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Criminal charges sealed automatically under Pa. Clean Slate law

In December 2018, Pennsylvania passed a Clean Slate law that would seal the records of people with arrests and convictions on certain nonviolent misdemeanor charges. At that time, however, the people affected had to take the step of going to court and making a request to have the records sealed. As of Friday, as a result of an innovation unprecedented in this country, sealing the records can take place via an automated process.

The number of charges eligible for automatic sealing in Pennsylvania is currently 40 million. The Clean Slate law affects people with arrests or convictions related to drunk driving, prostitution, shoplifting and other similar nonviolent misdemeanor charges on their records. It also applies to summary offenses and to arrest records with no convictions. 

To be eligible to have one's record sealed under Clean Slate, one has to have paid all court fees and fines and to have not committed any other crimes in the interim. Convictions qualify after 10 years, while only 60 days must pass before a non-conviction qualifies. Sealing the records means that they will no longer be available for the public to view. That includes prospective employers and landlords. However, law enforcement will still have access to sealed records. 

Currently, Pennsylvania is the only state to allow for automatic sealing, although other states have similar clean slate measures in place. The estimate is that the stockpile of eligible criminal records statewide will take court administrators a year to get through. People with questions regarding past or present drunk driving charges may wish to contact an attorney. 

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