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Many social observers say that criminal penalties for minor crimes have been too high for too long. The sentences for many petty offenses, especially ones connected to violence or drug use, can include years in prison. In addition, convictions or even charges alone can limit people’s professional and financial options.

A new law in Pennsylvania is making it easier for some people convicted of minor crimes to move on with their lives, which also reduces the likelihood of future criminal behavior. People convicted of many misdemeanors may petition to courts to seal these records, shielding them from background checks and professional searches.

These misdemeanors include simple assault, theft and intoxicated driving without related complications. Records of arrests without prosecutions or convictions may also be sealed under the new law. Convictions are not expunged, however, meaning that law enforcement agencies may still find the records.

This law highlights the need for people who committed minor infractions to fight heavy charges, including any felony charges, to get them reduced by prosecutors or judges under plea agreements. If a conviction is seen as necessary by a judge and jury, it does not have to mean the end of a full life.

Anyone charged with a crime in Pennsylvania has rights, including the privilege of silence during questioning and the ability to consult with an attorney. Legal representation can help defendants fight charges in court or in pretrial negotiation. No one should have to seek the verdict of the justice system without the proper representatives on his or her side.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, please contact the Quinn Law Firm at 814-833-2222 for a free consultation regarding your case.