One of the most common questions people ask their San Diego criminal lawyer is “what rights do you lose with a felony conviction in California?” And the good news is that California does not restrict the rights of felons nearly as much as other states. Unfortunately, you will still lose some rights if you have been convicted of a felony in the state.
Your Right to Vote
The most important right people are concerned with after they are convicted with a felony is the right to vote. Many states completely ban felons from voting for the rest of their life, but fortunately, California is not so draconian. In fact, those serving time on probation and or who have been convicted of misdemeanors can continue to vote while serving their sentence. While those who are convicted of felonies cannot vote while behind bars or on parole, their ability to vote is immediately reinstated after they are released. If you move to another state, your right to vote may be affected, so it is important to ask your San Diego defense attorney how your rights will be affected if you move to a new state after being convicted of a felony in California.
Your Right to Serve on a Jury
While some people will risk jail time just to avoid serving on a jury, this is an important right central to our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, if you want to continue contributing to the legal system and you’ve been convicted of a felony, you need to actually have your civil rights restored in order to do so. This can be a complex process and will generally require the expertise of a San Diego criminal defense lawyer.
Your Right to Bear Arms
The Second Amendment is a major political flash point right now, but one aspect of the gun rights debate few people argue about is the right of felons to possess guns. In California, all felons lose their right to bear arms and so will anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, misdemeanor hate crime or a misdemeanor crime of physical violence. It’s not easy to get past this ban either as it actually requires a pardon from the governor and if you were convicted of a felony involving the use of a dangerous weapon, even that will not restore your right to own or possess a gun.
Your Right to Work
A felony conviction will not just make it difficult to find work in most occupations and with many employers, but will actually prevent you from being able to hold certain jobs. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will even review the resume of a felon. If you want to join the armed forces, you will have to obtain a waiver, which will usually be unlikely since you cannot possess a firearm. You will also be banned from working at any job that requires you to work with firearm, for example as a police officer, armed security guard or in a gun shop.
Having a felony on your record may also make it difficult or impossible to get certain professional licenses, particularly if the conviction relates to the profession. For example a person convicted of embezzlement may not be able to become a licensed accountant and someone found guilty of child abuse will not be able to become licensed as a day care operator.
Your Right to Travel
The United States will not bar you from traveling to or even moving to other states if you have been convicted of a felony, though it might be challenging (though it is still legal) to move to a new state as a sex offender. You will also not be barred from traveling out of the country, however it’s worth noting that many countries deny entry to convicted felons.
Also, it is worth noting that the U.S. State Department announced it would start issuing a special sex offender passport in 2018. This passport is only required for those who have been convicted of sex offenses against minors and will still not prevent travel from the US, however it might present further barriers to international travel if other countries choose to deny you entry.
Lost Parental Rights
If you and your partner separate before or after your prison term, having a felony conviction on your record could dramatically hurt your chances of obtaining custody. Many judges see this as a sign that a parent is unfit to care for their child. This is a particularly good reason as to why you should always fight felony charges with the help of a top San Diego felony crime defense lawyer.
If you have been accused of a crime, a San Diego criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges and protect your rights. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Brian Kulser