Criminal Consequences: What Does Having a Felony Prevent You from Doing
Picture this: You’re cruising through life in the great state of Minnesota when, suddenly, the road takes a sharp, unexpected turn. That turn? A felony charge. It’s not just a bump in the road; it’s like hitting a brick wall.
Now, once you’ve got that “F” on your record, it’s like a big red flag to anyone who views it. Employers, landlords, and even Uncle Sam take notice. Your life gets a lot more complicated, and not in a good way.
But here’s the thing: You’re not alone in this maze. There are criminal defense attorneys out there who are like your tour guides, helping you find your way out. We’ll walk you through all the twists and turns so you know what’s ahead.
Join us on this journey as we explore the aftermath of a felony charge in Minnesota.
What is a Felony Charge in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, like in many other states, crimes are classified into different categories based on their severity. The classification typically includes felonies, gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors, and petty misdemeanors. Felony charges are the most serious criminal offenses. They are crimes punishable by more than one year in prison.
Some examples of felony crimes in Minnesota include:
- Fraud or identity theft
- Sale or possession of illegal drugs
- Sex crimes
If you are facing felony charges, it’s essential to hire an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney right away. An aggressive defense may get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
7 Key Ways a Felony Conviction Can Turn Your Life Upside Down
1. Permanent Criminal Record
Once convicted of a felony in Minnesota, you will have a permanent criminal record for the rest of your life. Every background check will clearly show employers and landlords that you’re a convicted felon.
Even if you qualify for expungement after a certain number of years, the record still exists in the Minnesota court system and law enforcement databases.
This criminal record can prevent you from getting jobs, rental housing, loans, and professional licenses. It also severely limits your travel privileges.
2. Loss of Civil Rights
In Minnesota, felons lose the right to vote until they complete their full sentence or are on parole.
Felons are also prohibited from holding public office, serving on a jury, or owning firearms in Minnesota. Certain felony convictions, like those for sex crimes, come with additional restrictions.
3. Difficulty Finding Employment
Most employers conduct criminal background checks on applicants. When potential employers see a felony conviction, you can often be disqualified from jobs at banks, schools, medical facilities, government agencies, and any corporation with high-security standards.
Even restaurant and retail employers are reluctant to hire convicted felons because it increases their liability insurance costs.
Your employment prospects sink drastically with a felony record, especially for high-paying skilled jobs.
4. Exclusion from Professional Licenses
In Minnesota, around 100 different professions require you to have a clean criminal record before obtaining a license.
These licensed professions include nurses, accountants, engineers, real estate brokers, and commercial truck drivers. A felony conviction disqualifies you from these careers.
5. Restricted Access to Housing
Landlords frequently deny housing applications if the renter has a criminal record. Under federal law, public housing authorities can ban people convicted of certain drug offenses from living in public housing for up to five years.
As a felon, you’ll likely struggle to find rental housing in safe neighborhoods in Minnesota. Even if you own a home, neighbors and homeowner associations may try to force you to move once they learn about your felony conviction.
6. Loss of Federal Benefits
A drug-related felony conviction in Minnesota makes you ineligible for public assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and food stamps (SNAP) until you complete probation/parole.
Other federal benefits like Social Security, Medicare, and financial aid can also be suspended for those incarcerated due to a felony conviction. Regaining these benefits can require successfully petitioning each federal agency individually.
7. Financial Hardships
The financial impact of a felony conviction starts right away with attorney fees, court costs, fines, and lost income while incarcerated.
But the expenses don’t stop there. As a felon, it takes longer to pay off debt, and you’ll have a harder time getting approved for loans, credit cards, mortgages, and financing a vehicle. Auto insurance rates also skyrocket for convicted felons in Minnesota.
How Does a Felony Differ From a Misdemeanor in Minnesota?
The main factor distinguishing felonies and misdemeanors in Minnesota is punishment.
Misdemeanors only carry a maximum of 90 days in jail. Felonies are more serious crimes with penalties of over a year in prison.
Prosecutors typically categorize charges as misdemeanors or felonies based on:
- Nature of the crime: Violent crimes like murder are always felonies. Minor offenses like disorderly conduct are usually misdemeanors.
- Value amount: Thefts under $1,000 are misdemeanors, while thefts over $35,000 get felony charges.
- Drug amounts: Possessing over a certain weight of marijuana, cocaine, meth, and other controlled substances leads to felony drug charges.
- Use of a weapon: If a violent or sexual crime involves a gun or causes serious bodily harm, prosecutors push for felony charges.
- Prior record: Repeat offenders often face felony charges. For example, a third DUI within 10 years is a felony in Minnesota.
The burden is on prosecutors to prove every element of the alleged felony beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can dispute the prosecution’s version of events and seek a misdemeanor plea bargain instead.
Is it Possible to Regain Rights Lost Due to a Felony Conviction?
While the consequences of a felony conviction are severe, options exist for restoring some lost rights:
- Expungement – The process of sealing criminal records from public view. Expungement requirements vary by state but can help remove obstacles to jobs, housing, and more.
- Pardon – A pardon from the governor or president forgives a crime without clearing the record. Pardons can restore voting rights, remove deportation risk, and ease employment barriers.
- Certificate of Relief/Good Conduct – Demonstrates rehabilitation and can improve access to employment and licensure.
- Voting rights – States have processes for restoring voting rights following the completion of sentencing requirements.
Consult a felony lawyer to understand the options for regaining your rights in the state where you were convicted. While expungement provides the most benefits, all these options can help reduce the stigma of a conviction.
Don’t Go Through This Alone – Contact a Minnesota Criminal Defense Law Firm Today
Dealing with a felony charge in Minnesota is scary and overwhelming. But with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you can better understand the process, protect your rights, and work toward the best possible outcome for your future.
The attorneys at Martine Law are here to help. We have successfully defended hundreds of clients against felony and misdemeanor criminal charges. Our firm believes everyone deserves strong legal representation, no matter what mistakes you may have made.
Contact us today for a case review. Let’s start building your defense strategy together.