Get a criminal record expunged with help from Allegheny County | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Get a criminal record expunged with help from Allegheny County

Criminal records are often barriers to employment and housing for people with convictions, but clearing them can be a costly and time-consuming process. One in three Americans has a criminal record, such as an arrest that never led to a conviction, that would appear on a background check for housing or employment, according to the Clean Slate Initiative.

Expungement is the only mechanism to permanently and completely remove criminal history record information. County residents can now attend an event by the Public Defender’s office and local state representatives to learn more about how to get their records expunged.

The Expungement Clinic, co-hosted by the Office of Public Defender, state Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Brookline), and Rep. Dan Miller (D-Mt. Lebanon), is an ongoing series of events to help the community. Staff members, including attorneys, social workers, intake staff, and investigators from the office are volunteering their time to assist community members with expungement eligibility and petitions.

In Pennsylvania, all charges that do not result in convictions are eligible for expungements. For charges that do result in convictions, summary offenses (such as disorderly conduct, simple trespassing, public consumption of alcoholic beverages, and first offenses of retail theft where the value of the merchandise was less than $150) are eligible for expungement if the individual has paid all court fees and hasn’t been arrested in at least five years. There are additional criteria specific to people over 70 and the deceased. The county’s Expungement Quiz can help determine eligibility.

This event is open to anyone. Registration is not required, and attendees do not need to do anything in advance of attending the clinic. A brief informational session will be provided at 10 a.m., followed by stations for attendees to talk with staff who can address questions and provide input and assistance in the process. The county says representatives from the departments of Human Resources and Court Records will also be on hand. Human Resources will have information regarding job opportunities within the county, while Court Records will assist with expungement efforts.

The Office of the Public Defender began providing expungement services to former clients in 2019. To date, a county press release says the Public Defender’s Office has filed over 2,000 expungement petitions.

The county also launched Project Reset in August 2019 to assist residents in determining whether anything can be done regarding their criminal records. The webpage contains an online tool to help determine whether a record can be expunged or is eligible to be sealed under the Clean Slate Law. Attorneys from the Public Defender’s Office assist residents eligible for expungement whose charges were filed in Allegheny County, even if they were not originally clients of the office.

Amie Downs, Allegheny County communications director, wrote in an email to Pittsburgh City Paper that the county has plans for future expungement clinics, which “will return to a regular schedule soon.” See the list below for upcoming expungement clinics.

PCSI Pardon Hub: Expungement Clinic
. By appointment only. Mon., Aug. 22. To register, email [email protected] or text 412-866-4454 and mention "pardon hub." Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh East Liberty (2nd floor), 130 S. Whitfield St., East Liberty.

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