Being convicted of a felony is a serious matter. In addition to the immediate loss of liberty in the form of going to prison, felons lose their rights to vote and own a firearm. If the sentence involves probation, felons also surrender other basic liberties as well. In Texas, as in other states, it takes time to get these civil liberties back.
Felonies are classes of especially serious crimes. These individuals usually serve prison sentences of over a year. Unlike individuals convicted of misdemeanors, felons have shown the willingness to commit crimes that can cause significant harm to society. This harm does not have to be physical, as not all felony offenses are violent in nature. However, whether the individual was guilty of hurting people or defrauding them, the judicial system imposes severe sanctions on the individual.
If a felon is paroled from prison, he only has the civil rights accorded to him by the terms of his parole agreement. Generally these terms are quite restrictive and can include check-in times with a parole officer and curfews. The parole officer may be given the right to enter the felon's home at any time, announced or otherwise. These terms will continue for as long as the parole continues, and similar terms can last for the duration of any probation that was part of the felon's sentence or parole agreement. Once parole and probation are over, the felon will have most of his civil rights restored.
Generally, felons are not permitted to vote. This civil right can be restored in Texas if a felon completes his prison sentence and parole and probationary periods with good behavior. The felon will be able to vote after two years from the day these sentences end.
Gun ownership in Texas is a right that can be restored to felons only after an extended period of time. Because owning a gun makes it easier for a criminal to commit criminal acts, Texas imposes a period of five years after a felon is released from any form of supervision or incarceration before they are eligible to possess a gun again.
Micah McDunnigan has been writing on politics and technology since 2007. He has written technology pieces and political op-eds for a variety of student organizations and blogs. McDunnigan earned a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of California, Davis.