June 27, 2024

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro (D) recently held a ceremonial signing for the state’s Clean Slate legislation. This signing took place with Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, Majority Appropriations Chairman Jordan Harris, members of the General Assembly, and criminal justice reform advocates. During the ceremony, he claimed the legislation would make the state fairer for its residents.

In 2023, the governor signed Act 36 of 2023, which expanded the Clean Slate initiative. This Act created a process for automatically expunging criminal records for Pennsylvania residents who received an unconditional pardon. However, it did not take effect until June 11, 2024. Initially, Governor Tom Wolf signed the Clean Slate law in 2018. As such, Pennsylvania technically debuted as the first state to seal criminal records automatically.

According to Governor Shapiro, “A minor conviction from years ago shouldn’t prevent someone from getting a job or renting an apartment – especially if that person has received a pardon. And when someone gets a second chance, that should be a real opportunity to start over and succeed.”

He continued his speech, saying, “I believe Pennsylvania is a place for second chances — and my Administration has invested in and advanced real criminal justice system reform. This is a cause that resonates beyond party lines, and that’s why this Clean Slate legislation was cosponsored by both Democrats and Republicans. This life-changing bill includes a commonsense set of steps to remove unnecessary barriers for Pennsylvanians who want to rebuild their lives and meaningfully contribute to our communities — and I’m proud to be here with the lawmakers who worked together in a bipartisan manner to get this to my desk.”

Act 36 is the third expansion of the Clean Slate Law. In addition to expunging the criminal records of individuals who received a pardon, it also automatically seals records for those with nonviolent drug felonies. However, this sealing occurs after ten years without additional convictions. Act 36 also expanded the criminal offenses that qualified for a clean slate and reduced the time individuals must wait to become eligible. Those with a summary offense or misdemeanor must remain free of convictions during the shortened waiting period.

While legislatures work on fully implementing the law, the Pennsylvania State Police will begin processing summary convictions. Many expect Act 36 to affect roughly six million individuals with summary convictions, so the state police expect a significant workload ahead of them.

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.