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The collateral consequences of being branded a federal felon

There are long-term penalties associated with federal convictions that go way beyond fines and prison sentences. Many government officials argue that "collateral consequences" are imposed on ex-convicts for public safety reasons. Policy reformists cite this as the reason for high recidivism rates among these individuals. If you're facing federal charges, then you need to know what the long-term implications of being branded a felon are.

Researchers with the Heritage Foundation found that there are more than 46,000 federal, state or local laws on the books that currently restrict the rights of ex-convicts post-conviction. Their research shows that whether a defendant was incarcerated or not has little to no impact on the collateral consequences that they face. The authors of the study note that defendants must fight an uphill battle simply based on having been branded a felon.

Felons face many struggles in trying to move on with their lives post-conviction. There is legislation in place that limits these individuals' abilities to qualify for public housing, a driver's or professional license, student financial aid and other public benefits, the ability to serve on a jury or run for political office, to own a firearm or to work or volunteer in certain roles.

Those ex-convicts who do complete their sentences often experience substance abuse relapses once they're freed from prison and probation officers' supervision. They do this in part because their substance abuse issues went unaddressed while they were incarcerated. They often lack the education and job skills necessary to become gainfully employed. This is only made worse once they're branded as a felon.

Federal convictions work much differently from other ones. While a defendant who's been convicted of a state-level criminal offense here in Minnesota may qualify for a seal or expungement of their record, that's not an option for federal ex-convicts. A presidential pardon is often the only option that the latter has to try and erase a conviction from their record.

The stakes are higher in federal cases. This is why you must have a criminal defense attorney here on your side that's going to fight aggressively for you when you're facing federal charges here in Fergus Hills. It may be your only chance of clearing your name before your life is changed forever.

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