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How Long Does a Felony Stay On Your Record?
(Does Felony Ever Go Away?)

In most states, a felony criminal conviction will stay on your record forever; however, there are certain steps offenders can take to get the felony legally expunged.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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What is a Felony?

A felony is a crime that can result in a sentence of over 1 year in prison. However, exactly which offenses are considered felonies vary from state to state. Certain felonies can result in a sentence of probation/no incarceration, while others can involve jail or prison sentences and “suspended time.” The most serious felonies can carry life sentences or even the death penalty in many states and the federal system.

Felony Expungement Law

State laws allow individuals who have completed their sentence for a felony offense to petition to have their case dismissed. If the petition is granted, the court will permit the person to withdraw their plea of guilty or no contest, or if convicted, the court will drop the guilty verdict. The court will also then dismiss the information or accusations against the defendant.

How is a Felony Expunged?

In order to get a felony conviction expunged from your record, you must first ask the court to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor. Felony charges that are eligible for expungement are typically those that the prosecutor could have charged as a misdemeanor but did not. In most cases, the court will grant this kind of petition.

Which Felonies are Eligible for Expungement?

Each U.S. state has its own list of crimes that are eligible for expungement. Criminal records that are more likely to be eligible for expungement include:

  • Juvenile offenses
  • Charges that were dropped or dismissed
  • Arrest records
  • Infractions
  • Non-violent crimes
  • Low-level misdemeanors

Which Felonies Cannot be Expunged?

Even in states that are generous with expungement, there are still certain felonies that cannot be sealed, including:

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What Rights Do You Lose With a Felony?

While all states have slightly different penalties, there are some common rights that are almost always revoked. In most states, convicted felons will lose the following rights:

  • Voting rights
  • Ability to travel abroad
  • Gun ownership
  • Jury service
  • Employment in certain fields
  • Public assistance and housing
  • Parental rights

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