When Does a Felony Fall Off Your Record?

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There are approximately seven million persons in the U.S. serving time in prison.  In addition there are millions of others who have been released, having served their time for their offenses.

Even after their release there are consequences to be paid for those transgressions.  Those are called collateral consequences.  A question that is often asked is how long does it take for a felony to drop off your record.

In the case of a felony, the answer, unfortunately, is that a felony remains on your record forever unless you are able to get it expunged, but that process differs from state to state and the type of felony.

This is not necessarily the case for a misdemeanor, however.

This blog post will cover having a felony record.

  • Why Does a Felony Remain on Your Record?
  • Rights That Are Restricted or Lost as a Result of a Felony
  • How to Handle a Permanent Felony Record
  • How to Help a Felon Cope with the Impact of a Felony Record

Why Does a Felony Remain on Your Record?

The answer is in understanding that a felony is the most serious type of crime and includes offenses like murder, armed robbery, fraud, sexual offenses, and arson.

Being convicted of a felony is not taken lightly.  There is along legal process involved, which includes arraignment, pretrial meetings, motion hearings, and a trial.

When someone is convicted of a felony, the crime is considered serious enough to often earn a lengthy prison sentence.  Even then, it will remain on your record forever.

There is difference between being arrested, charged, and convicted of a felony.  Each remains on your record for different lengths of time.

They will remain on your record until they are expunged, removed from public record.  This requires a petition to the court for removal.

Public records are typically kept a various government levels, local, state, and federal.

Not just anyone can view these public records. Being in the public record means that law enforcement, employers, landlords, and banks can view your entire conviction history.

Those who may view those records are people you have given consent to, including potential employers.  A good way to figure out if your felony can be expunged is to use LegalMatch which is a service we are an affiliate of that helps you connect with a lawyer for free.

Rights That Are Restricted or Lost as a Result of a Felony

As a result of a felony staying on your record for life, there are certain privileges that become restricted.

First, a convicted felon loses the right to vote and cannot hold or run for public office, although these rights may be restored.

The right to vote can be restored in most states after he has served all incarceration time, completed parole, and paid all fines.

A felon is disqualified from jury service for seven years after conviction.

You will not allowed to possess a firearm or hold a permit to use a gun after a felony conviction.

A professional license or permit may be lost, but licensing agencies have restricted abilities to revoke licenses.

This is because a person cannot be disqualified from engaging in any occupation, profession, or business for which a state license is required because of a conviction except under certain circumstances.

Employers can ask applicants if they have been convicted of a crime, although federal anti-discrimination laws put some restrictions on use of criminal history.

Housing can be difficult to find as many landlords will not rent to a felon because of the potential risk they may pose to current residents.

Security clearances for teaching, working with children, and security may be restricted.

Those convicted of drug related offenses may lose the ability to obtain federal financial aid for college.

A felon may lose parental rights, such as custody or visitation.  A felon may not be able to enter certain countries on a passport or visa.

You may be turned down for loans or a mortgage from banks or other financial institutions with a felony on your record.

How to Handle a Permanent Felony Record

One of the areas of greatest impact is on finding a job following a felony conviction.  It is extremely frustrating to go through a lengthy job search.  Though we do have a list of employers that are felon friendly.

It will usually work to your advantage to be honest with a potential employer about your felony.  If a potential employer discovers you have lied, you will immediately lose the opportunity for a job with them.

A potential employer can easily, and usually does, conduct a background check and find out about your criminal history.  While this does not mean that you are excluded from finding a job, even in a quality area.

It will certainly require more time and diligence, but it can be done.  It may require additional education, but this is possible.

Having a felony on your record permanently will have long reaching consequences on your reputation.  The label and stigma will be there like the conviction forever.

While a felony will remain on your record, remember that you are a fallible human being.  So don’t allow yourself to be defined by your record.

How to Help a Felon Cope with the Impact of a Felony Record

As the family of a felon, it is important to provide support.  The convicted felon likely already feels shunned by society and needs to know that his family and friends are there during these most difficult times that lie ahead.

Give them encouragement and support.  Help them to feel worthwhile despite their past mistakes.

Do you have a felony on your record?  How has it impacted your job search?

About the author

After earning his MBA from Benedictine University, Ron was looking for a new challenge and stumbled on the idea of helping the formerly incarcerated.

Using what he learned, Ron developed this website as a free resource and has worked with his team​ to continue answering questions for those in need.

11 thoughts on “When Does a Felony Fall Off Your Record?”

  1. I received my first felony at the age of 19. I went on the run with my boyfriend at time for a crime he committed. Thought I was in love. When he got caught, I was charged as well. From that point on I only gained more charges through the years. Now it’s been 10 years since I have had any legal issues, charges, or convictions. I have applied for job after job. No luck. Due to my record I have been unemployed for years and remain jobless because the choices I made more then 10 years ago. My advice don’t break the law. You are only breaking your self and preventing yourself from having any type of a normal life. Even at my best, I still get frowned on by some. All because of my past. We live in a judgemental society as is, we only give society more to feed off of when we make these bad choices in our own lives. I just pray God blesses me one day with any type job/career. I’m a mother of two and I want to give my girls something to be proud of. And to show them the best way of life possible. Work for what you want. Hard work pays off. I can only say it today. Maybe show them in the future. God bless you all.

  2. My heart goes out to you because I have a felony record for 35 years and shunned by society. It is never easy to manage each day knowing that there are too many barriers that one has to contend with. I don;t know the answer as how to overcome the obstacles but I can offer support if you need it. Unless society is willing to provide a second chance I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Good Luck God Bless.

  3. Well unfortunately my heart does not go out to you or nor do I feel bad for you either. I am also convicted felon for drugs in weapons charges class X in several ones twos in threes I did prison time and yes I had a hard time train or getting a job at 1st but I haven’t been unemployed longer than 2 weeks from the time I had got out of prison and there was only by choice I could find a job every day of the week yes your maybe some places that frown upon us and look down on us in what not but you using the fact that you’re a felon or your criminal history hold you back from getting a job is just a bunch of malarkey you’re lazy and you choose not to work I don’t care what you say and you may think I’m an a**hole whatever the case may be there are jobs out there you just feel that the jobs not even worth you taking or you’re too good for it or whatever the case may be it comes down to the fact 100% you are lazy so get off the couch and TV in get on craigslist indeed whatever job sites are are out there in I can guarantee that you will have a job in less than a week the and again I’m not trying to be rude or jerk or whatever I just feel and that people say that they can’t get a job or nobody will hire them or whatever I think it’s an excuse to use because they don’t want to or they want other people to feel sympathy for them or what not so I don’t know our leave my email or whatever the case may be and you can E mail me in our help you find a job and I can guarantee there are find your job in less than a week the thing is is whether you’re willing to work that job that’s the question or are you too good to go work the job that’s what it all comes down to good luck in your endeavors and quit using that you’re a felon or whatever for not having a job in I’m a felon in I make really good money in do not have a problem finding a job at all Good luck In May God help you find your venture of being honest with yourself why you can’t find a job.

    • right on!!… I’ve heard ( I can’t ) find a job from people all my life!… I always say the same thing my dad said…it’s because you ain’t looking for one!!…truth is a powerful thing!!

  4. I think it depends on the felony conviction. For example, those with sex offenses I think the hardest time finding a job due the stigma attached. Potential employers do not care about the details or reasons behind the conviction or if you were a victim of circumstance. All they see is the charge and that is enough for them not to hire you. Is it fair, life isn’t fair, but its unjust. So, some have an easier time finding a job than others.

  5. I am a convicted felon and I have served 10 years straight with no parole. All felonies are not the same. All have different classifications……a conviction of sex offenses or drugs is a low class felony. As for armed robbery, murder,night time burglary etc. These are considered high level felonies. Drug offenders and sex offenders can get jobs quick yes there is some restrictions but as for the rest … theft, murder so on and so on its hard… I have had good jobs and I have been denied jobs that I was more than qualified for. I had to start my own business and even that has limitations. Some of the company’s we subcontract thru I can not even enter or go on the premises of.. Grant’s are available to anyone and only drug offenses are not eligible for them so it is great that some have had good reviews for getting jobs as felons. Nobody with an education is looking to work fast food knowing that they are better than that. I have 5 college degrees yes I got them while incarcerated but that’s because I did not waste my time on sitting around playing cards and watching TV. Do you realize that I should have? Yes I am educated but being a felon they mean nothing to society.
    Thanks for listening to me rant about this because I am in the process of starting a second business for repossession services but now being a felon I have to put the business under wifes name and act as an agent just to this career. So there is ways around everything just depends how bad you want it and how much time you put into research..

  6. Hi there, I totally agree with John’s post. It’s all about how bad you want it and how driven you are to get it. I have an 11 year old felony drug conviction and my civil rights restored. I am now a wife and mother so maybe that’s been my drive but I landed a job as a housekeeper and I’ve held onto that job for over two years now. It might not be the most glorious job but it pays the bills and gives me some freedom. Longevity and loyalty go a long way in opening more doors for a better job; you have to start somewhere just like everyone else. One open door leads to another so dedication and determination are a must. Those of you who use your felony as a crutch are only holding yourself back. Nobody can hold you back but yourself. Just get off your ass and find a job, anything will do to start out with. That will take you places and it’s up to you to go out there and do something about it. You have to apply yourself just like anyone. There are good people out there who are smart enough to look past your felony and know that you are employable. Dont let the ones who aren’t get the best of you. It’s the employers who give you the chance that really matter. Not the ones who don’t see past your past! Opportunity is out there, it’s up to you to go and find it. Stay motivated and always have a positive attitude and the rest will fall into place.

  7. I have this to those who think that myself and others are somehow lazy to.get a job and lack of motivation. It depends on the state where you live when you receive a felony. Those of us who have been unemployed for a long time are not lazy, dumb, or are couch potatoes. It is quite insulting to assume that those of us want sympathy far from it. So, for those wjo.seem deemed to call other felons names without knowing their circumstances is no better than those in society that judge us harshly and want us to disappear from the earth.

  8. I have this to those who think that myself and others are somehow lazy to.get a job and lack of motivation. It depends on the state where you live when you receive a felony. Those of us who have been unemployed for a long time are not lazy, dumb, or are couch potatoes. It is quite insulting to assume that those of us want sympathy far from it. So, for those who.seem deemed to call other felons names without knowing their circumstances is no better than those in society that judge us harshly and want us to disappear from the earth.

  9. Depends on charges people are more willing to forgive felony DRUG charges Verses charges related to the theft or dishonestly charge there is no way you are getting the job even at McDonald’s They second-guess your ability to be trustworthy for a mistake that was almost 10 years ago. Ps stay out of Florida, everything is considered a felony. lazy has nothing to do with it, also not to mentiin a man with a felony vs. A woman with a felony. The only way I’ve gotten jobs is by lying on my app or changing somethings. Sad but true. Even with education is doesnt matter.


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