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The Difference Between Dismissal and Expungement

When you are charged with any suspected crime ranging from summary offenses to felonies, the case will be recorded as an active criminal charge on the state judiciary website. If you have the charges dismissed for any reason, you will face no legal consequences. However, potential employers may see that you were once charged with a crime and they might hold this against you. The only way to truly clear your record is by going through a subsequent procedeure known as expungement.

What is expungement?

Expungement is effectively a destruction of all public record of an alleged criminal offense. It can be done either following dismissal or, if a conviction results, after aperiod of time expires withiout the comission of a subsequent offense. It cannot and does not cause the destruction of a private record of the allegation which may appear in newspaper articles or through the collection of data by private data collection firms that serve companies performing background checks.

What happens after expungement?

Once expungement has been successfully processed, a potential employer will see a clean record, unless the charge has been publicized or has been collected by a data harvesting firm as discussed above.

In Pennsylvania, convictions of summary offenses may generally be expunged in 5 years without a second offense. More serious misdemeanors require 10 years or more before expungement can take place.

Source: Clear up My Record, "Reasons For Expunging Dismissals & Not Guilty Findings," accessed Nov. 17, 2017

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