When we talk to young clients, we often focus on how proactive representation can protect their future opportunities. Of course, this may mean shortening or avoiding time spent behind bars or on probation—something that’s top of mind for anyone facing criminal charges. But the consequences of a criminal conviction—especially a felony conviction—stretch long past the date you complete the terms of your sentence.

What rights do you lose after a felony conviction?

In Georgia, you lose certain privileges after a felony conviction, including:

  • The right to vote
  • The right to hold or run for office
  • The right to sit on a jury
  • The right to be a notary
  • The right to receive, possess or transport a firearm

After you’ve served your sentence (including completing any probation), your right to vote is automatically restored, though you do have to re-register. To have the rest of your rights restored, however, you first have to file an application for a pardon and restoration of rights with the state.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles accepts applications for pardons and for the restoration of civil and political rights. Pardons are for exceptional circumstances only. With them, the board extends official forgiveness, which can potentially help you to move forward in a chosen career or educational track while still having a criminal record.

A restoration of civil and political rights is much more common. However, restoring your rights to handle firearms takes a separate application and additional review.

How do you apply for the restoration of civil and political rights?

Two years after your sentence is complete, you’re eligible to apply for the restoration of civil and political rights, provided you haven’t had any criminal involvement since. If your application is granted, your rights are restored, though you still must disclose your conviction if you’re asked about it by an employer.

The restoration of firearm rights is a separate process. To apply, you must be five years out from the completion of your sentence and your offense cannot have involved a firearm. You’ll also need three letters of reference from non-family members, and you’ll need to complete an interview with a board staff member.

In either case, the application process requires documenting your criminal history and your current life—financially, personally and employment-wise. The board typically takes 6-9 months to process applications.

A criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the process, as well as work to have your records restricted.

If you’re trying to restore your rights after serving a felony sentence, give us a call

While it doesn’t offer a clean slate after a felony conviction, the restoration of rights does allow you to move on with some aspects of your life and restore many of your rights. Give us a call at 770-720-6336 to schedule an appointment to discuss your options.