On February 16, 2016, Governor Wolf signed legislation amending Title 18 of the
Pennsylvania Crimes Code regarding the dissemination of prior criminal history records. Senate Bill 166, amends Title 18 by adding a new Section 9122.1. This section permits a person to petition the court to enter an “Order for limited access.”
This legislation amends Title 18, Section 9121 to limit disclosure of criminal history records that are the subject of an order for limited access. Release by law enforcement authorities, the courts and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts of records to which access has been limited may only be made to:
- A criminal justice agency.
- A state licensing agency for use only as where relevant to issuance of a professional and occupational license (Crimes Code Section 9124).
- The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare/Human Services and county children and youth agencies for performance of their statutory duties regarding child protective services.
Similar to an expungement, a limited access order may be granted on petition to the court where the conviction occurred for offenses graded as a misdemeanor 2 or 3 or ungraded offense which carries no more than two years in prison. The petitioning individual must be free from arrest or prosecution for ten years following final release from confmement or court supervision. Within ten days of receiving a petition, the court must notify the district attorney who may file objections within thirty days, in which case a hearing on the petition will be held. The court may grant the petition without hearing if no objections are filed and all the requirements have been met. The central repository, upon notice of the order from the court, must notify all criminal justice agencies which have received criminal history record information related to the conviction.
An order for limited access will not be available to a person who has been convicted at any time for:
- An offense punishable by imprisonment of more than two years.
- Four or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of one or more ears.
- A violation of Section 2701 (relating to simple assault), except when the offense is graded as M-3.
- A violation of Section 3129 (relating to sexual intercourse with animal).
- A violation of Section 4912 (relating to impersonating a public servant).
- A violation of Section 4952 (relating to intimidation of witnesses or victims).
- A violation of Section 4953 (relating to retaliation against witness, victim or party).
- A violation of Section 4958 (relating to intimidation, retaliation or obstruction in child abuse cases).
- An offense which requires registration under Title 42, Ch. 97, Subch. H (relating to registration of sexual offenders).
Courts and the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts will be prohibited from posting records pertaining to convictions, arrests and indictments that have been access-limited on the Internet.
Those who are not entitled to disclosure of a criminal history record are prohibited from requiring or requesting an individual to disclose a record which is the subject of an order for limited access.
The law went into effect on November, 2016.