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:
- Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and Appraisers
- Social Workers
- Barbers and Cosmetologists
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.