Think You Know The Consequences Of A Felony Conviction? Consider These First

What happens after a felony conviction? If you've been charged with a felony-level crime, you may have already given a lot of thought to the immediate consequences of a conviction. Depending on what the prosecutor is offering, you may even be prepared to plead guilty -- especially if you're being offered minimal jail time and probation. The prosecutor's deal might seem like a bargain in comparison to the possibilities -- as long as you don't think about how that felony conviction will affect the rest of your future.

Here are the collateral consequences that a felony conviction will trigger in your life:

1. You May Lose the Right to Federal Assistance 

A felony conviction can stand in your way if you're seeking federal loans or grants for any reason. Do you hope to go to college once you're done with your sentence? You'll have to find alternative financing or foot the bill yourself. Not only are you ineligible for federal grants, but you also can't even get a federally-backed loan. In six states, you also can't get food stamps or welfare assistance, either. 

The news gets worse, too. You can also lose the right to disability benefits. While Social Security and Supplemental Security Income are generally not affected by a prior felony conviction, you'll lose entitlement if you became disabled during the commission of a felony or while in jail on a felony.

2. You Can Lose Many of Your Civil Rights

Do you want a say in how your city, state, or country is run? If you have a felony conviction, you may lose the ability to vote. In 22 states, felons lose their right to vote not just during incarceration but also during probation. Your right to vote can't be restored until you pay any fines or restitution -- which can significantly delay how long you're deprived of the ability. In a dozen states, you can lose your right to vote either for an additional period or permanently. In 19 states, you'll lose the right to bear arms as well -- which can also be permanent.

3. Your Private and Professional Futures May Suffer

A felony conviction will follow you everywhere you have to submit to a background check. It's increasingly common for employers to run criminal checks on their would-be employees -- which can make it incredibly difficult for you to find a good job (even if you already have a degree). You may also have to submit to a background check to rent a home or apartment -- which means your options could be very limited. You may also face personal discrimination -- keeping a felony conviction a secret from friends and relatives is almost impossible.

If you've been charged with a felony, don't assume that conviction is inevitable. Talk to a law firm about all your options.