If you or somebody you know has been convicted of a felony, or they’re facing felony charges, you’re probably concerned about how it’s going to impact their future. At the moment, if they’ve only been charged and have not yet been found (or plead) guilty, then they’re going to have a lot more on their mind than how long are felonies on your record.
When you begin searching around to find out how long does a felony stay on your record, you’re going to discover a wide range of answers.
I know, that’s not what you wanted to here.
This answer is not a cop-out. It’s the truth. Depending on where the crime was committed, there can be a variety of stipulations with regard to various jurisdictions. It’s important to understand that a felony is considered a serious crime and in some jurisdictions, such as Florida, that conviction will remain on a person’s permanent record for life.
That doesn’t mean every state is going to keep those felony records permanent. There are some ways you can go about removing those convictions from public record. If a person is found not guilty, the charges are dropped or dismissed, or they win an appeal and have the conviction overturned, it becomes much easier to expunge a person’s permanent record.
To have a record expunged means it is completely removed from public record. That means it won’t remain connected to their name in any way, shape, or form.
If you managed to have a record sealed, that’s a bit different. To seal a record means it becomes removed from the public record, but it is still on the file where other law enforcement agencies can readily see it, if needed.
What’s the difference and how does that impact a person’s life after they have served their sentence?
There is a significant difference between expunging and sealing a felony conviction from public record. If a person is convicted of a felony, that is a part of their permanent public record, until such time as a state determines it should no longer be listed, depending on the crime, and potential employers, housing management or apartment owners, and more can all have access to those public records (DMV).
In the event a person successfully has their felony conviction sealed from public record, a potential employer or housing manager will no longer be able to see that conviction, but other law enforcement agencies would be able to have access to it, especially in the event they are investigating another crime.
If the record is completely expunged, no one will be able to see that you had ever been charged or convicted of a felony.
It is much easier to get a misdemeanor charge removed from public record. Felonies are considered much more serious crimes, so they will remain on the permanent record much longer and be more difficult to remove.
Does a felony ever go away?
There are various factors that will determine how long a felony will remain on a person’s public record. The type of crime, whether or not they were convicted of it, how long ago the crime occurred, and much more.
As mentioned, there are some states that will not remove felony convictions, except in rare cases. Florida is one of note.
If you’ve been charged with any type of crime, you may be wondering, “Am I a felon?” That depends on what type of charges you faced. If you were charged with a misdemeanor, then you’re not a felon. If you were charged with a felony crime, even if it was a Class E or 5 or some other classification based on the jurisdiction in which you were charged, then you’re not considered a ‘felon’ until or unless you plead guilty or no contest, or you are found guilty.
You’ll likely have a choice when facing trial to either be judged by a single judge or a jury of your peers. It’s often best to rely on a jury trial if it’s going to reach that point, but you should always consider the recommendations that your lawyer provides for you.
Can you view your own felony records?
Absolutely. While not everyone will have access to another individual’s public record (they would have to be given permission, such as on a job application form or when filing an application for an apartment rental), you can see what’s on your public record at any time.
If you were convicted of a felony in the past, it’s a good idea to check out whether or not it continues to show up on your public record and if your state generally expunges or removes felony convictions after a specific set of time, you may need to file a petition in that jurisdiction to have it removed.
Keep in mind that if you are convicted of a felony, you can lose numerous civil rights, such as the right to vote (in 14 states), the right to hold public office (in 25 states), the right to legally possess a firearm, and much more. It can affect every aspect of your life well into the future, maybe even permanently.
It may be best to consult a licensed legal representative to find out the proper process of having your felony conviction completely removed from public record.