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November 24, 2010

Attorneys Must Now Disclose Criminal Activity 20 Days Following A Conviction

The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has amended a rule (Rule 214), requiring attorneys to disclose if they have been convicted of a crime sooner than the original guidelines determined.

Rule 214 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement establishes the disciplinary procedure when an attorney practicing in PA has been convicted of a crime. Under the original guidelines, an attorney did not have to report a criminal conviction until the attorney was actually sentenced for the crime. Sentencing proceedings may be postponed or delayed for months or longer after an attorney has admitted or been found guilty of a crime. The rule change now requires a report be made to the Secretary of the Board within 20 days of the attorney’s guilty or no contest plea, or on verdict of guilt by judge or jury, rather than after the sentencing. The Disciplinary Board concluded there was no legal reason to delay proceedings regardless of whether or not the attorney had been sentenced.

This amended rule also recognizes that some crimes are so outrageous that they require speedy action to suspend the attorney’s license. A main driving factor for this rule change is not only to preserve the integrity of the Court and the profession, but also to protect the public and the clients the convicted attorney serves. Now, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will not have to wait until criminal court sentencing to temporarily suspend an attorney who has committed criminal conduct.

Failure to report the criminal conviction within the 20 day period will constitute a separate, independent violation of the Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement. The Disciplinary Board’s goals are to protect the public, maintain the integrity of the legal profession, and to safeguard the reputation of the courts.

For more information regarding this rule, please visit the Pennsylvania Rule of Disciplinary Enforcement at

About the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of PA
The Disciplinary Board is an independent agency funded by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and consists of 13 members, of whom 11 are attorneys and two are non-lawyers, from across the state. The Disciplinary Board was created by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to review conduct and assure compliance by all attorneys to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct. For more information about the Disciplinary Board, please visit
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