Think Before You Plead: Collateral Consequences of Felony Conviction

Criminal defendants are often persuaded into pleading to a felony charge to avoid incarceration or the risks associated with a jury trial. Often, those individuals are unaware of the collateral consequences associated with a felony conviction. The consequences of a felony conviction are far and wide and impact almost every aspect of a person's life, including education, employment, recreation, travel, and housing. This article only highlights a portion of the collateral consequences of a felony conviction. For a more in-depth list of collateral consequences, please visit the National Institute of Justice's website at http://www.abacollateralconsequences.org/.

Any person convicted of a felony is disqualified from:

  • Voting - W. Va. Code § 3-2-2(b)
  • Serving on Jury - W. Va. Code § 52-1-8
  • Holding Public Office - W. Va. Code § 6-5-5
  • Possessing Firearm - W. Va. Code § 61-7-7
  • Receiving Public Retirement Benefits - W. Va. Code § 5-10A-4
  • Driving a Commercial Vehicle - W. Va. Code § 17E-1-13(b)

Additionally, an individual's license to practice in a certain profession or occupation can be revoked based upon a felony conviction. Some common examples include:

  • Teachers
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Therapists
  • Engineers
  • Veterinarians
  • Pharmacists
  • Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and Appraisers
  • Social Workers
  • Accountant
  • Morticians
  • Barbers and Cosmetologists
  • Surveyors

Felony convictions will always remain on a person's criminal record. West Virginia has no procedure for the expungement of a felony conviction.

A felony conviction can also present problems for immigration. Individuals classified as an "alien" are deportable if convicted of a felony under 8 U.S.C. § 1227.

For individuals who have previously been convicted of a felony, the recidivist statute, W. Va. Code § 61-11-18, permits a prosecutor to enhance a sentence for a subsequent felony offense.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in representing individuals charged with felony offenses. We explain the consequences of a felony conviction to ensure our clients make an informed decision about their case.