Experienced on both sides of the courtroom

free case evaluation

What Rights Do You Lose as a Convicted Felon in Georgia?

You might know that a conviction can be troublesome for your future, but do you understand all of the rights and freedoms you stand to lose as a convicted felon? Felony convictions can follow a person around forever, interfering with employment and housing opportunities as well as many other aspects of life. The myriad of ways a felony conviction could negatively impact your life is a major reason why you need a top criminal defense attorney. Here is an overview of the civil and federal rights you would most likely lose as a convicted felon.

Civil and Federal Rights You Won’t Have After a Felony Conviction

Civil rights are more like privileges one gets as an American. Receiving a felony conviction strips Americans of many of these privileges in the state of Georgia. As someone with a felony on your record, you could lose your right to do many things other Americans can do, including:

  • The right to vote. State law determines a convicted felon’s right to vote in federal elections. In Georgia, a convicted felon loses the right to vote until he or she completes his or her sentence.
  • The right to hold state office. A person with a felony involving “moral turpitude” cannot hold any position in office or appointment of trust until at least 10 years have passed since the completion of his/her sentence without another felony conviction and the courts have restored his/her civil rights.
  • The right to travel abroad. People with felony records can hold U.S. passports, but other countries may restrict them from entering based on their criminal records. This is because international visas are rights that individual countries have the right to deny.
  • The right to bear arms. Someone with a felony conviction in Georgia cannot receive, possess, or transport a firearm unless that person has gotten a pardon that expressly authorizes otherwise.
  • The right to use public benefits. Convicted felons will also lose eligibility for many public social benefit programs, including federal and state grants, public housing, food stamps, and federal cash assistance.
  • Parental rights. Your custody and visitation rights might change after receiving a felony conviction in Georgia. A judge might see your criminal record as a reason not to award you custody of your children.

A felony removes a person’s federal right to bear arms, or to possess a firearm. Any person with a felony conviction that results in at least a 12-months imprisonment sentence (whether or not the person serves 12 months is irrelevant) cannot purchase or own a firearm in the U.S. The specific rights you might lose as a convicted felon depend on what state gives you the conviction. An attorney can help you understand lost rights further.

Pardons and Restoration of Rights in Georgia

If you lost rights because of a felony conviction, all hope is not lost. You might qualify for a pardon or restoration of rights in Georgia. The Georgia government permits convicted felons to submit either a General Pardon and Restoration of Rights application or a Registered Sex Offender Pardon application. For the courts to consider an application for the restoration of rights, an applicant must fulfill the following requirements:

  • For a non-sex offender pardon:
    • Must have completed all sentences at least five years before applying
    • Must have avoided additional legal trouble for the five years prior to applying
    • Cannot have pending criminal charges against you
    • Must have paid your restitution and fines in full
  • For a sex-offender pardon:
    • Must have completed all sentences at least 10 years before applying
    • Must get a psychosexual evaluation within 90 days of applying
    • Must submit to a disclosure polygraph within 90 days of applying
    • Must provide the most current copy of a risk level evaluation from the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board
    • Must have avoided legal trouble for at least 10 years prior to applying
    • Cannot have pending criminal charges against you
    • Must have paid your restitution and fines in full

If the courts accept your application, you will either receive a pardon, which officially forgives your crimes due to maintaining a good reputation in your community, or a restoration of civil and political rights. Rights restoration refers to those you lose in the state of Georgia, such as the right to hold public office and serve on a jury.

Being convicted of a felony can have a variety of consequences for your future; don’t wait to contact a lawyer if you’ve been arrested on suspicion of a felony. Instead, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as you have been accused or are under criminal investigation.