Clean Slate program goes automated

Posted by Community Legal Services on July 16, 2019

Clean Slate law erases records of millions of arrests, convictions

Forty million.

That’s the number of criminal charges in Pennsylvania that are now eligible for automatic sealing due to the second phase of the state’s Clean Slate law which began Friday, June 28, 2019.

While law enforcement will still be able to pull up arrests and convictions, the public — including landlords and most employers — will not. They’ll be hidden — as if they never happened, potentially giving thousands of Pennsylvania residents a second chance.

The law applies to non-convictions, summary offenses, and most nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, including drunk driving, shoplifting and prostitution.

When Clean Slate took effect in December, residents with those kinds of records needed to hire lawyers and go to court to get them sealed. Starting Friday, the automation process can start once a judge signs off on a batch of eligible charges.

“It’s the first day in the history of the United States that records will be sealed by automation. And it is quite possible that, in the first week, more cases will be sealed by automation than have ever been sealed in the entire history of the United States,” said Sharon Dietrich, litigation director at Community Legal Services, the nonprofit that helped craft Clean Slate, which garnered overwhelming bipartisan support in the General Assembly.

Non-convictions can be sealed after 60 days; convictions after a decade, as long as another crime has not been committed since. All court fines and fees also have to be paid in full.

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