In California, felonies are serious offenses carrying lengthy prison terms and other criminal penalties. However, the sanctions imposed during sentencing aren’t the only consequences. Other long-term restrictions and limitations are attached to them. If you’re convicted of a felony, several of your rights might be affected, and you could be ineligible for various opportunities and benefits.
The lasting consequences of a felony conviction can make it difficult for you to provide for yourself and become a productive member of society. Thus, if you have been charged, it’s important to fight it. By challenging the accusations against you, you can seek to avoid or minimize the criminal penalties and other limitations. An attorney can help develop your defense and stand up for you inside and outside of the courtroom.
What Is a Felony in California?
A felony is an offense that can be punished by more than 1 year of incarceration. It can also lead to other criminal penalties, such as fines and loss of driver’s license.
Several types of conduct are felonies in California, including:
- Multiple DUIs or a DUI involving injury or death,
- Drug manufacturing,
- Robbery, and
- Assault with a deadly weapon.
Regardless of the offense you have been accused of, if you’re convicted, your rights are in jeopardy. Being found guilty of a felony triggers several disabilities, which we discuss in more detail below.
Right to Vote
If you are a convicted felon, you cannot vote while imprisoned, on parole, or under post-release supervision. However, this right is restored after you have completed your sentence.
Right to Serve on a Jury
Like the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury is suspended if you are imprisoned, on post-release community supervision, on probation, or under mandated supervision. You also cannot be a juror if you are required to register as a sex offender.
Depending on the crime, you may be able to serve on a jury after finishing your prison term.
Right to Serve in the Armed Forces
Under 10 U.S.C. § 504, a person convicted of a felony is barred from enlisting in any branch of the armed forces unless the Secretary of Defense grants an exception.
The federal government restricts gun privileges of anyone convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year.
You would be banned from doing any of the following with a firearm or ammunition:
- Possess, or
Right to Federal Benefits
A conviction for a felony drug trafficking or possession offense can cause ineligibility for federal benefits. The loss of these rights can be temporary or permanent, depending on your criminal history.
For instance, a drug trafficking conviction can result in disqualification for the following number of years:
- Up to 5 for a first offense
- Up to 10 for a second offense
- Permanently for a third or subsequent offense
For drug possession, the ineligibility periods are as follows:
- Up to 1 year for a first offense
- Up to 5 years for a second or subsequent offense
Disqualification from Other Opportunities
Aside from some of your rights being lost or suspended, you may also be denied certain opportunities or other privileges.
Struggles with Employment
With a felony conviction on your record, employers might refuse to hire you. Occupational licensing boards can also suspend, revoke, or deny a professional license if the crime was substantially related to the job. Under federal laws, you can be prohibited from holding public office or employment.
Issues with Getting a Passport
A felony conviction for a drug crime can make you ineligible for a passport if you used one or crossed country borders to further the offense. The disqualification period is effective while imprisoned, on parole, or on supervised release.
If you are a non-U.S. citizen and found guilty of a felony considered a crime involving moral turpitude, your immigration status may be at risk.
You may be deemed inadmissible to the U.S. if:
- You were 18 years of age or older when you allegedly committed the crime,
- The violation occurred within 5 years of applying for a visa,
- The offense was punishable by more than 1 year of incarceration, and
- You were sentenced to a term of more than 6 months.
You may be removed from the U.S. if:
- You were convicted of a CIMT within 5 years of being admitted to the U.S. (or within 10 years if you are a lawful permanent resident), and the potential penalties include imprisonment for more than 1 year;
- You were convicted of two CIMTs arising from different incidents, regardless of how long after you were admitted that they occurred; or
- You were convicted of an aggravated felony any time after being admitted.
Contact Our Firm Today
The consequences of a conviction go well beyond prison time and fines. Many of your rights are at risk, and you may not be able to partake in opportunities others enjoy. For help fighting your charge, turn to an attorney experienced at handling complex cases.
If you need legal help in Santa Rosa, call the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. at (707) 418-5352 or contact us online.