How Do You Restore Your Rights After You've Been to Prison?

How Do You Restore Your Rights After You’ve Been to Prison?

If you get convicted of a felony, you may lose some of your civil rights. But after you leave prison, you may be able to restore some of those rights. Whether you can or not depends on a few things. Where you live and what your charge was, plays a major role in your ability to restore your rights.

Which rights do you lose when you go to prison?

Which rights you lose when you are convicted of a felony depends on what your charge was. But most people convicted of felonies can expect to lose several rights.

  • Voting.
  • Serving on a jury.
  • Traveling out of state or out of the country.
  • Possessing a firearm.
  • Working for certain organizations or in certain jobs.
  • Holding public office.

Note that some states never take away some rights. For example, in Maine, even incarcerated people can vote. Different states have different laws about when people lose their right to vote. But online resources can help clear this up about your state.

Can you restore your rights after you’ve been to prison?

You can restore some of your rights after you leave prison. But some of them will be gone forever unless you petition the government to get them back. For example, in Kentucky, nobody with a felony conviction gets the right to vote back unless the governor approves.

Different states have different rules about restoring people’s rights. Some states restore some rights automatically. This is the case with voting rights in Oregon. But in Iowa, for example, you lose that right forever once you are convicted of a felony. In states like this, you need to make a request to the government to get them back. This is true of your right to vote in Mississippi.

Which rights can be restored after prison?

Which rights can be restored after you leave prison again depends greatly on the state. But the charge you were convicted of also plays an important role.

For example, if you commit a felony with a firearm or other weapon, you won’t ever be able to get your gun rights back. But in most cases, you can get your right to travel to other states back as soon as you complete your sentence.

Sometimes, there can be a conflict between state and federal rights. You may be able to get your gun rights back in Oregon, but in many cases, federal law still prohibits you from possessing one. An attorney can help you make sense of these issues.

It is difficult to restore gun rights after you've been to prison for a felony.
Image courtesy of Bermix Studio via Unsplash.

How do you restore your rights after you get released?

Different states have different processes for restoring your rights after you leave prison. In some states, such as Florida, you need to apply to have your voting rights restored. Other states will restore rights such as voting and travel automatically.

But one way to restore your rights in any situation is by getting your record expunged. Once your record is expunged, you will no longer officially have a felony on your public record. But this won’t necessarily restore all of your rights. That’s because in some places, government officials will have access to your full record, including charges that got expunged. So while an employer might not see the charge, the official who issues gun permits can in some states. People with violent felonies won’t be able to get their gun rights back. But an expungement can restore rights such as the right to work at certain jobs or travel freely.

The Takeaway:

You may be able to restore some of your rights after you’ve been to prison. But it is complicated. Different states have different laws. It is easier to restore your rights in some states than in others. Some states won’t let you restore some of your rights at all. Expunging your record can help you restore some of your rights all at once.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave your comment
Comment
Name
Email

Legal Disclaimer: How to Justice cannot provide legal advice, representation, referrals, research or guidance. Nothing on this page is intended to or may be relied on as legal advice. If you or a loved one believe you need legal advice, you should contact an attorney. For our full terms and conditions, including our disclaimers and fair use policy, please visit our Terms of Use.