December 26, 2018, Samantha Melamed - The Philadelphia Inquirer
For more than a decade, Tyeisha, 32, of Norristown, has been dogged by her criminal record — the last remaining scars from when a coworker attacked her on the job and both women were charged with assault.
Now, she’ll finally have the chance to close that chapter, thanks to Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law, which passed out of the General Assembly in June.
The first phase of the law — allowing for sealing of offenses including certain misdemeanors, such as simple assault, for those who’ve stayed out of trouble for at least a decade — went into effect Wednesday. The next phase, which will automatically seal some lower-level criminal records, is to begin June 28.
Sharon Dietrich, litigation director at Community Legal Services, said she’s been flooded with phone calls from people desperate for this relief.
“For people with simple assaults, it’s really important, because when you’ve got an assault on your record that often brands somebody as a violent person and unfortunately what it may represent is they had one very bad night, they got into a fight at a bar,” she said. “To get that off their record is probably one of the most powerful things that our sealing law will allow.”
Offenses newly eligible for sealing will include intoxicated driving and some theft and drug crimes. CLS is organizing volunteer lawyers to help screen what it expects will be thousands of eligible individuals and has posted an online form to process requests for assistance.
When the rollout of Clean Slate is complete, all arrests not resulting in convictions will be sealed automatically a month after the case is disposed.
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