In South Carolina, a felony conviction can impact an individual’s life far beyond any sentence served. It can, for example, also affect their legal rights, social opportunities and economic prospects well into the future.
Understanding potential collateral consequences of a conviction is crucial, especially for those navigating the legal system or supporting someone who is.
One of the significant consequences of a felony conviction in South Carolina is a restriction on firearm ownership. Under both federal and state law, individuals convicted of a felony are generally prohibited from owning, possessing or purchasing firearms. This prohibition is in place regardless of the nature of the felony, whether violent or non-violent.
In South Carolina, individuals serving a sentence for a felony conviction, including probation or parole, aren’t eligible to vote. This lasts for their entire sentence, including any period of probation or parole. Individuals can re-register to vote once the sentence is fully served, including completing probation or parole.
Many employers hesitate to hire individuals with a criminal record, particularly a felony conviction. This challenge is often faced in both the private and public sectors. Occupations that require licensing or certification may be challenging to enter, as many licensing boards have regulations that may bar individuals with felony convictions.
Many landlords conduct background checks and may be reluctant or refuse to rent to individuals with a criminal record. Additionally, certain felonies may lead to ineligibility for public housing assistance. This can lead to homelessness or a dependence on others to find a place to live.
Individuals with a criminal record often face societal judgment and discrimination. This stigma can affect relationships with family, friends, and community members. It can also result in psychological impacts, including feelings of shame and a diminished sense of self-worth.
Anyone who’s facing criminal charges must ensure they factor in the collateral consequences as they’re planning their defense strategy. Seeking personalized legal guidance can be beneficial in this regard.