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.
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.
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.
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.
- Felony Restrictions
What kind of restrictions are most felons subjected to? We have the information you're looking for.
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