Greenleaf’s Legislation to Expunge Minor Criminal Records Signed into Law

Today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf’s SB 166 into law, allowing individuals who have served a sentence for nonviolent third and second degree misdemeanors to petition the court to completely erase their criminal histories from public view.

“A low-level misdemeanor in one’s past is often a barrier when seeking employment, long after they have completed their sentence,” said Senator Greenleaf. “A number of states have expanded their expungement laws to reduce the period during which a minor criminal record can punish people. Getting people back to work is not only the right thing to do, but it also decreases the chances that they will commit another crime.”

SB 166 provides for an order of limited access for second and third degree misdemeanors, meaning that these criminal histories would still be available to law enforcement, but not available to potential employers. An individual may petition the court for an order of limited access after 10 years of maintaining a crime-free record. Second and third degree misdemeanors include crimes such as criminal trespassing, vandalism, or indecent assault.

SB 166 provides neither expungement nor orders of limited access for any felony or first degree misdemeanor.

This legislation is expected to help counter high rates of recidivism, relieve an overburdened pardon system, and provide more opportunities for ex-offenders to join the workforce.

The legislation will take effect in 270 days.