What You Need to Know About Pleading Guilty to a FelonyOct 19, 2017 by Criminal Defense in
When you are facing criminal charges, both you and the prosecutor and have part in deciding whether your case goes to trial or not. While prosecutors stand in the way of a plea bargain, you always have the right to plead guilty or to fight for your exoneration at trial. Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer knows the thought of going to trial is intimidating. You may feel like it is not worth it, particularly when prosecutors are vocal about the strength of their case. You might be tempted to save yourself time and trouble and simply plead guilty. However, you need to think very carefully about pleading guilty to a felony. After pleading guilty to a felony, there is no turning back. You will have a felony conviction on your record, which can lead to a number of consequences.
What You Need to Know About Pleading Guilty to a Felony
Before you plead guilty to a felony, there are few things you need to know, including:
- It creates a permanent criminal record. Once you have a felony conviction on your record, it stays there. It can be very hard to have a felony expunged at a later date. In many situations, you will not be eligible for expungement at all.
- You face harsh statutory penalties. Felonies are often harshly punished under state law, particularly if you have a criminal history or there was an aggravating factor, such as the use of a deadly weapon. You can be sentenced to multiple years in prison, depending on the severity of your specific offense.
- You could have a hard time renting a home. Once you have completed your sentence, you may have to find a new place to call home. Unfortunately, many landlords will run background checks and will not rent to convicted felons.
- You may be turned down from jobs. In addition to housing difficulties, you also face employment discrimination. As long as there is a business-related reason to do so, employers can ask if you have been convicted of any felonies. They can also refuse to hire someone with a felony conviction, so long as that refusal is based on a legitimate business reason. However, even if employers do not have a real reason to deny you a job, many do anyway.
- You could have a hard time being accepted to a college. Depending on the colleges, universities, or graduate programs you apply to, you may have to disclose that you have been convicted of a felony. While some institutions will not deny you a chance at an education, others may use this fact against you and reject your application for admission.
- You could be denied certain financial aid such as loans and scholarships. Once you are accepted to a college or university, the next challenge is paying for it. Certain felony offenses can make you ineligible for federal student loans. A felony conviction could also work against you when you apply for private grants and scholarships.
- You may be ineligible for, or have a difficult time obtaining, certain professional licenses. After crossing the hurdles of getting into college and paying for it, you may still find barriers to building a successful career if you have a felony conviction on your record. Being convicted of a felony can make you ineligible for certain professional licenses, or it may make obtaining a certain licenses more difficult.
- Your child’s other parent could seek to reduce your custody or visitation rights. If you plead guilty to a felony – particularly if it relates to drugs, sex, or violence – your child’s other parent could use this against you. The child’s other parent could seek full custody of your child and ask that you be denied visitation, or that your visitation be supervised.
- You will lose your right to own a gun. Once you are convicted of a felony in California, you are no longer able to own a firearm. This is a lifetime ban unless you are able to have your right to own firearms restored through a drawn-out, complicated legal process in the future.
- You may not be able to travel to certain countries. Other countries have a right to say who can and cannot cross their border, and many choose to prohibit convicted criminals from visiting or immigrating to their land. With a felony on your record, you may not be able to enter other countries, including Canada, on vacation or for school or work without taking additional steps to gain pre-approval.
- Your application for a visa renewal, permanent residency, or citizenship could be denied. If you are currently living in the United States on a visa, pleading guilty to a felony could have a major impact your future in the country. Your request for permanent residency or to have your visa renewed could be denied.
- You could be deported. If you are undocumented, being convicted of a felony may lead to deportation.
- You lose the right to vote for a period of time. After being convicted of a felony, you are not entitled to vote while in prison, jail, on parole, or under supervision. Only once you are on probation or have entirely completed your sentence are your voting rights automatically restored.
Not Sure of Whether You Should Plead Guilty or Fight?
If you are facing criminal charges in California and you are not sure what you should do, contact experienced Fresno criminal defense attorney Mike McKneely right away. He will thoroughly review your case, explain your rights, and explain your various options. He will also discuss the potential consequences of each option so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.