Will Sunbury, PA Welcome Convicted Felons, or Tell Them to Stay Away? The Answer Lies In a Proposed Ordinance

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 29, 2022 | 0 Comments

A town called Sunbury, located in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna Valley, has a population of around 9,661—for now. However, if some city council members get their wish, the number of Sunbury residents could change. That's because there's a proposal on the ballot that would shut the city's doors to anyone with a violent felony conviction on their record.

The Toll That Crime Can Take on a Convicted Felon's Life

People who make mistakes that lead to any kind of conviction soon learn that their law-breaking behavior comes with serious consequences. Even if they never do time behind bars, or if they serve out their sentence and are released, there's still a difficult road ahead. Parole or probation can place severe restrictions on one's freedom, livelihood, and well-being. Fines and restitution might constitute financial hardship, at least for a while.

These are the legal punishments that follow a conviction, but there are societal repercussions as well. For instance, felons have to report their convictions on employment applications. Their right to vote may be restricted. It's also very likely that their status will stand in the way of renting an apartment or house. Either they'll have to disclose it upfront on the rental application, or the landlord or leasing company will discover it when running a background check on the would-be tenant.

In most places, it's possible, if not easy, to work around this hurdle. Folks with felonies can rent from a friend or family member, or find a property owner willing to take a chance.

And then there's Sunbury, PA, which wants to put the kibosh on felons living anywhere within its limits.

The Status of Convicted Felons In Sunbury—Then and Now

There's already a 2012 ordinance, prohibiting people with felony drug convictions from renting any type of housing on the Sunbury books. According to the ordinance, the restriction is in effect for "seven years after an individual's conviction and the expiration of any applicable appeal period."

In reality, though, this rule has rarely been enforced despite city officials' best intentions.

Now, some Sunbury city council members are calling for the ordinance to be enforced. Moreover, they want to extend the restriction to anyone with a felony conviction for violent crimes, not just drug offenders. Among the crimes that would fall under the amendment's purview are homicide, manslaughter, aggravated assault, kidnapping, and hazing, among others.

The council will vote on an amendment to the 20-year-old ordinance on November 14.

Who Will Suffer These Consequences?

Naturally, the amended ordinance will have a significant effect on anyone who's been convicted of a violent crime and wants to return to Sunbury upon release. But plenty of other people might find themselves in a difficult position because of the regulation's ripple effect.

Families of felons will need to move elsewhere; their children could be taken from the only school, neighborhood, and friend group they've ever known. Landlords will lose out on rental income. Employers who have traditionally been happy to give ex-cons a second chance may soon be understaffed. The restriction could affect Sunbury and its residents more than city officials and other proponents of the measure may realize.

Avoid the Issue By Hiring a Dedicated Defense Attorney

The assistance of a criminal defense attorney is essential for those facing felony charges; for former Sunbury residents who wish to remain there, this is just one more reason among many to find the best possible firm.

The Lento Law Firm is just that. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his expert team will fight for your rights, including your right to rent any apartment or other property you want. Contact the Lento Law Firm to ask questions or schedule a consultation: at 888-535-3686 or click here.

Stay tuned for the second part of this article, in which we'll take a deeper dive into the situation in Sunbury.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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