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Think beyond court-imposed penalties in felony cases

Criminal charges come with a lot of uncertainty. For people who are facing felony charges, the entire court process can be stressful. During this part of the case, the defendant might be focused on the penalties that the court might impose, such as incarceration, fines or probation. Although this is understandable, there is much more that the person needs to think about.

There are some consequences of felony convictions that continue longer than the court-imposed sentences. This can be hard for the defendant to realize during the court process, but they must take the time to think carefully about these consequences as they might impact the defense strategy.

Lifelong restrictions

Your location can have a big impact on what lifelong restrictions you will face. According to Prison Fellowship, felons must cope with countless restrictions. One possible impact is the loss of felons' voting rights. Fortunately, for felons in Virginia, this restriction was lifted in 2013 and great strides have been made since then to enable people with these convictions to be able to vote in elections. It was a blow when the Supreme Court ruled against blanket restorations in 2016. However, through April of 2017, the governor individually restored the voting rights of more than 156,000 felons .

Many of the other collateral consequences also have very serious repercussions. For example, convicted felons can't hold certain jobs or get certain professional licenses. They might have trouble finding jobs due to employers' restrictions. Even finding housing might be problematic due to the felon label that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Other issues that might come up include being unable to get some public benefits or being unable to participate in certain federal programs.

Factors that can have an impact

In some cases, there are only specific types of felonies that might have these collateral consequences. For example, a person who is convicted of theft might have difficulty finding a job in retail due to concerns about asset management. A person convicted of a violent felony likely won't be able to get a teaching license. People with drug convictions might be unable to work in pharmacies.

While it might not be possible to avoid all collateral consequences in felony cases, the defendants can learn about what options exist. In some cases, pleading to a lesser charge or something similar might help avoid some of the harsher consequences.

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