What Is the Definition of a Convicted Felon?

By Meaghan Ringwelski

A convicted felon is, by definition, someone who has been convicted of a felony. Under law, a felony is the most severe class of crime. Most people who are convicted of a felony spend time in prison or jail as part of their punishment under law. However, serving time incarcerated is not a mandatory characteristic of being a convicted felon.

Definition of a Felony

In the United States, the federal government considers a felony to be a crime deserving of a punishment of more than one year in prison. A felony is considered to be far more serious than a misdemeanor. A convicted felon has therefore been found guilty in a court of law of a felony, or a very serious crime.

Examples of Felonies

Many different serious crimes are classified as felonies. Some of the most extreme types of felonies involve severe bodily harm and may include murder, rape, aggravated assault and kidnapping. Other felonies may include tax evasion, espionage, treason, fraud and burglary.

History

Felony is a term that has its roots in English common law. Originally, a person who was convicted of a felony faced the punishment of having their property and possessions confiscated. Most countries in the world no longer use terms such as felony or misdemeanor in distinguishing or classifying types of crime; however, the United States is a major exception.

Effects

A person who has been convicted of a felony will usually have difficulties when seeking employment. Many employers perform background checks on potential employees; the presence of a felony often excludes a person from consideration. Also, a convicted felon must be forthcoming in denoting their history to potential employers, or may be disqualified from consideration.

Additional Consequences

Convicted felons face other consequences in addition to imprisonment and fines. In the United States, a person who has been convicted of a felony may not serve on a jury. Additionally, a convicted felon may not vote in elections even after being released from jail or prison. Unless a presidential pardon is received, a person is excluded from these two activities for the rest of his or her life.

About the Author

Meaghan Ringwelski is a professional freelance writer. She's been writing for more than five years and has contributed to many websites. Currently, Meaghan is a contributing editor for Dimensions Weekly and also ghost writes blogs for many regular clients.