SUMMARY EXPUNGEMENT – this petition erases a summary conviction from someone’s record.
House Bill 1543 became effective February 1, 2009 and creates the right to expunge a single summary
offense when five years have elapsed since the date of conviction. The most issued summary citations
that affect young people are retail theft, underage drinking, harassment, disorderly conduct and public
drunkenness – these would all be eligible for expungement after five years.
JUVENILE RECORD EXPUNGEMENT – this petition is filed to remove juvenile court prosecutions
for misdemeanors or felonies after the offender turns 18 (with the consent of the District Attorney),
or after five years, with no intervening criminal conduct.
ARD EXPUNGEMENT – some crimes, like Driving Under the Influence (1st offense) are put into a program
called ARD. ARD allows someone to do probation without conviction. Since there is not a conviction, after
successful completion of the program, the criminal history showing that the crime was charged can be erased.
SECTION 17 EXPUNGEMENT – Section 17 is a special diversionary program, much like ARD.
It allows one to complete probation without a conviction. It is typically presented for possession
of marijuana or paraphernalia. If you received a Section 17 disposition, your record can be cleared.
CHARGES THAT WERE WITHDRAWN, DISMISSED OR NOL-PROSSED – Charges that were brought
that did not result in a conviction may still be on your criminal history. These may be eligible for expungement.
The difficulty with these procedures is the time frame. If a freshman in college gets a summary conviction in their first year at school, there is no way to get the record ‘expunged’ before they graduate. In this case, a pardon might help.
Pardons refer to a procedure by which the Governor’s Board of Pardons reviews an application to have the applicant’s criminal conduct ‘pardoned’, or forgiven. This procedure is broader than expungement – summary convictions can certainly be petitioned, but also felonies and misdemeanors. The Board of five must make a unanimous recommendation to be forwarded to the Governor. If the Board and the Governor both approve, the Pardon is granted, and then an expungement petition can be filed in the County Court to remove the offending history.
The Board seems to weigh and consider several factors:
• The nature of the crimes and what led to their commission;
• Whether the Petitioner accepts responsibility for the conduct;
• The amount of time that has passed since the crimes;
• The hardship that is being created by the criminal history – education, licensing, occupational, clearances, etc…
• How the Petitioner has contributed to society since the crime.
While there are no guarantees as to whether an application will be granted, the Board has been receptive to the expungement of summary offenses regardless of time, and the more serious offenses once a number of years have passed.
For college students, or other individuals who cannot wait five years to petition for removal of a summary offense, the Pardon is the only
available remedy! But, the Pardon process, even if ‘fast-tracked’, can take more than a year, and should be started in the freshman or