A felony conviction can carry lifelong consequences in addition to hefty prison sentences and fines. The origin of the word “felony” dates back to feudal England and committing a felony would result in the confiscation of land and other personal property. True to its origins, the consequences of a felony conviction include the deprivation of a wide array of rights, ranging from a loss of voting rights, to the inability to own a firearm and receive federal benefits. While some rights may eventually be restored, this process can be long, costly, and cumbersome.
What is a Felony?
States divide offenses into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Any crime that is punishable by imprisonment for over twelve months or by death is usually considered a felony. While most are aware that jail time is a possible consequence, many are unaware of the additional consequences that come with a felony conviction.
Felony Conviction Consequences
If you are convicted of a felony, you should expect to have your civil rights drastically curtailed. The most frequent consequence of a felony conviction is the loss of the right to vote. Known as “disenfranchisement,” The Sentencing Project estimates that roughly 350,000 people are ineligible to vote because of a felony conviction.
A felony conviction for a violent crime can deprive you of another Constitutional right: your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. States classify a wide variety of crimes as violent felonies, ranging from the obvious, murder, to the obscure, leaving one’s wife in a place for the purpose of prostitution.
Many of the collateral consequences depend on the type of felony committed. If, for example, you are convicted of a felony related to a sex crime, you will be placed on Sex Offense Registry. It is nearly impossible to be removed from the Registry – even if the victim later recants.
Drug-related felonies carry some of the strictest collateral consequences. These felonies can result in eviction from public housing, ineligibility for federal education loans and grants, and a ban from food stamp programs.
A felony conviction can also affect your job. Not only can you be prohibited from running or holding public office, you can also lose your current position with the federal government. These occupation restrictions can apply to private employees as well. As a condition of probation, a judge can prohibit you from working in certain fields if there is a “reasonably direct relationship” between the crime committed and the occupation.
It would be difficult to discuss every potential consequence of a felony conviction, but other repercussions include:
• Loss of the right to serve on a grand jury
• Ineligibility to enlist in the armed services
• Loss of federal licenses
• Inability to participate in federal spending and defense contracts
A felony conviction can drastically affect nearly every aspect of your life. With so much at stake, it is imperative that you do everything you can to fight the charges. If you or a loved one is charged with a felony, it is vital that you contact an experienced criminal attorney. Not only will they help you understand the consequences of the crime with which you are charged, they will strive to give you the legal defense that you deserve.
J.D. Garrett is the principal attorney and founder of Garrett Law Group, PLC in Virginia Beach, VA. The firm provides legal services for clients in the areas of criminal and traffic defense, divorce and child custody issues, and personal injury recovery. Mr. Garrett has been in private practice since 2005 and he handles all major felony criminal cases for the law firm, as well as some personal injury cases. Over the years, he has experience in representing individuals charged with minor misdemeanor and traffic offenses, up to and including major felony charges such as bank robbery, rape, and homicide.