More misdemeanors should be expunged
Several years ago, Pennsylvania passed a law expanding the allowances on what criminal offenses could be expunged.
While this helped some, it still left many single-time offenders with a record that cannot be erased, except through a pardon.
Felonies are still excluded, as are first- and some second-degree misdemeanors, such as simple assault. Non-violent misdemeanors and summary offenses are eligible after a certain number of years have elapsed, provided the person completed their sentence and stayed out of trouble.
According to recent statistics, as of June, nearly one-third of adults have a criminal record. That is approximately 70 million people.
Compiled data has shown that a first-time offender, after a 10-year period, is no more likely to commit a crime than someone with a record.
Yet, millions of Americans are being denied employment based upon past transgressions that are several decades old.
All misdemeanors should be eligible for expungement at the discretion of the court, taking into consideration the length of time that has elapsed, what the person has done to improve his/her life, and mitigating factors related to the conviction.
A 20-year-old simple assault should not remain on someone’s record for life if they were harassed and lost their cool but have made significant changes since then.
As of now, these people are eligible to apply for a pardon, a lengthy process that is best served through hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Allowing more misdemeanors to be expunged will allow more people the opportunity to work.
That means less dependence on the government and hopefully a more financially uniform state.