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When Does a Felony Fall Off Your Record?

There are approximately seven million persons in the U.S. serving time in prison.  In addition there are millions of others who have been released, having served their time for their offenses.

Even after their release there are consequences to be paid for those transgressions.  Those are called collateral consequences.  A question that is often asked is how long does it take for a felony to drop off your record.

In the case of a felony, the answer, unfortunately, is that a felony remains on your record forever unless you are able to get it expunged, but that process differs from state to state and the type of felony.

This is not necessarily the case for a misdemeanor, however.

This blog post will cover having a felony record.

  • Why Does a Felony Remain on Your Record?
  • Rights That Are Restricted or Lost as a Result of a Felony
  • How to Handle a Permanent Felony Record
  • How to Help a Felon Cope with the Impact of a Felony Record

Why Does a Felony Remain on Your Record?

The answer is in understanding that a felony is the most serious type of crime and includes offenses like murder, armed robbery, fraud, sexual offenses, and arson.

Being convicted of a felony is not taken lightly.  There is along legal process involved, which includes arraignment, pretrial meetings, motion hearings, and a trial.

When someone is convicted of a felony, the crime is considered serious enough to often earn a lengthy prison sentence.  Even then, it will remain on your record forever.

There is difference between being arrested, charged, and convicted of a felony.  Each remains on your record for different lengths of time.

They will remain on your record until they are expunged, removed from public record.  This requires a petition to the court for removal.

Public records are typically kept a various government levels, local, state, and federal.

Not just anyone can view these public records. Being in the public record means that law enforcement, employers, landlords, and banks can view your entire conviction history.

Those who may view those records are people you have given consent to, including potential employers.  A good way to figure out if your felony can be expunged is to use LegalMatch which is a service we are an affiliate of that helps you connect with a lawyer for free.

Rights That Are Restricted or Lost as a Result of a Felony

As a result of a felony staying on your record for life, there are certain privileges that become restricted.

First, a convicted felon loses the right to vote and cannot hold or run for public office, although these rights may be restored.

The right to vote can be restored in most states after he has served all incarceration time, completed parole, and paid all fines.

A felon is disqualified from jury service for seven years after conviction.

You will not allowed to possess a firearm or hold a permit to use a gun after a felony conviction.

A professional license or permit may be lost, but licensing agencies have restricted abilities to revoke licenses.

This is because a person cannot be disqualified from engaging in any occupation, profession, or business for which a state license is required because of a conviction except under certain circumstances.

Employers can ask applicants if they have been convicted of a crime, although federal anti-discrimination laws put some restrictions on use of criminal history.

Housing can be difficult to find as many landlords will not rent to a felon because of the potential risk they may pose to current residents.

Security clearances for teaching, working with children, and security may be restricted.

Those convicted of drug related offenses may lose the ability to obtain federal financial aid for college.

A felon may lose parental rights, such as custody or visitation.  A felon may not be able to enter certain countries on a passport or visa.

You may be turned down for loans or a mortgage from banks or other financial institutions with a felony on your record.

How to Handle a Permanent Felony Record

One of the areas of greatest impact is on finding a job following a felony conviction.  It is extremely frustrating to go through a lengthy job search.  Though we do have a list of employers that are felon friendly.

It will usually work to your advantage to be honest with a potential employer about your felony.  If a potential employer discovers you have lied, you will immediately lose the opportunity for a job with them.

A potential employer can easily, and usually does, conduct a background check and find out about your criminal history.  While this does not mean that you are excluded from finding a job, even in a quality area.

It will certainly require more time and diligence, but it can be done.  It may require additional education, but this is possible.

Having a felony on your record permanently will have long reaching consequences on your reputation.  The label and stigma will be there like the conviction forever.

While a felony will remain on your record, remember that you are a fallible human being.  So don’t allow yourself to be defined by your record.

How to Help a Felon Cope with the Impact of a Felony Record

As the family of a felon, it is important to provide support.  The convicted felon likely already feels shunned by society and needs to know that his family and friends are there during these most difficult times that lie ahead.

Give them encouragement and support.  Help them to feel worthwhile despite their past mistakes.

Do you have a felony on your record?  How has it impacted your job search?