July 31 workshop will aid in expungement, pardon processes

Anyone with a criminal record is invited to attend the workshop 

Coatesville center

The Coatesville Center for Community Health typically offers two Expungement and Pardon workshops a month.

By Nicole Brown, Staff Writer, The Times

The Coatesville Center for Community Life (CCCL) will hold an Expungement and Pardon Workshop on July 31, presented by the Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (LASP).

Deborah Steeves, an attorney with LASP, began holding expungement and pardon workshops at various places throughout the community in April 2010. The CCCL typically hosts two workshops a month, but there are fewer this summer. The workshop on July 31 will be the last one before September when the normal schedule will resume.

Steeves saw a need to inform people how they could clear their criminal record after a Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network initiative aimed at removing barriers from employment. Expungements remove any record of a criminal offense from a person’s record and can only be granted by a judge. Pardons “forgive” an offense and terminate ongoing punishments, probation and other restrictions and can be granted by a board of pardons or the governor, among others.

“This was a statewide program for Legal Aids, and one of the components was to educate and assist people in the pardon or expungement process,” Steeves said. “Pennsylvania is one of the few states that has this employment initiative.”

The workshops are designed to help citizens who have been denied employment due to a criminal record. Anyone with a criminal record is invited to attend this free workshop to learn the process of expungement or pardon, determine if he or she is eligible, and be advised on the next steps.

Steeves explained that not all criminal records can be expunged, but arrest records where there are no convictions, accelerated rehabilitative disposition programs, and most juvenile records are among those that can. She added that summary offence convictions can be expunged five years after the arrest with no additional arrests.

In the expungement process,  forms must be completed and submitted to the Clerk of Courts in the county where the specific arrest was made. Citizens who have a misdemeanor or felony conviction must go through the pardon process to clear their criminal record, Steeves explained.

“That process has its own application form and takes a few years,” Steeves said. “You must not start too early, as the passage of time since the conviction, as well as what the person has done in the community weighs heavily in that process.”

The upcoming workshop at the CCCL will provide more detailed information about these processes and work with each person individually. The workshop requires advanced registration.

Residents can register by sending their name and phone number or email to kathryn@coastesvillecenter.org, the fax number (610) 383-4613, or to CCCH Coordinator, 1001 E. Lincoln Highway, Coatesville, PA 19320, or by calling (610) 383-4612.

Anyone planning to attend the workshop should bring a copy of his or her criminal record.

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