Wednesday, July 20, 2016

criminal history record - expungement - summary conviction - "five years following"

Commonwealth v. Giulian – July 19, 2016 – Pa. Supreme Court

We consider the statutory requirements for expungement of criminal history record information for summary convictions pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. §9122(b)(3) and conclude the lower courts erred in holding expungement unavailable as a matter of law in this matter. We therefore reverse and remand.

Appellant Victoria C. Giulian, then twenty years old, was arrested on April 20, 1997, and ultimately pleaded guilty to the summary offenses of public drunkenness, 18 Pa.C.S. §5505, and harassment, 18 Pa.C.S. §2709(a)(1). At this same time, appellant was also charged with the misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct, 18 Pa.C.S. §5503(a)(2), a charge later withdrawn, and the summary offense of underage drinking, 18 Pa.C.S. §6308(a), to which she pleaded guilty.   Appellant was then arrested on September 27, 1998, and pleaded guilty to the summary offense of criminal mischief, 18 Pa.C.S. §3304.  

Appellant has had no arrests since September 27, 1998. On May 8, 2013, appellant filed a petition seeking expungement of these summary convictions from her criminal history record under Section 9122(b)(3), which provides: (b) Generally.--Criminal history record information may be expunged when: * * * (3)(i) An individual who is the subject of the information petitions the court for the expungement of a summary offense and has been free of arrest or prosecution for five years following the conviction for that offense. (ii) Expungement under this paragraph shall only be permitted for a conviction of a summary offense. 18 Pa.C.S. §9122(b)(3).

The Court agreed with appellant that the Superior Court incorrectly read into the statute a requirement that the five arrest-free years be “immediately” following the conviction sought to be expunged, when the actual text of the statute does not include that qualifier.

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