Pittsburgh Expungement Lawyers
People with criminal records face major barriers to employment, housing and education.
Perhaps surprisingly, more than 90 percent of people eligible for criminal-record expungements don’t even apply, according to researchers.
Most people don’t know they can get an expungement, or don’t know how to do it, and don’t have lawyers to advise them.
The process can be long and complicated, requiring visits to courthouses. The fees and costs are a barrier for people in poverty.
At Spivak Law Firm, we help people expunge their criminal records so they can move on with their lives.
For a free consultation, call us today at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
A criminal record can harm your employment opportunities. Pennsylvania recently increased the options for restricting employers from viewing your criminal record through what are called limited access orders.
For the first time, people convicted of second- and third-degree misdemeanor offenses may be able to restrict employers from viewing their criminal records.
But what about people convicted of felonies and first-degree misdemeanors? Such people may not be able to completely erase or seal their records, but they can obtain partial expungements.
For instance, people with long rap sheets can clean up their backgrounds by partially expunging their records to remove all charges that were withdrawn or dismissed. Though a criminal record remains, it will look far better to employers, especially if the convictions occurred many years ago.
Spivak Law Firm is devoted to helping people with criminal records move on with their lives. Call us today at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
People are often shut out of the work force because of their criminal records. It’s tough enough to obtain employment in today’s job market, don’t let a bad decision you made years ago keep you from living your life.
If your criminal record has adversely affected your ability to obtain employment, you may have the option of removing citations, arrests, and convictions from your record by petitioning the court for an expungement. You may be eligible for an expungement if:
- The criminal charges against you were withdrawn or dismissed;
- You have been free of arrest or conviction for five years following a summary offense conviction; or
- You completed an accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program on a first-time criminal charge.
At Spivak Law Firm, we expunge criminal records for a low, one-time fee. For more information, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
The P-G recently published the article, Clean The Slate In Pennsylvania: The Commonwealth Should Make It Easier To Expunge Criminal Records And Give People A Fresh Start In Life, written by attorneys Todd Spivak and Rebecca Canterbury.
The Post-Gazette routinely features Spivak Law Firm, publishing several articles of important legal commentary on Protection From Abuse (PFA), child custody, and criminal-record expungement laws in Pennsylvania.
In Clean The Slate, Attorney Spivak and Attorney Canterbury critique a new Pennsylvania law that for the first time seals criminal information from public view for people convicted of second- and third-degree misdemeanors.
In Impoverished Parents Deserve Their Day In Court, Attorney Canterbury reveals how exorbitant filing fees in Allegheny County prevent low-income parents from asserting their child-custody rights.
In Crack Down on Domestic Violence in Allegheny County, Attorney Spivak recommends that only specialized judges with extensive domestic-violence training oversee PFA hearings.
In Improve Pennsylvania’s Domestic-Abuse Law, Attorney Spivak exposes the issue of bogus PFA orders and recommends ways to curb abuses in the system.
In Child Custody for Rapists, Attorney Spivak explains how sexual predators use family court to harass and intimidate their victims.
Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation in all family law and criminal defense matters. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
Attorneys Todd Spivak and Rebecca Canterbury recently published an important article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spotlighting a new Pennsylvania law that for the first time seals criminal records from public view for people convicted of second- and third-degree misdemeanors.
At Spivak Law Firm, we advocate for expanding options for expungement and record-sealing to help people shed the stigma of a criminal record so they can access better jobs, housing, and other basic rights and privileges. Our article, entitled Clean The Slate In Pennsylvania: The Commonwealth Should Make It Easier To Expunge Criminal Records And Give People A Fresh Start In Life, is reprinted here in its entirety:
Pennsylvania offers virtually no relief for people to shed the stigma of a criminal record that denies them access to employment, housing and government benefits.
Fortunately, the commonwealth is taking a step in the right direction as a new law takes effect Monday that for the first time seals criminal records from public view for people convicted of some second- and third-degree misdemeanors, so long as they completed their punishments and stayed free from arrest for 10 years.
It’s an important law, but it does not go nearly far enough.
Historically, Pennsylvania has offered two legal pathways for concealing a criminal record.
First, you could petition the court for an expungement, which completely erases criminal information from public view. But expungements are offered in very limited cases, such as charges resulting in dismissal and convictions for low-level summary offenses such as public intoxication and speeding tickets.
Second, you could seek a pardon from the governor, which restores all rights lost due to a criminal conviction, including voting rights. But a governor’s pardon is hardly a viable option for most offenders, as the process can take years, cost many thousands of dollars in attorney fees and has a dismal success rate of less than 20 percent.
On average, fewer than 100 people receive a governor’s pardon in Pennsylvania each year, whereas more than 40,000 expungements are granted annually.
The new record-sealing law affords far less protection than a pardon or an expungement because the criminal information will remain accessible to law enforcement and state-licensed agencies, such as occupation boards and child-care facilities.
Moreover, the new law excludes all people convicted of felonies, as well as sexual and violent crimes.
Thus, Pennsylvania still offers no relief for people who, say, were convicted of assault for starting a bar fight at age 21 but served their sentence and went another 30 or 40 years without another arrest or incident.
The importance of second-chance reforms cannot be overstated.
Three million Pennsylvanians have a criminal record, comprising 30 percent of the adult population. They are parents of about half the state’s children.
A criminal record can have life-long collateral consequences, restricting access to the most basic rights and privileges, such as employment, housing, public benefits, bank loans, voting privileges, government contracts and child-custody rights.
Employment is considered the single most important influence on decreasing recidivism. Studies show that job applicants who reported having a criminal record were 50 percent less likely to receive a callback or job offer.
During the last five years, nearly half the states passed more than three dozen laws aimed at sealing or expunging criminal records so low-level offenders don’t continue to suffer for minor offenses, according to the Vera Institute for Justice.
Pennsylvania should follow the lead of other states that offer broader pathways for relief.
For instance, earlier this year Kentucky for the first time authorized expungement and restoration of voting rights for nonviolent felony convictions. Missouri and New Jersey significantly reduced waiting periods to expunge felony and misdemeanor convictions. New Jersey went so far as to ensure automatic and immediate expungement of non-conviction records.
By contrast, Pennsylvania requires people to petition the court, pay filing fees and wait about a year to erase a criminal record even though charges were dismissed or withdrawn. People who fail to seek expungement remain burdened by a criminal record that can significantly inhibit employment prospects.
Pennsylvania should join roughly half the states, as well as many major employers, such as Walmart, Starbucks and Facebook, that have adopted ban-the-box policies, which removes the conviction-history question on job applications and delays background-check inquires until later in the hiring process. Research indicates that employers are more willing to hire applicants after first examining their qualifications for the job.
The Pennsylvania Legislature is considering two bills that would further expand options for expungement and record-sealing. These so-called clean-slate bills would automatically and immediately seal non-conviction records such as withdrawals, dismissals and not-guilty verdicts. They would automatically seal records after 10 years for most misdemeanor convictions. They would eliminate the exception that allows occupational- and state-licensing boards to view sealed records.
In addition, the clean-slate bills would save money for taxpayers by reducing criminal-justice costs and increasing tax revenues as more people get back to work. More important, they would improve public safety by giving offenders a fresh start that enhances their prospects of finding employment and living crime-free lives.