RESTORING YOUR CIVIL RIGHTS AFTER A FELONY CONVICTION
What Rights are lost after a felony conviction?
A felony conviction suspends a person’s civil liberties. The person loses the right to vote, the right to hold public office of trust or profit, the right to serve as a juror and right to possess a gun. A felony conviction may also prevent a person from obtaining business and professional licenses, government secured loans and housing.
How can you restore those Rights?
A person’s civil liberties may be restored depends on the state. Some rights are automatically restored upon completion of a term of incarceration and probation; or receipt of an absolute discharge from imprisonment if the person paid all imposed fines or restitution. However, this does not apply to the right to possess a weapon. To restore the right to possess a weapon the person must file an application with in the state court where you were convicted. As a national advocacy organization, Rise-N-Step assists members with restoration of rights in every state. Please sign up for membership.
What if you have felony convictions in more than one state?
A person wishing to restore their civil liberties must do so in the state in each state which the felony conviction occurred. Many states automatically restore a person’s civil liberties upon completion of probation or discharge from the department of corrections. A person should contact each state in which the conviction occurred to obtain information regarding the restoration process. Contact us for more information.
What if you were convicted of a felony in federal court?
A person convicted of a felony in federal court may apply to restore their civil liberties in the county in which they currently reside, not where they were convicted. However, the state may not restore the person’s right to possess a fire arm or have their judgment of guilt vacated or set aside.
Am I eligible to restore my rights?
If you have completed your time please call us or email us to determine whether your rights were restored upon completion of probation or absolute discharge from the Department of Corrections or Bureau of Prisons.
What does it mean to set aside a judgment?
Upon completion of probation or sentence and discharge by the court a person may file to have their judgment set aside. Setting aside a judgment releases the citizen from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction. Setting aside judgment does not seal or expunge one’s record. The record is still accessible to the public. However, the record will have a notation stating that the judgment has been set aside. Some employers are more likely to view the setting aside of a judgment favorably. The setting aside of a judgment lets the employer know that the court is satisfied that the person has been rehabilitated. The setting aside of judgment does not apply to Department of Motor Vehicle records or Department of Fish and Wildlife. A felony that has been set aside may be used at a subsequent trial as a prior felony conviction. Persons convicted of criminal offenses involving infliction of serious physical injury, exhibition or use of a weapon, sexual motivation or a victim under fifteen or aged may not have their judgment vacated.
Where can I get an application?
You can get an application from the Court website in the county where you were convicted and look for: Service Center/ Forms/Criminal Cases. This will take you to the Criminal Court forms, and you will want to click on “Requesting the Restoration of Civil Rights Form”. This is the application you will need to complete this process. You may also pick up an application in person at the courthouse. Carefully read over the form to ensure you know what information the form is requesting or call us for assistance with the form.
Where do I get a copy of my Absolute Discharge?
Certificate of Absolute Discharge from the Department of Corrections may be obtained from the Department of Corrections in your state by requesting the records in writing. Absolute Discharges from the Federal Bureau of Prisons may be obtained at the clerk’s office of the United States District Court in the city where you were convicted by contacting the restoration clerk. Or you can call Rise-N-Step for assistance.
Once I complete the application, then what?
After making a copy of the completed application and absolute discharge (if you were sentenced to the Department of Corrections in your state), file the documents at the Court Clerk’s desk marked criminal at the Court house. The Court will send you written notice of whether your request was granted or denied. It may take up to 90 days or more to get your notice depends on the state. If the Court denies your application the court will provide you with the reason for the denial. You may file an application for reconsideration.
My felony was dropped to a misdemeanor, but background checks are still showing that I have a felony. Why?
It appears that the state does not forward the information regarding a person’s designation from a felony to misdemeanor to anyone. This means that when background checks are done, the charges are still showing as felonies. You need to make copies of your designation form and write a note asking the following entities to please change the information in their databases. The three (3) entities that need to be contacted about this issue are: The Department of Corrections in your state, the Clerk of the Court in the county you were convicted and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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