A violent crime refers to any criminal act involving physical harm or threats to another person. Violent crimes are generally considered felonies which are punishable by at least a year in prison and large fines. Individuals accused of criminal acts are considered violent offenders or felony offenders.

Does a Violent Offender Lose Any Rights?

Yes. Many individuals who are considered violent offenders lose rights afforded to them by the U.S. Constitution. For example, offenders lose the right to sit on a jury. However, the type of rights taken away may also depend on the jurisdiction where the individual lives.

Can I Own a Gun?

No. As a violent offender, you are usually prohibited from legally possessing a gun. Many jurisdictions require firearm dealers to conduct background checks prior to selling an individual a gun to ensure that person purchasing the gun is not a violent offender.

Can I Apply for Public Benefits?

The rights to public benefits such as food stamps, cash assistance, SSI, and public housing are prohibited for a violent offender.

What About My Visitation and Custody Rights for My Children?

A violent offender’s criminal past will affect their rights regarding visitation and/or custody. Many people convicted of violent crimes do have their parental rights diminish. This is especially true in custody and divorce battles.

Can I Regain Some Rights After Leaving Prison?

Yes. However, it depends on the state where the individual lives. Some jurisdictions prohibit violent offenders from voting until they are released from prison. Other jurisdictions ban voting for life because of the violent crime.

Offenders retain the right to a U.S. passport. It is important to note that while the United States will permit the individual to travel abroad, the country they want to visit may not.

Am I Barred from Obtaining a Job?

Your violent criminal record may prevent you from being hired by certain employers. Many private employers conduct criminal background checks on all of their applicants, and some employers may not hire someone who was convicted of a violent crime. Violent criminals are also prohibited by the federal government from jobs in professions such as:

  • Teaching
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Military
  • Child care

Should I Contact an Attorney?

Being convicted of a violent crime can have a substantial negative impact on your personal and professional life long after you have finished serving a prison sentence. If you want to understand more about the rights you may lose as a result of such a conviction, contact a criminal attorney.