A felony is a crime more serious than a misdemeanor but a crime nevertheless which is punished more severely and fined more substantially than lesser offenses. Some people might grumble that it is much harder being a law abiding citizen and considerably easier to take the deviant path to a felony charge, but what a person may not realize at the material time is that a felony attracts lifelong consequences that can create a devastating impact on the quality of their lives.
Most employers will not wait a minute and will move to terminate any employee facing a felony charge, and they cannot be upbraided for their punitive action, regardless of the fact that you could be innocent till proved otherwise. Some conscientious employers will limit action only to cases where the crime has been perpetrated in their organization. But you could be undermining your position and risk losing the job by frequent absences for court hearings and legal consultations.
There are too many hurdles in the path of higher education if you haven’t already got a degree. College applications will make you declare past convictions or pending court proceedings and won’t admit you if you have been convicted. Even if you cross the admission barrier, getting aid will be an uphill climb with nothing to gain at the summit. Federal aid and grants will be denied to you. If you were availing federal aid at the time of recording the offense, the aid program will be suspended. The Federal Pell Grant will move beyond your reach if you are charged with sexual misconduct or assault. These days even private scholarships weed out felons from their beneficiary listings.
A felony denies you the chance to apply certain jobs and professions that would be open to the general public. You can’t get hired to do school teaching work or college related assignments in the district. Being a sex offender automatically excludes a person from a wide variety of jobs, and even unions will not allow entry in these job streams. Drug and alcohol abuse may see you being denied employment as commercial vehicle operators and servicemen as you could pose a safety and security threat to company vehicles. Businesses will be doubly wary of being accused of negligently compromising recruiting rules if they hire and retain felons knowingly. Even if a person does manage to get hired, job promotion prospects will be sullied to the point that the employee faces stagnation.
Business is a veritable minefield for the felony convict. Many businesses deny licenses for felony convicts. If for example you are handling chemicals, you may not get a license for doing the job. Many jobs like the legal profession, plumbing, electricians, medical professionals, architects, nursing and so on require licenses to be renewed, and you can’t renew your existing license by concealing the felony (which itself is a crime). Disclosing the felony leads to suspension of the license barring your reentry into these professions. This could be particularly hard on people that have acquired skills and expertise that can’t be used gainfully elsewhere. Even if you have acquired a new degree, without a license you are back to the drawing board.
Most companies (at least the big ones) have a meticulous system of background checks that unearths past convictions. It is hard to bypass this system, and it severely limits the choice a felon has before him in approaching big firms for bigger jobs. Suppressing information relating to a felony, if discovered subsequently, can lead to immediate dismissal, and the prospect of another legal impasse.
For a person weighed down by a felony conviction, the light at the end of the tunnel may be the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which exhorts employers to individually evaluate every potential job applicant on all parameters that include not only the felony but also the candidate’s personal history and background, and conduct after the incident till the present date, besides his suitability for the post, before deciding his job application.