You have two alternatives in Pennsylvania. The first is a pardon which would be issued by the governor. These are very rare and your chances are not good.
The next option is an expungement/expunction. These are procedurally complicated and very factually intense. You will need the assistance of an attorney to help you with this, but basically what you are doing is applying to the court to have your record cleared. Some courts grant these easily while others rarely grant them. It would have to be filed in the court in which you were convicted.
Expunction law changes pretty regularly and I will put the currect statutes below, but you will need to have your attorney to research all of the laws that have applied since the time of the crime to see if any are more favorable. In addition, not all charges are able to be expunged and that is why you will need an attorney to do a complete review of the law and the facts in your case.
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Pennsylvania Expungement Statute
18 Pa.C.S.A. § 9122
- (a) Specific proceedings.--Criminal history record information shall be expunged in a specific criminal proceeding when:
(1) no disposition has been received or, upon request for criminal history record information, no disposition has been recorded in the repository within 18 months after the date of arrest and the court of proper jurisdiction certifies to the director of the repository that no disposition is available and no action is pending. Expungement shall not occur until the certification from the court is received and the director of the repository authorizes such expungement;
(2) a court order requires that such nonconviction data be expunged; or
(3) a person 21 years of age or older who has been convicted of a violation of section 6308 (relating to purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages) petitions the court of common pleas in the county where the conviction occurred seeking expungement and the person has satisfied all terms and conditions of the sentence imposed for the violation, including any suspension of operating privileges imposed pursuant to section 6310.4 (relating to restriction of operating privileges). Upon review of the petition, the court shall order the expungement of all criminal history record information and all administrative records of the Department of Transportation relating to said conviction.
(b) Generally.--Criminal history record information may be expunged when:
(1) An individual who is the subject of the information reaches 70 years of age and has been free of arrest or prosecution for ten years following final release from confinement or supervision; or
(2) An individual who is the subject of the information has been dead for three years.
(b.1) Prohibition.--A court shall not have the authority to order expungement of the defendant's arrest record where the defendant was placed on Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition for a violation of any offense set forth in any of the following where the victim is under 18 years of age:
Section 3121 (relating to rape).
Section 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault).
Section 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).
Section 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).
Section 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).
Section 3126 (relating to indecent assault).
Section 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses).
Section 5903 (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances).
(c) Maintenance of certain information required or authorized.--Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the prosecuting attorney and the central repository shall, and the court may, maintain a list of the names and other criminal history record information of persons whose records are required by law or court rule to be expunged where the individual has successfully completed the conditions of any pretrial or post-trial diversion or probation program. Such information shall be used solely for the purpose of determining subsequent eligibility for such programs and for identifying persons in criminal investigations. Criminal history record information may be expunged as provided in subsection (b)(1) and (2). Such information shall be made available to any court or law enforcement agency upon request.
(d) Notice of expungement.--Notice of expungement shall promptly be submitted to the central repository which shall notify all criminal justice agencies which have received the criminal history record information to be expunged.
(e) Public records.--Public records listed in section 9104(a) (relating to scope) shall not be expunged.
(f) District attorney's notice.--The court shall give ten days prior notice to the district attorney of the county where the original charge was filed of any applications for expungement under the provisions of subsection (a)(2).
18 Pa.C.S.A. § 9102
Current Section§ 9102. Definitions
The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
“Administration of criminal justice.” The activities directly concerned with the prevention, control or reduction of crime, the apprehension, detention, pretrial release, post-trial release, prosecution, adjudication, correctional supervision or rehabilitation of accused persons or criminal offenders; criminal identification activities; or the collection, storage dissemination or usage of criminal history record information.
“Audit.” The process of reviewing compliance with applicable Federal and State laws and regulations related to the privacy and security of criminal history record information.
“Automated systems.” A computer or other internally programmed device capable of automatically accepting and processing data, including computer programs, data communication links, input and output data and data storage devices.
“Central repository.” The central location for the collection, compilation, maintenance and dissemination of criminal history record information by the Pennsylvania State Police.
“Criminal history record information.” Information collected by criminal justice agencies concerning individuals, and arising from the initiation of a criminal proceeding, consisting of identifiable descriptions, dates and notations of arrests, indictments, informations or other formal criminal charges and any dispositions arising therefrom. The term does not include intelligence information, investigative information or treatment information, including medical and psychological information, or information and records specified in section 9104 (relating to scope).
“Criminal justice agency.” Any court, including the minor judiciary, with criminal jurisdiction or any other governmental agency, or subunit thereof, created by statute or by the State or Federal constitutions, specifically authorized to perform as its principal function the administration of criminal justice, and which allocates a substantial portion of its annual budget to such function. Criminal justice agencies include, but are not limited to: XXXXX XXXXX and municipal police departments, local detention facilities, county, regional and State correctional facilities, probation agencies, district or prosecuting attorneys, parole boards, pardon boards, the facilities and administrative offices of the Department of Public Welfare that provide care, guidance and control to adjudicated delinquents, and such agencies or subunits thereof, as are declared by the Attorney General to be criminal justice agencies as determined by a review of applicable statutes and the State and Federal Constitutions or both.
“Disposition.” Information indicating that criminal proceedings have been concluded, including information disclosing that police have elected not to refer a matter for prosecution, that a prosecuting authority has elected not to commence criminal proceedings or that a grand jury has failed to indict and disclosing the nature of the termination of the proceedings; or information disclosing that proceedings have been indefinitely postponed and also disclosing the reason for such postponement. Dispositions of criminal proceedings in the Commonwealth shall include, but not be limited to, acquittal, acquittal by reason of insanity, pretrial probation or diversion, charge dismissed, guilty plea, nolle prosequi, no information filed, nolo contendere plea, convicted, abatement, discharge under rules of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, demurrer sustained, pardoned, sentence commuted, mistrial-defendant discharged, discharge from probation or parole or correctional supervision.
“Dissemination.” The oral or written transmission or disclosure of criminal history record information to individuals or agencies other than the criminal justice agency which maintains the information.
(1) To remove information so that there is no trace or indication that such information existed;
(2) to eliminate all identifiers which may be used to trace the identity of an individual, allowing remaining data to be used for statistical purposes; or
(3) maintenance of certain information required or authorized under the provisions of section 9122(c) (relating to expungement), when an individual has successfully completed the conditions of any pretrial or posttrial diversion or probation program.
“Intelligence information.” Information concerning the habits, practices, characteristics, possessions, associations or financial status of any individual compiled in an effort to anticipate, prevent, monitor, investigate or prosecute criminal activity. Notwithstanding the definition of “treatment information” contained in this section, intelligence information may include information on prescribing, dispensing, selling, obtaining or using a controlled substance as defined in the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act. [FN1]
“Investigative information.” Information assembled as a result of the performance of any inquiry, formal or informal, into a criminal incident or an allegation of criminal wrongdoing and may include modus operandi information.
“Police blotter.” A chronological listing of arrests, usually documented contemporaneous with the incident, which may include, but is not limited to, the name and address of the individual charged and the alleged offenses.
“Repository.” Any location in which criminal history record information is collected, compiled, maintained and disseminated by a criminal justice agency.
“Treatment information.” Information concerning medical, psychiatric, psychological or other rehabilitative treatment provided, suggested or prescribed for any individual charged with or convicted of a crime.