Being convicted of a felony-level crime is life changing. It impacts almost every aspect of your life, and most people feel the effects of their conviction forever. Felony convictions can impact your professional life, your social life, and even where you live depending on the crime you are convicted for. One aspect of life that is changed by a felony conviction is the right to vote. The right to vote in local, state, and federal elections to make your voice heard is intrinsic to American life for many people, but being convicted of a felony impacts that right.
What is a Felony, Exactly?
In the state of Wisconsin, a felony is a crime for which the accused party could be sentenced to one or more years in prison. Felonies can also come with fees, in addition to or instead of prison time. Crimes are classified in three different ways, those ways being citations, misdemeanors, and felonies. Felonies are reserved for the most severe crimes. A few examples of crimes that are tried as felonies in Wisconsin are:
- Driving intoxicated
Wisconsin separates felonies into different classes, ranked by severity. The classes begin with the letter A and end with I, Class A felonies being the most severe and Class I felonies being the least severe. Here are the classes with their potential sentences and some examples of crimes that could land you with a conviction in each respective class:
- Class A Felony: Class A Felonies come with a maximum prison sentence of life in prison. These crimes are the most serious, so the sentencing is the most serious to match.
- Class B Felony: Class B Felonies come with sentences of up to 60 years in prison, however, if you have a prior misdemeanor conviction the sentence can increase by 2 years. If you have a prior felony conviction, it can increase by 6 years. An example of a Class B Felony in Wisconsin is 1st degree reckless homicide.
- Class C Felony: Sentencing for these felonies can include a fine worth no more than $100,000 and a prison sentence of up to 40 years. Kidnapping and robbery are examples of crimes that can warrant a Class C felony conviction.
- Class D Felony: Felonies in Class D can come with penalties including a fine of up to $100,000 and up to 25 years in prison. An example of a Class D felony would be intoxicated vehicular homicide.
- Class E Felony: For felonies in Class E, penalties can include a fine of up to $50,000 and a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years. Burglary and robbery are examples of crimes that warrant a Class E felony conviction.
- Class F Felony: Class F felonies come with a fine of up to $25,000 and/or a prison sentence of no more than 12 and a half years. Stalking is an example of a Class F felony in Wisconsin.
- Class G Felony: The penalty for a Class G felony could include a fine of up to $25,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Embezzlement and negligent homicide are crimes that could result in a Class G felony conviction.
- Class H Felony: A Class H felony is punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Property theft between $5,000-$10,000 is an example of a Class H felony.
- Class I Felony: These felonies are punishable by up to 3 and a half years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Arson is an example.
How Felonies Impact Your Voting Rights
Unfortunately, convicted felons lose many rights, and this has been a hotly contested policy because some people believe the punishment outweighs the crime in certain circumstances. Federally, convicted felons cannot serve on a jury, apply for or receive grants, live in public housing, or receive Social Security assistance or food stamps.
In the United States, the right to vote is a fundamental right for most people. It allows citizens to have a voice in who runs the city, state, and federal governments and makes the laws we all must follow. Voting allows people to provide the government with an idea of the direction they would like to see the country head in politically. Felony convictions have an impact on voting rights.
In the state of Wisconsin, felons cannot vote while they are serving their sentence for the felony or felonies in question. This includes jail time, parole, probation, and extended supervision. All of these requirements, if they apply to your situation, must be completed before a person convicted of a felony has their right to vote restored. Unfortunately, many felons end up on probation or extended supervision for life, and never have their right to vote restored.
Overall, the United States is not united on the issue of voting rights for people convicted of felonies. Some states do not have any restrictions on them voting, and some states only require the completion of a prison sentence for voting rights to be reinstated. Wisconsin is one of 16 states that has the strictest restrictions on people convicted of felonies when it comes to voting.
What Other Restrictions Are People Convicted of Felonies Subject To?
Depending on the felony crime in question, convicted felons can find themselves dealing with the repercussions for years and even for the rest of their lives. Felonies are the most serious crimes one can be convicted of, so it comes as no surprise that the consequences are severe. Here are some changes felons can expect, depending on their crime:
- Difficulties getting employment in certain fields, such as law enforcement or childcare
- Difficulties purchasing and legally owning firearms
- Difficulties obtaining visas and entering certain countries
- No eligibility to serve on a jury
Contact an Attorney Today
If you have been convicted of a felony and believe you are being kept from voting unfairly, contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella today. Attorney Cherella has over 20 years of experience litigating criminal cases and understands the importance of treating each client with respect regarding their situation. He keeps a small client base and gives each person he works with the time and energy they deserve. Contact him today at (414) 882-8382 or via his contact page.