It has been one year since Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law went into effect. The law exists to give people with minor criminal records a second chance.
Having a relatively minor crime on your record, such as DUI or misdemeanor drug possession, can have a significant impact on your life. Even after you have accepted your punishment, you must disclose these crimes on job and rental applications. It can be very difficult to find a job or a place to live as a result. Governor Tom Wolf recently compared this scenario with a “life sentence,” meaning that a fairly small crime can follow you the rest of your life.
No more ‘life sentence’ for a brush with the law
This is where the Clean Slate law comes in. It allows additional types of criminal charges, arrests, and convictions to be sealed than previously available. These include cases where the charges were dropped, where the defendant was found not guilty, and several nonviolent criminal convictions that took place more than ten years ago.
Since the law went into effect, more than 35 million criminal records have been sealed, with more than 47 million offenses removed. With millions of Pennsylvanians taking advantage of the Clean Slate law, it is clear that it has already had a dramatic effect.
Is probation reform coming?
It does not appear that the state General Assembly is finished with post-conviction reform. Senator Camera Bartolotta predicts that lawmakers will take on probation reform to simplify the system and avoid technical violations.
What you should do about criminal charges like drug possession
If you are facing criminal charges, you should do everything you can to protect yourself. The most important thing you can do is retain an experienced defense attorney to advise you and represent you in Court.