Felony Restrictions

When you've been convicted of a felony your life changes - you will notice a lot more restrictions on things like owning firearms, voting, traveling and finding a job. By understanding these restrictions you can minimize the extent to which they will affect you.

Owning Firearms

Federal laws prevent felons from owning firearms - note that this doesn't mean just owning a gun, this also means owning any ammunition as well. This law dates back to the 1930s - prior to that time felons could not own machine guns. In the 30's, however, the federal government made it illegal for anybody who had been convicted with a violent felony from owning any type of gun.

This law was expanded in 1968 to include all felons, including people who had been accused with non-violent felonies. There are a few white-collar crimes which are exempted, but for the most part anybody with a felony charge cannot own a gun. If you manage to have your felony expunged then this law no longer applies to you. Also, some states can allow you to earn back certain privileges, such as ownership of firearms.

Voting

Many people think that felons cannot vote, period - this is a common misconception. In fact, a lot of states allow felons to vote. In fact, two states (Maine and Vermont) allow felons to actually vote from jail or prison. Some states require that the felons are no longer incarcerated, while others mandate that the felon has to be done with probation or parole before their voting rights are restored (also known as re-enfranchisement).

In some states felons lose their right to vote altogether - forever. It is important to understand the laws of the state you are currently living in - this is not a federal law, it is determined at the state level. If you are granted an expungement of course your voting rights are restored - in this case your crime is treated as if it never took place.

Traveling

The majority of travel restrictions that a felon faces are not based on their status as a felon, but rather on the terms of their probation or parole. Upon successful completion of parole the US government will not restrict you from traveling anywhere.

However, this doesn't mean that there are no restrictions - when you fill out a Visa application to visit another country they may do a background check. Whether they grant or deny your entry will depend on their feelings about your crime, situations, etc. - most likely it will be determined by their opinion on your likeliness to re-offend.

Finding a Job

This is one of the root causes of why felons re-offend - it can be difficult for somebody with a felony on their record to find gainful employment. Without money to support themselves a lot of felons end up doing whatever they can to make money, such as selling drugs.

The important thing to remember is that there are companies out there that hire felons, you just need to be willing to put in the leg work to find out who they are. If you are on probation or parole you should talk to your probation/parole officer - they may have a list of places that are willing to hire felons (some companies even get tax credits for doing so).

Some places may require that you be bonded, so you might have to work that expense into the equation. The important thing to remember is that if you are completely honest during the interview process and you establish a good track record then having a black mark on your record probably won't do anything to limit you in your career.

Also, if you can expunge your felony then potential employers won't even see your felony on your record. Some states allow you to plead your felony down to a misdemeanor, which will cause a lot less problems for you in your job search.

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Comments 20 comments

David Ortega  6 years ago

I was convicted of a felony back in 1999.Now years later I not only have trouble finding gainful employment,I can't even find a decent apartment to live in!we truly are bottom of the barrel people in the eyes of the rest of the world.


Jess 6 years ago

Considering the situation, it is disgusting to argue that obtaining these individuals photos is an invasion of privacy. Maybe if Dharun and Molly had considered 'privacy' before posting a live stream of Tyler, they would not be in this situation. To take humor and enjoyment from publicly embarrassing someone is sickening. While I do not believe Dharun or Molly anticipated these consequences for their actions, they do deserve to be punished. They should serve time in prison for felony convictions of invasion of privacy and possibly hate crimes. Such convictions will mean they will not be able to vote, not able to own a firearm, and hopefully not able to obtain a good job. They went to college with dreams, they, and they alone, shattered them. To say that they were only 18 and did not know the possible consequences of their actions is absurd. We were all 18 once, but during that time, we all knew right from wrong. What they did was wrong and they are adults. For them the situation was funny, I am sure they do not believe it is funny anymore. The real question is: Is it no longer funny because Tyler committed suicide, or is it no longer funny because THEIR lives are ruined. I hope they are not so narcissistic to think only of themselves...but my experience with the vast majority of human population leads me to believe that Dharun and Molly are thinking of their futures, not of future Tyler should have had...the future they helped end.


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goodwinjck 6 years ago

I ALWAYS enjoy readings based on criminal law, criminal justice ect... Thanks for the insight, very useful information.


charlotte719 6 years ago

i need to know if a convicted felon can legally own a crossbow does anyone know?


Ryan 5 years ago

I agree with if you do the crime you should do the time. I have been reading more on this lately and some of these restrictions are absurd. It immature to say that any kind of felony should be on your record for a life time. That only raises the bar of negativity towards each other in society in my own opinion.

The court districts gain money in they're private sectors for charging people with crimes with unreasonable fines. From any middle waged dollar earner it is completely applicable to state how over paid they are only to memorize paper work and how miserable they are, only doing it for the money. I would slightly agree that the courts are maintaining justice to a degree. I would also agree that they go as far to be immature and irrational about they're decision making.

You should be punished if you do something wrong. Punishment is acceptable. Their needs to be more laws on degrees of felony's and shorting the time that they stay on your record so you can move on with life. Depending on what kind of crime you committed or how cold blooded it was. To say that you aren't allowed to move on would is immature. It is like telling someone they aren't allowed to mature so they should just go cause more trouble, that is ridiculous.

They're are billions of people that feel the same way yet nothing is done about. Its because they figure out a way to make trillions of dollars on other peoples misfortunes. It results in masking worthy opinions, living a life and have the right to protect your self. That what a felony will do you, the only thing worse than having a felony is trying to avoid one. It way too much work for your average human being, the meaning of freedom is %150 bias now in the year 2011. It is unfair and makes life miserable for everyone, serious adjustments need to be made by someone intelligent.


Z. fisch 5 years ago

what about owning a bow?


Stuart 5 years ago

At David -

Of course you are seen as "bottom of the barrel". You chose to impulse on crime. If you don't abide by the laws of the land like the rest of the world, why should everyone else have to put up with you? Crime is the easiest thing in life to commit. But responsible citizens Choose not to think idiotically. Do you think your special and should be allowed to do something stupid like punch your boss like we all want to without repercussions??

You had your fun. Now you don't get to live like the rest of us.


Someone Who Understands 5 years ago

David, sounds like you've been blessed with people who care about you in your life. Try the baby who was born in proverty, doesn't have anyone around them to show them any differently. Don't judge folks until you've been without housing, food and shelter. Lose your job today, don't find one in 5 years and talk to me then.


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The Scary Truth 5 years ago

Ahh yes! This is great people who claim to be squeaky clean, making judgement on individuals with out any remorse. Are you saying you never made a mistake? Yes you are, because that's all it takes to be a felon. And for that mistake you will be publicaly labeled for the rest of your life. STuart what should we label you as, come now admit a mistake and allow us to label you. Premature Ejaculation, after all we wouldn't want a woman being misleaded, how about pocket alcholic, would that label suit? To me your a sociopath who is happy to destroy anyone in your path, then ridicule them when its done.


dgordon1966 5 years ago

Right on Scary Truth! At STUART I bet you are one of those guys who sits in church and passes judgement on all new comers because in your mind you are perfect. Read the bible Stuart because even Jesus forgave people. Who do you think you are Stuart?


bryan001b 5 years ago

OK I have a felony and with this comes a new life for some reason I can get a job not a good well paying one but hey with Obama in office I got one up right? Lol a place to live is a lot harder its cold sometimes but i get buy. any how I love to hunt and unfortunately I can't I have a bow and that's fun but I was once in the army and I was a damn good soilder saying so I like guns does anyone know if black powder or muzzle loaders count you don't have to register them so why not? To anyone who judges me well hey come see me ill let walk in my shoes for one day see how it feels just BC the law says one thing doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing at the time so come see me ill show you what its like to have to make a mistake ill show u what's it like to be me.


LIA 4 years ago

IM A FELON,AND ITS BEEN 5YRS SINCE I CAUGHT THE CHARGE,AND BEEN OFF PAPER 3YRS.MY FIANCÉ RECENTLY WAS RELEASED FROM 7MO.S OF WORK RELEASE,AFTER DOING 1 YEAR IN PRISON.THE PAROLE BOARD PUT NO STIPULATIONS ON US,BUT THE PAROLE OFFICERS ARE.A NO CONTACT.SO AFTER GETTING A HOME AND ALL THEY MADE ME LEAVE AND TAKE EVERYTHING,INCLUDING GRANDBABIES THINGS,PICS AND ALL.THEY SAID THEY WOULD VIOLATE HIM IF CAUGHT WITH ME,IF WE GET MARRIED.WE BEEN TOGETHER 3YEARS,BEFORE HE GOT IN TROUBLE.IF IT WAS A PROBLEM OR IF WE WERE CO-DEFENDANTS THE PRISON WOULD NOT ALLOW VISITS OR STATED IN PLAN OF HIS RESTRICTIONS.I BEEN TOLD WHAT THEY ARE DOING IS ILLEGAL.MOST OF THIS TOWN IS FELONS.WILL I EVER BE LOOKED AT AS A PERSON NOT A FELON.WHERE IS THE JUSTICE IN IOWA.NOT TO MENTION THE STATE GAVE ME MY RIGHTS BACK.I NEVER SENT FOR THEM.SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME


rachel 4 years ago

I am 26. My felony is a dirty ua. I lost my rights forever.


Leona 4 years ago

Have any of you had issues about buying a home, or land?


lizjimbo 4 years ago

Okay...felony is not a life sentence. Anybody that wants to treat you like that...just tell them to go away and suck on their own self righteousness. I know there are tons of "pure" people that felons have to deal with. Let's start by redefining you. You are not a felon, you are a human being...just like those pure people, some of whom have commented on this board. First of all what is a felony...a felony is a criminal act, look it up...a convicted felon is the poor bloke that got caught. If any of you that despise convicted felons have ever passed a "joint" no matter how small...you are a felon...just not convicted. OJ did murder 2 people...ahha, he wasn't convicted, therefore he is not a felon?

Most anyone convicted of a felony in a state court can have all of their civil rights restored and even their firearm rights restored. Start by googling restoration of rights in whatever state you were convicted in. Some states are harder than others but just take the time to find out the process...then go do it. Federal convictions require a presidential pardon, the state can do nothing for you.

Now for all you pure people...statistically anyone that has never been convicted of a crime (notice I didn't say "committed") is far more dangerous than a person that is a convicted felon and changed his life. If you don't want to believe that you can always do an internet search. I know the truth hurts, but perhaps you can start judging beauty pageants instead of people you know nothing about.


BLeeding.Proffit 4 years ago

once i was innocent, pure and all that, not yet tarnished by the world. i served my country until i couldn't anymore. was released from service with a other than honarable, it took them a week after i had my first doctor apt. outside of my command. guess they didn't like what i was saying. but anyway 2 yrs latter after being dumped by the military with no idea what to do next with my life, i looked for a mentor someone who could show me the way. one day while working at a gas station i found him. long story short i learned a lot and got convicted of a felony because of it. ignorance is not an excuse, but it is a problem when knowledge is willfully kept from you. i understand now that this world is full of selfish people who commit moral crimes as a matter of course. i can only say be careful. sometimes the currents of life will sweep you onto rocks and leave you bleeding, and you will have no idea how you got there at the time. life is hard but its not all bad all the time, little gifts come in the strangest packages.try this one on, if it wasn't for my wolf in sheep clothing mentor i would probably be dead. when i got out the military it seems that i had a mushroom type tumor growing in my sinuses pushing on my brain and eating through my skull by the time i realized it, which was right before i got of probation. was i responsible for my actions during this time frame, i can't even say for sure but the question remains, should a person with a walking concussion be signing any legal documents? the world may never know.


SCARED 4 years ago

I made a huge mistake trying to protect my child. I felt my child who is 20 years old was going to do something stupid. So what do I do ? I do the stupid thing for him. Now I have to plead guilty of a felony. I'm scared of what the consequences are going to be. I mean really SCARED.


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christalluna1124 3 years ago from Dallas Texas

EXCELLENT ARTICLE. THE DIFFERENCE IN A FELON AND THE SELF- RIGHTEOUS IS THE LAST ONE DIDN'T GET CAUGHT. HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN A PEN, A STAMP, ANYTHING THAT DIDN'T BELONG TO YOU???


bsimms 2 years ago

I am in school for cosmetology and have a pending felony. Will being charged with this stop me from being licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology?


Johna583 2 years ago

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