What Rights Do Convicted Felons Lose in Illinois?

A felony conviction can have significant and long-lasting impacts on your fundamental rights and civil liberties.

Felons may permanently or temporarily lose the ability to vote, serve on juries, hold public office, own firearms, receive government benefits, and retain custody rights, depending on state laws.

Understanding the specific rights you could potentially lose — and the options available to restore certain privileges — is important.

Constitutional Rights Lost Upon Felony Conviction in Illinois

When you’re convicted of a felony in Illinois, you lose certain fundamental constitutional rights that most people take for granted, including the right to vote, bear arms, and serve on a jury.

Right to Vote

One of the most fundamental rights you lose when convicted of a felony in Illinois is the right to vote. While you’re incarcerated, you cannot cast a ballot in any election. However, once you are released, your voting rights are automatically restored. It’s important to re-register to vote after your rights are restored to ensure your voice is heard in future elections.

Right to Bear Arms (Second Amendment Rights)

If you’re convicted of a felony in Illinois, you lose your Second Amendment right to possess firearms under federal law. This is a lifetime ban, and it applies even after you’ve completed your sentence. The only way to have your firearm rights restored is through executive clemency or a pardon from the governor.

Right to Serve on a Jury

Felons are also disqualified from serving on a jury in Illinois. This right is lost upon conviction and is not automatically restored after completing your sentence. However, in some cases, you may be able to petition the court to have your jury duty rights restored.

Employment Rights Affected by Felony Conviction

When you’re a convicted felon, finding employment can be a daunting task. Many employers run background checks and may choose not to hire you based on your criminal record.

Certain professions, such as those in healthcare and education, may be restricted for felons. It’s important to know your rights and understand what employers can and cannot consider when making hiring decisions.

In addition to general employment challenges, felons may also face barriers when seeking professional licenses. Depending on the profession and the specific conviction, you may be denied a license to practice. It’s crucial to research the specific requirements for your desired occupation and take steps to demonstrate your rehabilitation.

Housing and Public Assistance Rights

Convicted felons may be denied access to public housing in Illinois. The specific rights and restrictions vary by local laws and the nature of your conviction. Some housing authorities may have policies that ban felons outright, while others may consider individual circumstances.

It’s important to be upfront about your criminal record when applying for housing and to understand your options.

A felony conviction can also impact your eligibility for certain welfare programs, such as food stamps. In some cases, you may lose access to these benefits entirely. However, Illinois does allow for the restoration of benefits after completing your sentence or through specific exemptions. It’s essential to research the requirements and work with a legal professional to understand your options.

Travel and Mobility Rights

As a convicted felon, you may face strict border controls and travel restrictions when attempting to leave the country. Some countries may deny entry to individuals with criminal records, even if the conviction occurred years ago.

Before making any international travel plans, it’s crucial to research the specific requirements of your destination country and consult with a legal professional.

If you’re on probation or parole, your mobility rights within the United States may also be limited. You may be required to obtain permission before traveling outside of your state or even your county. These restrictions vary depending on the specifics of your case and the terms of your supervision.

Restoration of Rights for Felons in Illinois

In Illinois, your voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of your sentence. This means that once you’re released from prison and have finished any required parole or probation, you can register to vote.

It’s important to note that you must re-register after your rights are restored, as your previous registration is invalidated by your conviction.

Firearm Rights Restoration

Unlike voting rights, firearm rights are not automatically restored for felons in Illinois. To regain your right to possess firearms, you must receive executive clemency or a pardon from the governor. This process can be complex and requires a thorough understanding of the legal requirements.

Expungement and Sealing of Criminal Records

In some cases, felons may be eligible to have their criminal records expunged or sealed. However, eligibility for expungement of felony convictions is limited in Illinois. Sealing your record, on the other hand, may be possible and can improve your chances of securing employment and housing. Our Illinois expungement lawyers can help you determine your eligibility.

How Rose Legal Services Can Help

At Rose Legal Services, we understand the challenges faced by convicted felons in Illinois. We’re here to provide guidance on your rights and restrictions, assist with the restoration of your rights, and represent you in expungement and sealing proceedings.

Our team of criminal defense attorneys has helped countless clients navigate the complex legal landscape and rebuild their lives after a felony conviction. We believe in second chances, and we’re committed to advocating for your rights every step of the way.

If you or a loved one is facing the consequences of a felony conviction in Illinois, contact us today. Together, we can work toward a brighter future and ensure that your rights are protected.

Author Bio

Scott Rose, an experienced criminal defense lawyer and founder of Rose Legal Services, has been practicing law for over 20 years. He is dedicated to representing clients facing criminal charges and providing legal representation on various cases, including DWI, misdemeanor, and felony cases.

After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law, he gained valuable experience working for a United States Senator and as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Chief Judge of a United States District Court. Throughout his legal career, W. Scott Rose has committed to providing high-quality legal representation to his clients, earning him a spot in the National Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

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