In addition to the possibility of imprisonment and fine, a felony conviction can have other lasting effects on your employment opportunities and civil rights. They are well worth careful consideration. Below is a brief summary of the possible consequences of a felony conviction.
Most applications for employment will ask whether or not you have been convicted of a felony. Some will also ask if you have ever been arrested. Employers may choose not to hire you based on your conviction if it is related to the position that you are seeking. If the conviction is unrelated, the employers are still permitted to consider the conviction in the hiring process, and often do so.[i]
Having a felony conviction could be an obstacle in pursuing occupations that require a state-issued license, such as real estate agent, physical therapist, or automobile dealer. Until your civil rights are restored, you will not be able to hold public office, or participate in occupations that require possession of a firearm. You will also likely be barred from a job in law enforcement, firefighting, or childcare.
Florida has one of the most restrictive felon disenfranchisement laws in the country. Once convicted of a felony, you lose the right to vote, to hold public office, to serve on a jury, and to own a firearm. Your civil rights are not automatically restored after the completion of your sentence or probation. The restoration of certain civil rights is never guaranteed; a felon must apply for discretionary review after at least a 5-year waiting period. The review process is a long one, covering a period of months or years.
A felony conviction will bar you from possessing a firearm. No hunting; no firearm in the home for self-defense; no excuses or exceptions. A convicted felon may not have a firearm in his possession or have access to a firearm. If a firearm is discovered in the possession of a convicted felon, there will be a new charge. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a serious offense, punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. It is highly likely that a conviction for this charge will result in some prison time.
It is possible, in limited circumstances, for a person convicted of a felony to apply to have his right to possess a firearm restored. He must wait at least 8 years from the completion of his sentence, and remain arrest and conviction free for the whole period. However, some individuals are precluded from ever having this right restored, if the conviction was in federal, military, or out-of-state court.
A felony conviction can have a lasting effect on your life, even if you do not receive a sentence of imprisonment. If you are facing a felony allegation, it is important for you to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Donald A. Lykkebak has been representing clients in Central Florida for over 35 years. He will discuss your case with you, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the State's case, and help identify the best course of action.
The best defense may be to fight the charges outright through an affirmative defense, or by challenging the State's case, and perhaps insisting on a jury trial. Sometimes, the best course of action may be to negotiate for a reduced charge, or obtain a withhold of adjudication. If adjudication is withheld, the above restrictions will not apply to you, although you will still be placed on probation. Then it will be necessary for you to complete the probationary sentence successfully. For some, probation can be challenging.
If adjudication is withheld, or if the case against you is dismissed, it may be possible to have your record sealed or expunged. If successful in that process (which involves a separate proceeding after your arrest is resolved), you will be able to answer "no" to employment inquiries regarding arrests and convictions. For more information, please see our page regarding Sealing and Expunging Records.
At The Law Office of Donald A. Lykkebak, we offer complimentary initial consultations at our office location. For scheduling, call 407-217-1691, toll free at 800-701-1859 or contact the firm online. Off-site, evening and weekend appointments are available. Payment plans and all major credit cards are accepted.
[i] If the felony conviction is unrelated to the position sought, employers are not permitted to discriminate against felons solely because of their conviction. Employers are, however, allowed to take the felony conviction into consideration.