PART C(3). EXPUNGING OR DESTROYING RECORDS, FINGERPRINTS, AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Rule 170. Motion to Expunge or Destroy Records.
A. Motion. Upon motion, or sua sponte, expungement proceedings may be commenced:
1) if a written allegation is not approved for prosecution;
2) if the petition is dismissed by the court;
3) in consent decree and informal adjustment cases:
a) when six months have elapsed since the final discharge of the juvenile from supervision; and
b) if no proceeding seeking adjudication or conviction is pending;
4) when a juvenile has been discharged from court supervision pursuant to Rule 631:
a) five years have elapsed;
b) the juvenile has not been convicted or adjudicated delinquent for a felony or misdemeanor;
c) no court proceeding is pending seeking such conviction or adjudication; and
d) the delinquent act is not an act precluded from expungement pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 9123(a.1); or
5) when the attorney for the Commonwealth consents to the expungement.
B. Contents of Motion. A motion, which shall include a proposed court order, shall contain the following information:
1) the name of the juvenile;
2) the date of birth of the juvenile, if known;
3) the juveniles case docket number, if any;
4) the allegations or offenses to which the order pertains;
5) the law enforcement agency that initiated the allegations;
6) the reference number of the police report or written allegation to be expunged or destroyed, including the juvenile offense tracking number (JOTN), if available;
7) the date of arrest;
8) the disposition of the written allegation or petition;
9) the reasons and statutory authority for expunging or destroying the documents, fingerprints, or photographs; and
10) the agencies upon which certified copies of the court order shall be served.
C. Service of Motion. In addition to the service required by Rule 345, the movant shall serve the motion on the chief juvenile probation officer.
1) The attorney for the Commonwealth, and any other person upon whom the motion was served, may file an answer to the motion.
2) If objections to the motion are not made within thirty days of the filing of the motion, they shall be deemed waived.
E. Courts Response to the Motion. The court shall conduct a hearing or grant or deny the motion after giving consideration to the following factors:
1) the type of offense;
2) the individuals age, history of employment, history of academic or vocational training, delinquent or criminal activity, and drug or alcohol issues;
3) adverse consequences that the individual may suffer if the records are not expunged; and
4) whether retention of the record is required for purposes of public safety.
F. Inter-County Transfer Cases.
1) A motion to expunge or destroy records shall be filed in the county in which the adjudication of delinquency was entered.
2) A motion regarding the records of a juvenile whose disposition did not involve an adjudication of delinquency shall be filed in the county in which the disposition occurred.
3) The court entering an order to expunge or destroy records shall direct the order to any other court possessing records pertaining to the case.
Paragraph (A) provides that a motion to expunge or destroy records, files, fingerprints, or photographs, or the court, sua sponte, may commence expungement proceedings.
Under paragraphs (A)(1) & (2), the written allegation or petition may be dismissed for several reasons, including, but not limited to, when: 1) a juvenile completes an informal adjustment or diversionary program; 2) the attorney for the Commonwealth declines to prosecute; 3) probable cause is not found at the detention hearing pursuant to Rule 242(C)(1); 4) there is no finding on the offenses pursuant to Rule 408(B); or 5) there is no finding of a need for treatment, supervision, and rehabilitation pursuant to Rule 409(A)(1). Expungement proceedings may be commenced upon these dismissals of the written allegation or the petition.
For expungement of summary offenses heard by a magisterial district court or criminal court, see Pa.R.Crim.P. 490 and 490.1 (truancy). For eligibility for expungement, see 18 Pa.C.S. § 9123(a); 24 P.S. § 13-1333.3(h) (truancy).
Under paragraph (B)(6), any number assigned to police papers helpful in tracking the police report or written allegation that would assist the law enforcement agency in expunging or destroying the document is to be listed. A reference number could be a juvenile offense tracking number, district control number, crime control number, incident number, Philadelphia identification number, or another number assigned by the law enforcement agency to track the document.
Pursuant to paragraph (B)(9), the reasons for expunging the records or destroying fingerprints and photographs are to be included in the motion, specifically citing which provision of paragraph (A) applies.
Expunge or expungement is defined by Rule 120, which means to erase legally, or the process of legal erasure of an item making it permanently not available to the public but where some information may be retained only for limited purposes by agencies or departments. See Rule 173. See also Comment to Rule 120.
Rule 173 provides for the retention of certain information that is crucial for: 1) determining compliance with the order to expunge; 2) determining eligibility in a court program, determining the grading or penalty of an offense, or for other purposes as provided by law; 3) maintaining statistical and research information; 4) maintaining intelligence and investigative information; and 5) financial audits.
Pursuant to paragraph (D), the attorney for the Commonwealth is given an opportunity to respond to the motion. The attorney for the Commonwealth should specify its position on whether items should be expunged or destroyed. Expunged items remain available to law enforcement agencies and the attorney for the Commonwealth in limited circumstances, whereas destroyed items are permanently erased. The attorney for the Commonwealth should consent to expunging records unless the attorney for the Commonwealth demonstrates good cause for the retention of records. See In re A.B., 987 A.2d 769 (Pa. Super. 2009).
The reasons for maintaining information pursuant to Rule 173 do not qualify as good cause against expunging records under this rule. Maintenance of specific information is different from the maintenance of the official court record or other official records of the juvenile probation office or a law enforcement agency. Pursuant to Rule 173, a separate document, file, or database is to be created. See Rule 173 and its Comment.
If the attorney for the Commonwealth objects to expunging or destroying the records, the court should conduct a hearing on the motion.
Pursuant to paragraph (E)(3), the court is to consider adverse consequences that an individual may suffer if the records are not expunged. Adverse consequences are discussed in The Pennsylvania Collateral Consequences Checklist instituted by Pennsylvania Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network in conjunction with the initiative the Models for Change System Reform in Juvenile Justice. This checklist may be accessed on the Supreme Courts website at http://www.pacourts.us/courts/supreme-court/committees/rules-committees/juvenile-court-procedural-rules-committee/juvenile-court-committee-rules-and-forms.
The attorney for the Commonwealth in the county in which a motion is filed in an inter-county transfer case pursuant to paragraph (F) should provide notice of the motion to, and communicate with, the attorney for the Commonwealth and the juvenile probation office in the county to which, or from which, the case was transferred.
Notwithstanding this rule, see 18 Pa.C.S. § 9123(a.1) for cases that are ineligible for expungement proceedings. See also 42 Pa.C.S. § 6341 for destruction of fingerprints and photographs.
Rule 170 adopted April 1, 2005, effective October 1, 2005. Amended July 28, 2014, effective September 29, 2014. Amended February 12, 2015, effective immediately. Amended March 1, 2019, effective July 1, 2019.
Committee Explanatory Reports:
Final Report explaining the provisions of Rule 170 published with the Courts Order at 35 Pa.B. 2214 (April 16, 2005).
Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 170 published with the Courts Order at 44 Pa.B. 5447 (August 16, 2014).
Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 170 published with the Courts Order at 49 Pa.B. 1142 (March 16, 2019).
The provisions of this Rule 170 amended July 28, 2014, effective September 29, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 5447; amended February 12, 2015, effective immediately, 45 Pa.B. 953; amended March 1, 2019, effective July 1, 2019, 49 Pa.B. 1142. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (387356) to (387359).
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