How might being convicted of a felony affect my future?
A felony is a serious offense that could impact your freedom and your future. While most people charged with a felony recognize that they could face imprisonment, they might not realize the other collateral consequences to a felony conviction. Our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers discuss the true consequences of a felony conviction and what actions you can take to avoid being convicted of any one of these serious crimes.
What is a felony in New Jersey?
While most states classify crimes into two main categories, misdemeanors and felonies, New Jersey takes a slightly different approach. New Jersey law uses the terms Indictable Crimes and Disorderly Persons Offenses instead of misdemeanors and felonies. A felony will typically be viewed as any charge with the potential for incarceration for more than six months. This will include crimes of the First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree, and Fourth Degree under New Jersey law. Accordingly, you can determine whether the crime you are charged with is a misdemeanor or felony in New Jersey by looking to whether it is one of any “Degree.”
Collateral Consequences of a Felony
If you are convicted of a felony, prison time will not be the only consequence. Felony convictions will result in the curtailment of your civil rights. As someone with a felony conviction, you will not be able to vote or exercise your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. If you have been convicted of a sex crime, you will have to register on the Sex Offender Registry. As a sex offender, you will have to observe numerous rules, including restrictions as to where you can live.
Drug-related felonies also carry harsh penalties beyond your prison sentence. Drug offenders may not be able to receive federal education loans and grants, food stamps, and could be ineligible to live in public housing.
Perhaps above all else, a felony conviction can impact your job and ability to obtain a job. Your felony conviction will be visible to all employers and could lead to the loss of your current job position or rejection by potential new employers.
To avoid the harsh consequences of a felony conviction, it is imperative that you retain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will initiate prompt investigations and combat the charges against you, which can make all the difference in avoiding conviction.