Once You Have Served Your Time
Although some states have permanent or conditional limitations on the ability of ex-felons to participate fully in our democratic society, Pennsylvania does not prevent ex-felons from voting. Only felons who are still incarcerated are prohibited from voting. Once released, on either parole or probation, the right to vote for Pennsylvania residents is automatically restored.
In Pennsylvania, these residents have full voting rights:
- While serving a sentence for a misdemeanor conviction (absentee ballot only)
- While under house arrest (absentee ballot only)
- While on probation or released on parole
- While being held awaiting trial (absentee ballot only)
- While living in a halfway house not on pre-release status (halfway house cannot be official residence)
Individuals who violated Pennsylvania election laws within the last four years are prohibited from registering or voting.
Pennsylvania also has some protections for residents convicted of misdemeanors and felonies in place when these individuals apply for employment. Employers may only consider a job applicant’s misdemeanor or felony convictions if they relate to the applicant’s suitability for employment. Occupational licensing agencies may take any felony into consideration, but are only allowed to consider job-related misdemeanor convictions. An applicant is entitled to a written explanation if he or she is denied employment or licensure based on a criminal background.
Pennsylvania does provide for expungement of criminal records under specific circumstances. Expungement can open the door to many opportunities within Pennsylvania and in other states.
If you or a family member wants to learn more about expungement as a way of clearing a path to rehabilitation, seek counsel from experienced attorneys who know the law and care about their clients.