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Could you get a second chance?

When other people make questionable choices or mess up, they are often quick to remind you that everyone makes mistakes. However, when you have a record following you everywhere you go, you might find that people are not so quick to give you another chance to prove yourself.

A criminal background can hold serious consequences. It could prohibit you from going to college, getting a job or living where you choose. But thanks to some Pennsylvania court officials, you might have the opportunity to start over with a clean slate.

What are some of the qualifications for getting your record sealed?

While online records may make research easier, you might wish that a charge (even without a conviction) would not be accessible to the public.

This year, officials plan to scrub tens of millions of old, nonviolent charges from the state's public docket. This is a first-of-its-kind experiment, and it is drawing interest from around the country.

Supporters of the Clean Slate law believe sealing records could help you if you:

  • Paid your fines
  • Served your time
  • Stayed out of trouble for at least 10 years
  • Struggle with employment and housing because of your old record

In many cases, if you want to expunge your record, you have to hire legal representation to petition a judge. However, thanks to action from the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), your record could disappear as they seal more than half of their total caseload.

Advocates believe a clean slate could give you the chance to live a productive life, contribute to the economy and reduce your chances of reoffending. But depending on your situation, if you get a second chance, you might simply be thankful for the opportunity to provide for your family.

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