Limited Access Filing in Pennsylvania
On November 14, 2016 Act 5 went into effect which allows multiple misdemeanor charges that are more than 10 years old to be ‘sealed’ so that employers cannot find them, and the job applicant need not disclose them. This is called Limited Access Filing because a Petition is Filed to seek to Limit Access to the records, but most people have been calling it ‘Record Sealing’.
What can be sealed?
- M2s and M3s and Ms (but not Simple Assault M2)
- up to three misdemeanors
What makes you ineligible?
- Simple Assault (M2)
- Any M1 or Felony conviction
- Four or more Misdemeanor Offenses
- Any offense requiring registration as a sex offender
- Intimidation or retaliation against a witness/victim
- Impersonating a public official
- Sex with animals
- You must be free of arrest following release from supervision for 10 years.
Once the Limited Filing is filed, signed and processed, records remain available for Law Enforcement and licensing, but not to the public or employers. Individuals do not need to disclose sealed records.
This statute was critically necessary because of the immense damage that is done to the career of anyone who has a conviction or two on their record. Expungement petitions were not available because they do not apply to misdemeanor convictions. Pardons are still available but have a four to five year waiting period once they are filed.
Even once criminal record(s) have been sealed to help with employment and other issues, you should consult about the possibility and timing of a Pardon application which would remove the record completely.