A felony conviction can have long-lasting effects on your life. If you’re convicted of a felony, you can lose fundamental rights of American citizenship. While some of these rights can be restored over time and through court proceedings, a felony conviction stays with you for life or until it is overturned or otherwise expunged from your record. What rights do you lose as a felon? Read on to find out more.
Felons Lose the Right to Vote
Voting and participating as a citizen is one of the most fundamental American rights. But if you’re convicted of a felony, those rights go out the window. Felons lose the right to vote, participate in jury duty, run for public office, or hold public office. These rights can sometimes be restored through a clemency or pardon from the Governor of your state or the President of the United States. These processes take a long time and effective legal counsel to secure, and until then felons cannot fully participate as citizens. Convicted felons who attempt to vote or who cast a vote in an election can be further prosecuted for election fraud and wind up with additional charges on their records.
Felons Lose the Right to Bear Arms
Convicted felons are also barred from possessing firearms. This can also mean that felons are not allowed to possess even the parts to a firearm, like firearm frames or receiver, mufflers or silencers, or certain other firearm paraphernalia. This can seriously impact your rights, as felons cannot even possess firearms for the purposes of hunting or self-defense. Felons in possession of a qualified weapon can be prosecuted further and may face even more serious charges than those on which they were originally convicted.
Felons May Face Employment Discrimination
While a number of categories are protected under the Constitution and state and federal laws, your criminal history is not one of them. Employers can ask applicants about their criminal history and use that information to make a hiring decision. While you may find protection in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting employers from screening individuals based on criminal history information if they significantly disadvantage Title VII-protected individuals such as African Americans and Hispanics and the policies don’t help the employer decide if a person is likely to be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee. However, in many states, arguing that the employer has illegally discriminated according to criminal history can be difficult. A felony conviction could make it harder for you to find and keep a good job.
Felons May Be Denied Loans
Some felonies, like felonies involving controlled substances, disqualify the offender from receiving federal student loans, grants, and student work aid. This can make it more difficult for felons convicted of selling controlled substances to further their education and improve their employment situation. Felons complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid Drug Conviction Worksheet to determine if they are eligible for federal financial aid or student loans. Generally speaking, felony possession convictions make a person ineligible for a year after their first offense, two years for a second offense, and indefinitely for a third offense. For felonies involving the sale of controlled substances, the offender is ineligible for two years for a first offense and indefinitely for a second. Sometimes, felons can regain eligibility if they satisfactorily complete a drug rehab program with certain criteria or if the conviction is reversed, set aside, or rendered inconsequential.
Regaining Rights Lost to a Felony Conviction
Some rights can be restored to felons. The right to vote, for example, can be regained in the state of Arkansas by serving your sentence, supervision (like parole or probation), and paying fines and other specified court debts. Also in the state of Arkansas, felons’ rights to serve on a jury and own firearms can be restored by executive clemency (from the Governor’s office), pardon (from the Governor or President), or expungement of the felony charge from their criminal record. The right to run for and hold public office, however, might never be restored for people convicted of certain felonies.
The Bobby Digby Law Firm Can Help
Whether you’re facing felony charges or you’re ready to regain the rights you lost through a felony conviction, the Bobby Digby Law Firm can help! We stand up for your rights and fight for your liberty. Our expertise in the field of law and experience in the courtroom mean you can count on us for excellent legal counsel and defense. Call us today to schedule a consultation!