35: Criminal Records and Expungement. Library also has previous edition: see all.

Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia LexisNexis
Also on the library's Lexis computers and the LexisNexis Digital Library.
See "Criminal Law" Chapter 41: Pardon. Library also has previous edition: see all.

In conjunction with its continuing legal education courses, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) produces many books each year covering various criminal law topics, including expungement and pardons. Some of these concentrate on more specific or unusual areas of the law. When a researcher has difficulty finding an answer in the manuals or form books, it is a good idea to turn to a PBI publication for guidance.

32nd Annual Criminal Law Symposium
See Chapter M, Section 2: Expungements: The Silver Lining of the Crimes Code; Chapter M, Section 3: Under Pressure: The Dilemma for the Accused and Their Advocates Concerning Guilty Pleas and Partial Expungement.

34th Annual Criminal Law Symposium
See Chapter R: Expunge or Petition for Limited Access.

Clean Slate CLE

Criminal Law Symposium 2019

See Chapter AA: Clean Slate: Automated and Expanded Sealing in Pennsylvania Eliminates the Lifelong Consequences of a Criminal Record. 

Criminal Law Symposium 2018
See Chapter MM: Second Chances: Expungement and Pardon Hearings.

Sentencing in Pennsylvania State Courts
See Chapter 5, Section 4: Expungement Checklist.

Clean Slate

The Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 56 of 2018, known as "Clean Slate" (2018, June 28, P.L. 402, No. 56). This act was enacted on June 28, 2018 and created an automated process to seal certain criminal and non-conviction records. It also expanded the number of misdemeanor convictions that can be sealed once the court has been petitioned. This law does not expunge a criminal record. Law enforcement and judicial officers continue to have access to this information. It does, however, limit who may view the information and restricts public viewing.

The legal aid organizations have developed guides to help people understand who is eligible for Clean Slate:
From Community Legal Services (CLS). Provides information and, after signing up, offers a comprehensive guide on how to view your record and get ready for sealing.

PA Board of Pardons (BOP)

The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons (BOP) "hears and acts upon applications for" pardons and commutation of sentences (37 Pa.Code 81.211). Its authority comes from Pennsylvania Constitution Art. IV, § 9. See also 61 Pa.C.S. § 7301 and 37 Pa.Code Ch. 81.

The BOP website contains information on the application practice, the BOP Rules and Regulation, and statistics: