The Difference Between Limited Access and Expungement

Pennsylvania’s recently instituted Limited Access Law grants citizens the ability to limit who can access their criminal records. While criminal justice agencies will still have access to these records, they will be removed from public view. This law allows these citizens to have a better chance to gain employment, housing, and education. Their criminal history often dissuades decision makers from giving these people jobs, property, or education.


The Limited Access Law does not replace expungement; it is another option. If you are looking for a criminal defense attorney near Warminster, PA, and its surrounding areas that can help you understand the difference and gain the result that is right for you, contact Keith J. Williams Law.


Although these two processes each have a distinct set of rules and results, they aim to achieve similar goals. We’ll break it down for you.


Expungement – Title 18, Section 9122

  • Permanently eliminates a criminal record
  • Available under the following circumstances:
    • If a citizen reaches 70 years of age while remaining arrest and prosecution-free for the ten years following their final punishment
    • If a citizen has been arrest and prosecution-free for five years following a summary conviction
    • A summary conviction constitutes most minor criminal offenses such as disorderly conduct or harassment that usually results in a monetary fine


Limited Access – Act 5

  • Takes away the public’s ability to view conviction records while criminal justice agencies remain able to access them
  • Certain second and third-degree misdemeanors qualify as well as upgraded offenses that carry a maximum penalty of up to two years. A misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony while different degrees categorize a crime’s magnitude – a second degree is more serious than a third degree.
  • The citizen must complete the terms of punishment while remaining free of arrests and prosecution for ten years.
  • Particular convictions are ineligible for limited access, as governed by law.


If you need assistance filing your petition with the Court of Common Pleas, whether it’s for expungement or limited access, contact Keith J. Williams Law, where we also serve as auto accident attorneys for those in Warminster, PA, and other nearby areas.

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