A person who is convicted of a felony crime, either a federal crime or state crime, is considered to be a felon. Misdemeanor convictions are not felonies and thus persons convicted of those crimes are not considered felons.

Felony convictions usually result in jail sentences, additional state supervision after release from jail in the form of probation or parole and the loss of certain civil rights and privileges.

What Rights Do Felons Lose After Conviction?

Depending on the state, you can expect to lose the following civil rights:

  1. Right to vote in local, state, or federal elections;
  2. Right to serve on a civil or criminal jury either in your state or in the federal courts;
  3. Right to hold a public office in your state; and/or
  4. Right to own or possess a firearm.

In many states, you may lose your privilege to obtain a state issued driver’s license regardless if you had one prior to your conviction.

When is a Felon Eligible for Restoration of at Least Some of Their Rights?

This depends on the state in which your convicted or whether your conviction is a federal one. Each state has their own process for deciding whether some or none of the listed rights and privileges are restored for a felony conviction.

  • After Release from Jail: some states allow rights such as voting and obtaining a driver’s license, to be restored immediately.
  • After Sentence has been Completed: some states require that the full sentence be fulfilled such as satisfactorily completing any supervised probation or parole before any rights are restored.
  • Expunging the Conviction: can restore most, if not all, of your civil rights if your conviction is eligible.
    • You must file for this relief and have a court order removing the conviction to properly restore your rights.

  • Receiving an Official Pardon: from either the President, if a federal conviction, or the Governor of your state, if a state conviction, can successfully restore all of your civil rights and privileges.

Are Any of the Rights Lost Automatically Restored for a Felon?

Automatic restoration of your rights can occur if you receive a full pardon for your crime or your conviction is successfully expunged from your record. However, you may still have to register to vote or apply for a new license after restoration.

For other restoration processes in your state, you may have to submit additional documentation such as:

  • A certified  court record showing completion of parole or probation;
  • Documentation of completion of certain rehabilitation programs such as drug/alcohol or mental health treatment; and/or
  • Proof that the statutory time limit passed for having a clean record before applying for restoration.

How Do I Restore My Gun Rights After Being Convicted of a Felony?

Firearm rights are strictly regulated by both the federal government and each state and continue to change each year. Convicted felons are one group of individuals that are highly controversial in the ongoing debate of gun rights.

As a result, there can be many laws and sources that you must check to see if you qualify for firearm ownership or even simply possessing a firearm. Failing to comply with the regulations could result in a new criminal charge of unlawfully possessing or owning a firearm as a felon.

The following methods may allow you to be eligible again for gun ownership or possession:

  1. Full pardon of your crime by the President or Governor depending on the jurisdiction that convicted you; and/or
  2. Expungement or expunction of the conviction that prohibited you from possessing or owning a gun.

Some crimes, whether they are a felony or not, may prohibit you from owning or possessing a gun regardless of whether you successfully completed your sentence such as violent crimes, sexual offenses, and domestic violence.

How Do I Restore My Voting Rights After Being Convicted of a Felony?

You may be eligible for restoration of your voting rights by completing your sentence or even just being released from jail depending on the state’s law. You may still be required to register, however. Some states prohibit felons from voting unless you qualify for a pardon or by expunging your conviction.

How Do I Restore My Jury Rights After Being Convicted of a Felony?

Restoring your right to sit on a jury is usually similar to the voting right restoration in most states. It’s important to check your local laws before you start the process, as you may already have your rights restored depending on the circumstances and the laws of your state.

How Do I Restore My Driver’s License Privileges After Being Convicted of a Felony?

Obtaining a driver’s license is one of the easiest to restore after you are released from jail. Depending on the state, you may be eligible either after release or after completion of your sentence and compliant with all driver’s license requirements.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me Restore My Rights?

If you are facing a felony charge, a criminal lawyer can help you understand what rights you are at risk of losing if convicted. If you have already been convicted, a lawyer can assist you in filing for a pardon or see if you are eligible to expunge your conviction. They can also check to see what specific requirements are needed to restore your rights in your state.