Felony Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania

Below is a summary and detailed explanation of the potential consequences of a felony conviction in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


A convicted felon:

  1. Loses the right to become an elected official (Pa. Constitution Art. II § 7)
  2. Loses voting rights during incarceration
  3. Is disqualified from jury service (42 Pa. C.S.A. § 4502(a)(3))
  4. Loses the ability to have a firearm (18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6105)
  5. Loses eligibility for student loans (22 Pa. C.S.A. § 121.6) and (20 U.S.C. § 1091(r))
  6. Is ineligible to become a foster parent or adopt for ten years (23 Pa. C.S.A. § 6344(c))
  7. Could lose a professional licensure for ten years
  8. Could lose other professional licensure or certification for ten years
  9. Could be ineligible for certain employment positions for ten years (24 P.S. § 1-111)
  10. May be required to register under “Megan’s Law” (42 Pa. C.S.A. Chapter 97, Subsections H and I)
  11. May be required to provide DNA following a felony sex offense conviction or other specified crimes (44 Pa. C.S.A. § 2316)



Elected Official

Pa. Constitution. Article II. § 7. Ineligibility by criminal convictions.

No person hereafter convicted of embezzlement of public moneys, bribery, perjury or other infamous crime, shall be eligible to the General Assembly, or capable of holding any office of trust or profit in this Commonwealth.

The Court in Commonwealth v. Shaver, held infamous crimes to encompass felonies. (3 Watts & Serg. 338 (Pa. 1842))

Voting Rights

Pennsylvania prohibits voting under the following circumstances:

  1. Individuals who are currently confined in a penal institution for conviction of a felony (even if they are also incarcerated for one or more misdemeanor offense) and who will not be released from confinement before the next election.
    a. If the individual will be released prior to the next election date and have at least thirty days before the next election, they will be permitted to vote.
  2. Individuals who have been convicted of violating any provision of the Pennsylvania Election Code within the last four years are prohibited from voting.

Jury Duty

42 Pa. C.S.A. § 4502(a)(3). Qualifications of jurors.

(a)(3) has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year and has not been granted a pardon or amnesty therefor.


18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6105 Persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms

(a) Offense defined.

    1. A person who has been convicted of an offense enumerated in subsection (b), within or without this Commonwealth, regardless of the length of sentence or whose conduct meets the criteria in subsection (c) shall not possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture or obtain a license to possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture a firearm in this Commonwealth.

(i) A person who is prohibited from possessing, using, controlling, selling, transferring or manufacturing a firearm under paragraph (1) or subsection (b) or (c) shall have a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 60 days from the date of the imposition of the disability under this subsection, in which to sell or transfer that person’s firearms to another eligible person who is not a member of the prohibited person’s household.

(ii) This paragraph shall not apply to any person whose disability is imposed pursuant to subsection (c)(6) (Protection From Abuse)

(b) Enumerated offenses–The following offenses shall apply to subsection (a):


Any offense equivalent to any of the above-enumerated offenses under the prior laws of this Commonwealth or any offense equivalent to any of the above-enumerated offenses under the statutes of any other state or of the United States.

“Firearm” is defined as any:  pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18 inches or any rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches, or any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches. The barrel length of a firearm shall be determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt or cylinder, whichever is applicable. (18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6102).

“Firearm” is further defined as any weapons which are designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any such weapon. (18 Pa. Code § 6105(i)).

Student Aid/Loans




An individual is no longer eligible for state assistance for higher education if convicted of a criminal offense which constitutes a felony under any state law or federal laws or for a violation of § 13 of The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (35 P. S. § 780-113), except for § 13(a)(31) (35 P. S. § 780-113(a)(31)) thereof. (22 Pa. Code § 121.6).


A higher education student is not eligible for federal assistance if he is convicted under federal or state law of a crime involving possession or sale of a controlled substance. This includes grants, loans, or work assistance. For a conviction of possession, a person is ineligible for one year for a first offense, two years for a second offense, and indefinitely for a third offense. For a sale conviction, a person is ineligible for two years for a first offense and indefinitely after a second offense. A student can regain eligibility before the end of the specified period if (1) he satisfactorily completes a drug rehabilitation program with certain criteria or (2) the conviction is reversed and otherwise removed (20 USC § 1091(r)).

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Foster Parent/Adoptive Parent

23 Pa.C.S. § 6344(c)(3). Employees having contact with children; adoptive and foster parents.

(c) Grounds for denying employment or participation in program, activity or service.

      1. In no case shall an administrator hire or approve an applicant where the department has verified that the applicant is named in the Statewide database as the perpetrator of a founded report committed within the five-year period immediately preceding verification pursuant to this section.
      2. In no case shall an administrator hire an applicant if the applicant’s criminal history record information indicates the applicant has been convicted of one or more of the following offenses under Title 18 (relating to crimes and offenses) or an equivalent crime under Federal law or the law of another state:


The attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit any of the offenses set forth in this paragraph.

3. In no case shall an employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions hire or approve an applicant if the applicant’s criminal history record information indicates the applicant has been convicted of a felony offense under the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, committed within the five-year period immediately preceding verification under this section.

Professional Licensure

Pennsylvania does not have any criminal convictions which would result in a lifetime ban on professional licensure(s). There are 13 boards within Pennsylvania who are prohibited from issuing a license to an applicant who has been convicted of a felony under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (CSA), or of an offense under the laws of another jurisdiction which if committed in Pennsylvania would be a felony under the CSA unless:

      1. at least ten (10) years have elapsed from the date of conviction;
      2. the applicant satisfactorily demonstrates to the board that he/she has made significant progress in personal rehabilitation since the conviction such that licensure of the applicant should not be expected to create a substantial risk of harm to the health and safety of patients/clients or the public or a substantial risk of further criminal violations; and
      3. the applicant otherwise satisfies the qualifications contained in or authorized by the relevant act.
Name of Board License Type(s) Statutory Citation
The State Board of Chiropractic Chiropractor 63 P.S. § 625.501(a)(7)
The State Board of Crane Operators Crane Operator 63 P.S. § 2400.502(c)(1)
The State Board of Dentistry Dentist 63 P.S. § 122(c)
The State Board of Massage Therapy Massage Therapist 63 P.S. §627.5(a)(6)
The State Board of Medicine Physician; Physician Assistant; Nurse-Midwife; Athletic Trainer; Behavior Specialist; Respiratory Therapist; Genetic Counselor; Perfusionist; Prosthetist, Orthotist, Pedorthist, Orthotic Fitter 63 P.S. § 422.22(b)
The State Board of Nursing Registered Nurse; Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist 63 P.S. § 216(c)
The State Board of Nursing Licensed Practical Nurse 63 P.S. § 655
The State Board of Optometry Optometrist 63 P.S. § 655
The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine Osteopathic Physician; Physician Assistant; Athletic Trainer; Respiratory Therapist; Perfusionist; Genetic Counselor; 63 P.S. § 271.6(c)
The State Board of Pharmacy Pharmacist 63 P.S. § 390-3(a)(6)
The State Board of Physical Therapy Physical Therapist 63 P.S. § 1306(a)
The State Board of Psychology Psychologist 63 P.S. § 1206(a)(5)
The State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Licensed Social Worker; Licensed Clinical Social Worker; Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist; Licensed Professional Counselor 63 P.S. § 1907(a), (b), (d), (e) and (f)
The State Board of Veterinary Medicine Veterinarian 63 P.S. § 485.9(b)(4)

Other Professional Licensure/Certifications

This list is not a complete representation of all professions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which may be impacted by a felony conviction. You are encouraged to reach out to The McShane Firm, LLC for more details and assistance as to how your professional license or certification may be impacted.

31 § 37.46(7)(i). Standards for denial of certificate/license for insurance agents and brokers.
The Insurance Department will also consider the applicant’s participation in initial or ongoing training programs offered by the entities represented.

(i) A showing that, within 5 years prior to applying for a certificate or license, an applicant has pleaded guilty, entered a plea of nolo contendere or has been found guilty of a felony in a court of competent jurisdiction, or has pleaded guilty, entered a plea of nolo contendere, or been found guilty of criminal conduct which relates to the applicant’s suitability to engage in the business of insurance, shall be evidence of lack of fitness for a certificate or license.

49 Pa. Code § 31.32(5). Certification for Veterinary Technicians.

An individual may not have a felony conviction under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (35 P. S. § § 780-101—780-144) within the last ten years. If the individual has any such conviction more than ten years ago, must submit proof that at least ten years has elapsed from the date of conviction, satisfactory documentary evidence of significant progress in personal rehabilitation and that the individual otherwise satisfies the other qualifications necessary.

22 P.S. § 16(b) Private Detective

An individual who has been convicted of a felony in Pennsylvania or any state or U.S. territory may not be issued a private detective license.

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Pennsylvania utilizes the “Fair Chance” hiring policy.  This policy allows individuals with nonviolent criminal records an opportunity to explain their specific circumstances during the hiring process. Pennsylvania is allowed to screen its potential employees but are prohibited from using a conviction record against the individual when the conviction is not relevant to the position applied for. This policy does not affect positions in which a criminal conviction renders the individual ineligible. The policy also does not apply to positions in which the individual would be responsible for safeguarding or security of people or property, law enforcement, or those involving contact with vulnerable populations.

A copy of the policy may be found here: https://www.oa.pa.gov/Policies/hr/Documents/TM001.pdf

Potential employers are legally able to ask if the individual applying for a position have been convicted of a crime but the employer is restricted in how they may use the criminal background in the hiring process.  (42 USC. § 2000e, et seq.).

When an individual has a criminal record, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has ruled repeatedly the employers must demonstrate the decision not to hire someone due to their felony convictions/criminal history is justified by a “business necessity.” There are three factors which must be considered:

(i) The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct;
(ii) The time that has passed since the offense or conduct and/or completion of  the sentence; and
(iii) The nature of the job held or sought.

EEOC Compliance Manual, § 604 Appendices

There is also a Pennsylvania statue which addresses the use of records for employment which mirrors the rule in place by the EEOC. The potential employer must notify the individual if the decision not to hire was based in part or in whole on the criminal history information. 18 Pa.C.S. §9125.

“Megan’s Law” (42 Pa. C.S.A. Chapter 97, Subsections H and I)

Pennsylvania has determined it is within the best interest of the Commonwealth to:

      • IDENTIFY those sexual offenders who are truly predators and allow the sentencing court to impose a lifetime registration on those offenders;
      • REGISTER with the Pennsylvania State Police both sexual offenders and Sexually Violent Predators; and
      • NOTIFY the communities when those persons, identified as Sexually Violent Predators, move into their neighborhood.

Free guide to sex crime maximums and Megan’s Law in PA


DNA – (44 Pa. C.S.A. § 2316)

Pennsylvania has determined it is within the best interest of the Commonwealth to establish a DNA database and data bank for individuals who have committed felony sex offenses and other specified offenses.

Pennsylvania has also determined it is within the best interest of the Commonwealth to assist Federal, State and local criminal justice and law enforcement agencies in the identification and detection of individuals in criminal investigations.

With all of this on the line it is vital that you try to avoid a felony conviction in PA. A felony conviction in PA will follow you all over the US and lasts forever.

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