By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
There is no such thing as a small felony.
A felony charge or conviction tells everyone not to hire you, rent to you, or befriend you.
The textbook consequences of felony convictions and deferred adjudications are the punishment ranges for such offenses which include fine and jail time. But felonies act as trap doors due to the mountains of the collateral civil statutes which gut your rights.
Specific examples of collateral consequences of felonies are their impact on professional licensing. The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners must suspend licenses for felony convictions. The State Bar of Texas disbars attorneys convicted of felonies, and the Texas Department of Insurance may not issue a certificate of authority to act as an insurer if a corporate officer, or member of the board of directors has been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude or breach of fiduciary duty. There are many Texas occupational statutes which affect your ability to make a living as a felon for large and small jobs alike.
Other examples include limitations on an individuals ability to adopt or become foster parents especially in cases involving child abuse or neglect or spousal abuse. In a divorce situation, a parent who is a felon may be denied custody.
Yet other examples are a felons ability to own firearms (which is prohibited by federal law). Felons cannot sit on juries. Convicted felons cannot act as executors of estates in probate proceedings. Felons can’t vote. Many countries won’t allow felons to emigrate or even visit. The list is endless. Not only that, but the state of Texas and the federal government in some situations reserve the rights to blur the lines between a felony conviction and deferred adjudication (meaning some laws say words to the effect, “for the purposes of this statute, deferred adjudication shall be treated as a final conviction.”)
The bottom line is this — felonies are bad news. The collateral damage of felonies are well above and beyond just the minimum and maximum jail or prison sentence ranges. It is crucial that you address any and all specific concerns about felony charges with your attorney.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice nor does it create an attorney client relationship. For specific legal advice, you should consult an attorney.