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CLS Blog: 5 Things to Know about Clean Slate


CLS Blog: 5 Things to Know about Clean Slate

Clean Slate is a new Pennsylvania law that will automatically seal 30 million criminal cases, as well as expanding sealing to include more types of misdemeanors.  Employers, landlords, and schools won’t be able to see sealed cases on your record, although those cases still will be seen by law enforcement agencies and a few others. Clean Slate will help many people across the commonwealth to get a fresh start. Read on for more information.

1. Clean Slate is coming soon!

Automated sealing will start in Pennsylvania on June 28, 2019. Pennsylvania will automatically seal arrests that did not result in convictions, summary convictions from more than 10 years ago, and some second and third-degree misdemeanor convictions, as long as you have not had any other misdemeanor or felony convictions for a period of 10 years after the time of conviction.

The State has until June 2020 to seal all 30 million cases.  They will start with the most recent cases first and will seal the oldest cases last.

2. You can help yourself benefit from Clean Slate

See what is on your record.  To find out what is on your public court record, and to check whether your cases have been sealed once automated Clean Slate begins, you can look yourself up for free on the courts’ website.   If your cases are not immediately sealed, you can check back again until sealing of old cases ends in June 2020.

Get more information.  If you need help with the website, watch Community Legal Services’ video for more information.  You can also learn more at or by checking with your local legal aid program.

File a sealing petition.  Even if you aren’t eligible to have your conviction automatically sealed, you may be able to petition the court to seal your old misdemeanor convictions. Each court has different processes to file petitions so you should contact your local court or legal aid program for more information. There are fees to file your petition(s), but you may be able to have them waived if you are low-income or represented by a legal aid program.

3. You must pay your fines and fees to be eligible for Clean Slate

If you have cases that are eligible to be sealed under Clean Slate, the most important thing you can do is make sure you have paid any court fines and costs you owe. Fines and costs are usually only owed on cases where you were convicted (pled guilty or were found guilty) or were in a diversion program (like ARD).

To find out what you owe, either review your docket sheets on the courts’ website using the information above, or contact the court in the county where you had your case. 

You can pay any fines and costs you owe online if you have a credit card, or you can pay at your county courthouse.  If your cases are from Philadelphia, you can also go to the Basement of the Criminal Justice Center (1301 Filbert St.) to find out what you owe, get on a payment plan, or make payments. 

If you owe supervision fees (called OSP on your docket), you may be able to ask the court to waive those fees by filing a petition with the court. Check out this flyer for more information and a sample supervision fee petition.

4. You do not need to disclose a record that has been sealed

If information regarding criminal history is requested by an employer, school, or landlord, a person whose cases has been sealed by Clean Slate may respond as if the offense did not occur. If your whole record has been sealed, you can say you do not have any record.

This is not true if the information is requested by a criminal justice agency or disclosure is required by federal law. Also, if the job requires an FBI background check, you should report your sealed record because they will still show up on the FBI records.  Most jobs do not use FBI records. You will know that you are getting an FBI check because you will have to provide fingerprints.

Most employers still cannot make decisions based on sealed records, so normally you should not be denied a job based on a sealed record that shows up on an FBI background check. If your sealed record continues to cause problems for you, or if you know your job requires FBI background checks, you may want to seek a full expungement, if possible. Misdemeanor convictions cannot be expunged.  Learn more here about getting an expungement.

5. Even if Clean Slate can’t help you, you might be able to get a pardon

Generally, the only way to remove a felony conviction from your record in Pennsylvania is by receiving a pardon from the Governor.The pardon process is long and pardons are difficult to get.The longer that you have gone without an arrest or conviction, the better chance you have. Learn more here about the pardon process.

For much more information about Clean Slate, bookmark  Come back often for updates!