How Do Criminal Convictions Affect Voting Rights?
Voting rights are important to many Americans. Especially in today’s political climate, the right to vote is a great way to make your voice heard. And, as California proposes more and more controversial laws, every vote counts. Unfortunately, a person convicted of a felony may lose his or her right to vote. While this may be the least of your worries when facing felony charges, it is nevertheless important to understand how a conviction can affect you in all areas of your life.
Many people don’t know how a felony conviction can affect one’s voting rights. This is understandable considering each state will have a different policy on this. Contrary to what many people believe, not all felons automatically lose their right to vote permanently. Some felons automatically have their right to vote restored upon release from incarceration. Some must petition to have their voting rights restored after a conviction. In California, voting rights for felons are restored once their sentence is complete, meaning they’ve been released and have finished their parole or probation. California felons cannot vote while incarcerated and while on probation or parole. The exception to this is if the judge suspended your sentence and you are placed on probation and serving no more than one year in a county jail.
Felony convictions have serious repercussions. You will temporarily lose your right to vote, you can be denied employment in many fields such as education or law and denied certain professional licenses or certificates such as nursing or insurance licenses. You also lose some civil rights (such as the right to serve on a jury) and even are banned from owning or possessing a firearm. You will also face significant difficulty if you want to enlist in the military service, run for public office or hold certain governmental positions. Applying for waivers or petitioning to have your conviction reduced to a misdemeanor on your criminal record can help you overcome some of these difficulties, but there is no guarantee you will be given a leniency as a felon and the steps you need to take to do this can be complicated.
On top of these consequences, you will have the stigma of a felony conviction above your head for life. This can affect your career, your rights, your dignity and reputation. Accordingly, take all felony charges seriously and speak with an attorney about your options if you want a chance of avoiding any of these repercussions. In some, but not all, felony cases, a skilled attorney may be able to successfully reduce your charge to a misdemeanor. This will make a big difference in your sentence and the long-term consequences of your conviction. This is an option all those facing felony charges should learn about. Certain convictions will not be eligible for such a reduction, and the facts and circumstances of your case will have a bearing on whether or not a reduction is possible for you.
If you are facing felony charges, you should speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney. Felony charges can do much more than just revoke your voting rights temporarily. Certain convictions can cause you to lose your gun rights, your right to move wherever you want or even your right to leave or reenter the country. With so much at stake, you owe it to yourself to explore your options with a skilled attorney. A criminal defense attorney in your area can explain what your charges mean and advise you on the penalties the court can impose. An attorney can also help you understand your options and choose the one that is best for you so you can seek a just resolution to your case.
Are you in the Visalia or Tulare area and facing criminal charges? At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we are experienced in criminal defense and can tenaciously fight for your rights in court. Criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens has successfully represented clients in criminal trials in Fresno, Tulare, and Kings Counties for over ten years and will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com to discuss your case.