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After a Felony Conviction, What Rights Do You Lose?

By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on February 2, 2021

As an American citizen, you have certain rights that you may assume you’ll never lose. Sadly, that may not be true. After a felony conviction, you will lose incredibly important rights. This kind of loss can leave your life in shambles.

Losing Your Rights

As with all other states, convicted felons lose certain rights in California. This is true even after they have served their sentence and been released from prison. Considering that the purpose of prison is partially to reform criminals and aid them in becoming productive members of society, the fact that felons lose any rights following their release is deplorable. There is good news, however. Advocacy groups are fighting to give felons their rights back. In fact, in California, felons now have the right to vote, even while in prison. Considering that felony sentences could last several years, the previous status quo meant that many felons were barred from voting in several elections, both on the state and federal level.

The work is not finished, however, since felons still lose several other rights upon being convicted.

International Travel

Felons are legally allowed to possess a passport, so you may assume that they would be able to travel internationally as well, given that is the point of a passport. That is not the case. Many countries require a visa in order to visit, and felons who apply for one are often denied. While there may be some countries that allow you to enter, there will be many more that bar you from crossing their borders.

Gun Ownership

Under the Second Amendment, all U.S. citizens are promised the right to own firearms. However, being convicted of a felony in California results in a lifetime ban from owning or using a gun. This is true even if you were convicted of a felony in another state and moved to California following your release from prison. Any felony conviction means that your Second Amendment rights are stripped from you.


You are not denied the right to employment as a felon. However, getting hired with a felony on your record can be incredibly difficult. It is legal for employers to deny you employment based on your criminal record, and many employers will run background checks before offering you a position.

On top of that, there are certain jobs that a felon cannot hold. Many government-based jobs, such as police officer and solider, require a clear criminal history. Jobs that require a professional license, such as doctor and childcare agent, will also deny felons, as felons are not allowed the hold the required licenses.

Assistance Programs

Considering how difficult it may be for you to find a job, you may turn to assistance programs in order to make ends meet. California, as well as the federal government, has many such programs to help the homeless and unemployed. But as a felon, you may be denied access to these programs, leaving you unable to benefit from food stamps or subsidized housing.


One of the worst rights you may lose if you are a parent is the right to raise your child. First, you cannot raise a child from prison. In order to make sure your child is given the care and attention he or she needs while you are serving your sentence, the court may give custody to another party. This may be your spouse, your child’s other parent, or another relative if your co-parent is deemed unfit to raise your child.

Second, felons are often considered poor influences for children, and the court may be afraid that you will hurt your child, especially if you were convicted of a violent offense. Once you are released, you may not be able to get custody of your child returned to you. You may even be denied visitation if your child’s guardian feels that allowing you to see the child is dangerous.

Fighting Felony Charges

Our society sends people to prison with the hope that their time behind bars will lead them to become reformed. However, even when felons have done their time, they are still punished for the crime. That is why, if you are facing a felony charge in Los Angeles, you need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can fight for you in court. Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP can build you a strong defense, and work to make sure that you get the best possible outcome. To speak with a member of our team, call us at (213) 688-0460 today.

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Posted in: Criminal Defense