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What Does Felon Mean?

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A felon refers to a person who commits a felony, or a serious crime that has a maximum penalty of more than one year in prison. In the American justice system, being a convicted felon forces one to endure a series of disadvantages, such as the right to vote, bear arms, serve on a jury, or be a notary. In addition, having a felony on one's record makes it incredibly difficult to find a reputable job and can ultimately ruin a person's entire life.

Job-Related Consequences

Some of the most frustrating consequences of being a felon are job-related. Some of these involve revocation of professional licenses or certificates, though there are certain laws around this to reduce unnecessary discrimination. In addition, employers can ask job applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime, though anti-discrimination laws place some restrictions on how employers can use criminal histories. State law also prohibits employers from taking certain actions against felons who obtain an absolute pardon to have their conviction records erased.

In addition to being severely scrutinized when it comes to employment, felons can be denied the right to adopt a child or serve as a foster family.

Higher-Education Consequences

A person convicted of a crime under federal or state law involving possession or sale of a controlled substance is ineligible for federal assistance for higher education expenses such as college tuition or other related expenses such as grants, loans, or work assistance. For a conviction of possession, a felon is ineligible for one year for the first offense, two years for the second offense, and indefinitely for the third offense. A student felon can regain eligibility for federal aid before the end of the specified period if he or she successfully completes a drug rehabilitation program with certain criteria or if the conviction is reversed or removed by other means.

Private Organization Consequences

Private organizations also consider a person's criminal background. For example, Little League regulations require members to undergo annual background checks and prohibit anyone convicted of a crime against or involving a minor from participating in any way.

Convicted felons undergo the severest of consequences both from the law and from just about any other professional or educational activities in which they wish to participate. While state laws try to reduce the occurrence of discrimination based on criminal history, many organizations have regulations that prohibit a felon from participating in many activities that the average person often takes for granted.

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