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How Does a Felony Conviction Affect Your Life in Colorado

Posted on June 28, 2024

In Colorado, the repercussions of a felony conviction extend beyond serving time in prison or paying fines. It can affect various aspects of a person’s personal and professional life, including employment opportunities, housing, voting rights, and social relationships. 

Employment Challenges

Background Checks and Job Applications

One of the most significant effects of a felony conviction is the difficulty in securing employment. Many employers conduct background checks and may be hesitant to hire individuals with a felony record. In Colorado, while some protections exist to prevent discrimination against ex-offenders, the stigma associated with a felony can still make job hunting challenging. Certain professions, particularly those requiring licensure or working with vulnerable populations, may be entirely off-limits.

Professional Licenses

Obtaining or retaining professional licenses can be problematic. Felony convictions often disqualify individuals from receiving licenses in fields such as law, healthcare, real estate, and education. Even if licensure is possible, the process becomes more complicated and lengthy.

Housing Difficulties

Renting and Leasing

Many landlords conduct background checks and may refuse to rent to individuals with felony records. This discrimination can force individuals into less desirable living situations or lead to housing instability.

Public Housing

Public housing authorities often have strict regulations that exclude individuals with certain types of felony convictions, particularly those related to drugs or violence.

Voting and Civic Participation

Voting Rights

In Colorado, individuals with felony convictions lose their right to vote while incarcerated. However, upon release, they regain this right. Despite this reinstatement, many ex-felons are unaware of their voting rights or face bureaucratic hurdles that complicate the process of re-registering to vote.

Jury Duty

Individuals with felony convictions in Colorado are permanently barred from serving on a jury unless their civil rights are restored through a governor’s pardon or other legal means.

Social Relationships

A felony conviction can strain personal relationships. Family dynamics may change due to the stigma and stress associated with incarceration and reentry into society. Friends and community members may also distance themselves, leading to feelings of isolation.

Financial Burdens

Felony convictions often come with substantial fines and restitution payments. Meeting these financial obligations can be daunting, especially when coupled with difficulties in securing stable employment.

Loss of Income

The time spent incarcerated and the subsequent challenges in finding employment contribute to significant income loss. This loss can affect an individual’s ability to support themselves and their family, leading to long-term financial instability.

Legal and Immigration Consequences

Immigration Status

For non-citizens, a felony conviction may mean deportation and permanent inadmissibility to the United States. These legal ramifications can separate families and disrupt lives irreversibly.

Firearm Rights

In Colorado, individuals with felony convictions typically lose their right to possess firearms. This prohibition is permanent unless rights are restored through legal channels, such as a pardon.

How a Lawyer Can Help

An experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer can be instrumental in helping you avoid a felony conviction. They can challenge the prosecution’s evidence, identify procedural errors, and negotiate plea deals that might reduce your charges to lesser offenses. Additionally, a skilled defense lawyer can advocate for alternative sentencing options, such as diversion programs or probation, which can keep a felony conviction off your record. Their in-depth knowledge of legal precedents and court procedures will ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process, potentially mitigating any long-term consequences.