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Will a Texas felony affect an individual’s personal rights?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Felony offenses in Texas risk a host of different penalties. Felonies are generally more serious than misdemeanor offenses. Even a state jail felony, which is the lowest-level felony offense in Texas, can lead to large fines and time in state custody.

The exact penalties will depend on the type of felony charge someone faces and the nature of the offense that led to their prosecution. Many people consider pleading guilty to criminal charges to avoid the worst-case consequences. However, a felony conviction can impact someone’s basic rights regardless of their sentencing term.

How can a felony conviction impact basic civil liberties in Texas?

Voting rights

Many people have heard that felons do not have much influence on the democratic process. In Texas, someone recently convicted and currently serving a sentence for a felony offense is unable to vote. Once someone has completed their sentence and exited state facilities, they will regain the option of voting during elections. A felony conviction will therefore have a temporary impact on someone’s voting rights.

Firearm ownership

Texas has numerous laws reinforcing the Second Amendment. However, convicted felons are among those subject to firearm ownership restrictions. Someone with a felony offense on their record will be subject to firearm ownership restrictions for five years after serving their sentence. The start date would be after someone’s release from state custody and their completion of parole or probation. Eventually, however, those who avoid reoffending can regain their legal firearm ownership rights.

Driving privileges

Occasionally, felony offenses may include driver’s license consequences among the penalties imposed by a judge. Someone accused of a felony driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense could lose their driver’s license as a consequence of their conviction. Certain other offenses, including controlled substance offenses involving defendants under the age of 21, could also potentially lead to a judge suspending someone’s driver’s license. In most cases, however, licensing penalties are neither mandatory nor automatic after a felony conviction.

Most of the penalties imposed by the courts that affect someone’s civil rights are temporary. As a result of all of these consequences, the choice to defend assertively against pending charges is typically preferable to dealing with restrictions on one’s liberties after pleading guilty.