Is My Criminal Record in Pennsylvania Automatically Expunged After Completion of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
The most well-known, and perhaps greatest, benefit of the ARD program for criminal offenders in Pennsylvania is the “expungement,” or removal, of criminal records pertaining to an eligible or qualifying ARD offense. The offering of this benefit is consistent with the ARD program’s mission to encourage offenders to make a fresh start after participation in a rehabilitative program by offering them the possibility of a clean record if they successfully complete the program. Expunging a criminal record can positively benefit an individual in numerous ways, including in the areas of future education, employment, and involvement in the community. For example, the expungement of one’s criminal record will permit a job applicant with a qualifying criminal offense to inform employers that he has never been convicted. Further, expungement can prevent denial of eligibility for student loans and allow for admission to colleges, universities, and professional schools that might otherwise be denied admission based on the existence of a criminal record. Expungement may also provide such other benefits as allowing an individual to possess or own a firearm (if otherwise eligible) and to hold certain professional licenses that are restricted by criminal convictions.
Generally, expungement is the process of “removing from general review” the records pertaining to an arrest, citation, or adjudication of summary or criminal charges. However, not all criminal records are eligible for expungement, and the records may not completely “disappear.” Records may still be available to law enforcement and may still be considered a prior conviction for some purposes.
If an individual successfully completes ARD, the District Attorney will dismiss the charges against her. In most cases, the offender’s charges will be expunged, or wiped away, from the individual’s criminal record and they will not appear on a background check. For ARD cases after April 1, 2013, upon successful completion of an individual’s ARD agreement, with all supervision ended and all cost and fines paid, the Court in some counties will automatically dismiss the charges against the individual and his criminal record will be expunged pursuant to Rules 319 and 320 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. In other counties, expungement requires a separate filing of a petition in order to ensure an individual’s criminal record is properly expunged. However, for cases between June 1, 2011 and March 28, 2013, expungement is not automatic for ARD cases. In these cases, the court has discretion to grant or deny the request for expungement.
The attorneys at Tanner Law Offices can assist you or your loved ones in the process of expunging your criminal record after successful completion of ARD. Please contact our office at 717-731-8114 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.