Pennsylvania first state to employ automatic record sealing via ‘Clean Slate Law’

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania has begun sealing low-level, nonviolent criminal records as part of a law signed last year by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Act 56 of 2018, known as the Clean Slate law, automatically seals from the public the records of all summary convictions that are 10 years old.

The law also limits public access to certain second- or third-degree misdemeanor convictions, but not records of serious crimes such as endangering a person, sexual offenses, animal cruelty, and corruption of minors.

The law does not expunge convictions, and records sealed from public view are still available to police, courts and prosecutors.

The first part of the law took effect in December and allowed people to petition the courts for their records to be sealed if they have been free from convictions for 10 years.

The second part of the law taking effect Friday allows automatic sealing of records after 10 years with no action required. An estimated 30 million records are expected to be sealed through the automated process during the next year.

The law also seals records of charges that were dropped and cases were people were found not guilty.

Wolf said enacting the law would make it easier for people to reduce the stigma they face when looking for employment and housing.

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