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Collateral Consequences: What really happens after a felony conviction?

A felony conviction is a serious matter. Unlike a misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to 12 months in jail and a fine, a felony carries far worse consequences. If convicted of a felony, the individual could spend at least one year in prison in addition to paying hefty fines. But the consequences of a felony conviction go beyond incarceration fines. There are additional collateral consequences that can have lifelong affects.

Loss of Federal Assistance

Public housing

  • The landlord of a federally subsidized project has the authority to evict an individual convicted of a felony. In the case of drug related convictions, family or other related persons associated with said person arrested for a drug related offense can also be evicted.

Financial aid (depends on the type of felony of which an individual has been convicted)

  • A student seeking higher education is not eligible for federal assistance if he/she is convicted under federal or state law of a crime involving possession or sale of a controlled substance. This aid includes grants, loans, and work assistance. The punishments are different for a conviction of possession and a sale conviction. For a conviction of possession, a person is ineligible for one year for a first offense, two years for a second offense, and indefinitely for a third offense. For a sale conviction, a person is ineligible for two years for a first offense and indefinitely after a second offense.

Food stamps and TANF

Loss of Civil Rights

Right to Vote

  • Upon conviction of a felony, an individual cannot vote, hold public office or be a candidate for office while the person is under sentence. Voting rights can be restored depending on the state in which you reside.

Right to bear arms

  • For individuals that do not own firearms this consequence will not be too much of an issue. However, for those that enjoy hunting, going to the gun range, or being able to have a firearm in general for the protection of oneself and one’s family, this poses several problems. Once you have a felony conviction, you can never possess a gun in Georgia, and you can be criminally prosecuted if you are found possessing a weapon.

Right to participate on juries

  • You cannot sit on a jury with a felony conviction while under sentence. This right can also be restored under certain circumstances.


  • Depending on the type of conviction, an individual may face the loss of a professional license or permit. Some professions that may require an individual’s license be revoked include: architects, attorneys, any profession under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health, psychologists, medical doctors, individuals and businesses selling insurance, etc.
  • State and federal employees can also be dismissed from their positions.

Armed Forces

  • An individual convicted of a felony is ineligible to enlist in any service of the armed forces.
  • Any person guilty of mutiny, treason, sabotage, or rendering assistance to an enemy of the United States or of its allies forfeits all accrued and future gratuitous veterans benefits. 38 U.S.C. ‘ 6104(a)
  • Upon conviction of certain offenses related to national security, an individual, his survivor, and his beneficiary may not receive an annuity or retirement pay from the United States or District of Columbia government and may be subject to additional penalties regarding his collection of old-age, survivors, or disability insurance benefits, or health insurance for the aged and disabled. 5 U.S.C. ‘ 8312; 42 U.S.C. ‘ 402(u)(1).

A felony conviction carries many consequences. Many of those consequences are unknown to individuals, and there are no regulations set forth to make attorneys, judges, or prosecutors specify what those consequences might be for the Accused. If you find yourself charged with a serious crime, it is important to hire an attorney that will provide an aggressive defense and understand how a conviction may affect your livelihood.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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