Clean Slate – New Law Seals Some Records

On June 28, 2018, after strong bi-partisan support in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and Senate, state Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Clean Slate Bill into law.

Gov. Wolf stated that the purpose of this law was to reduce the stigma many people with past convictions face when looking for employment or housing.[1] Nearly one in three Pennsylvania adults has some sort of criminal record, and more than half could benefit from this bill.[2]

In brief, to be eligible, a person cannot have been convicted of a crime within 10 years following a conviction or final release from confinement or from supervision such as parole or probation.

The prior conviction must be a misdemeanor in the second degree, misdemeanor in the third degree, or an ungraded offense which carries a maximum penalty of no more than two years.

The Clean Slate law does not apply to certain prior misdemeanors, such as offenses involving danger to the person, firearms and other dangerous articles, and registration of sexual offenders. Finally, the court of common pleas that is responsible for sealing a prior conviction is the court where the conviction occurred, not necessarily the court where a person lives.

Based on the language of the bill, this process should be automatic. The Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts shall monthly send to Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) any case qualifying under this bill. Then, PSP has 30 days to determine if that person is eligible to have his or her conviction sealed. Once 30 days pass, and with no interjection from PSP, such relevant conviction should be sealed.

Once sealed, a person shall not be required or requested to disclose information about his or her criminal history records that have been expunged or sealed under the Clean Slate law. In addition, under many situations, a person may respond to inquiries as if the offense did not occur. Furthermore, an employer shall be immune from liability in a civil action based on damages suffered to a person or property as a result of criminal conduct of an employee whose record was sealed.

To read the full text of the bill, visit the General Assembly page on House Bill No. 1419.

[1]“Governor Wolf Signs Clean Slate Bill, Calls for More Criminal Justice Reform,” June 28, 2018 (accessed June 29, 2018),

[2] Jan Murphy, “Gov. Tom Wolf Signs Law That Opens the Door to Giving Ex-Criminal Offenders a ‘Clean Slate,’” June 28, 2018 (accessed: June 29, 2018),

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