Being a lawyer is a noble profession, but what happens when a lawyer gets convicted of a felony? This situation is not only embarrassing but also affects the lawyer’s ability to practice law. In this article, we will discuss what happens when a lawyer is convicted of a felony, ways to solve the problem, and success stories of lawyers who have overcome this challenge.
The Problem of Being a Lawyer with a Felony
When a lawyer is convicted of a felony, it can have severe consequences on their career. Felony convictions can lead to disbarment, which means the lawyer cannot practice law anymore. Also, being a convicted felon can make it difficult for the lawyer to find a job or maintain their current job. Employers may be hesitant to hire someone with a criminal record, especially for jobs that require a high level of trust, such as a lawyer.
Solving the Problem
If you are a lawyer with a felony, there are ways to fix the problem. The first step is to hire a criminal defense attorney who can help you appeal your case. A good criminal defense attorney can help you reduce your sentence or get your conviction overturned. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can contact a legal aid organization for assistance.
Another way to solve the problem is to apply for a pardon or record expungement. A pardon is an official forgiveness of a crime, and it can help you restore some of your rights, such as the right to vote or own a firearm. Record expungement is the process of sealing or destroying criminal records, which means that your felony conviction will not show up on background checks.
Finally, you can try to find a job that does not require a law license. There are many jobs in the legal field, such as legal secretaries, paralegals, or legal consultants, that do not require a law license. You can also consider starting your law firm or working as a legal freelancer.
What is a Felony?
A felony is a serious crime that is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death. Examples of felonies include murder, rape, robbery, and drug trafficking.
What are the Consequences of a Felony Conviction?
The consequences of a felony conviction depend on the severity of the crime and the state where the crime was committed. Generally, a felony conviction can lead to imprisonment, fines, probation, community service, and loss of certain rights, such as the right to vote or possess a firearm. In some cases, a felony conviction can also lead to deportation if you are not a US citizen.
What is Disbarment?
Disbarment is the process of revoking a lawyer’s license to practice law. Disbarment can happen for several reasons, such as a felony conviction, ethical violations, or incompetence. When a lawyer is disbarred, they cannot practice law anymore and may be prohibited from working in any job that requires a law license.
Can a Felon Become a Lawyer?
Yes, a felon can become a lawyer, but it depends on the state where they want to practice law. Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding the admission of lawyers. Generally, a felony conviction can make it difficult to pass the character and fitness test, which is a requirement for becoming a lawyer.
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record?
The length of time a felony stays on your record depends on the state where the crime was committed. In some states, a felony conviction stays on your record for life, while in other states, it can be expunged after a certain number of years. Generally, the more serious the crime, the longer it stays on your record.
How Can a Lawyer with a Felony Regain their License?
A lawyer with a felony conviction can regain their license by petitioning the state bar association. The process for reinstatement varies by state, but generally, the lawyer must show that they have been rehabilitated and are fit to practice law. The lawyer may also need to complete continuing legal education courses and pass a character and fitness test.
One example of a successful lawyer with a felony is Mark Geragos. Geragos is a prominent criminal defense attorney who has represented high-profile clients such as Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, and Winona Ryder. In 1998, Geragos was convicted of a felony for money laundering, but he was able to continue practicing law and built a successful career. Geragos has stated that his felony conviction has made him a better lawyer because he can relate to his clients who are going through similar situations.
Can a Lawyer with a Felony Practice Law?
A lawyer with a felony may be able to practice law, but it depends on the state where they want to practice and the severity of the crime. Some states may allow felons to practice law if they have been rehabilitated and can pass the character and fitness test.
Can a Felon Work in the Legal Field?
Yes, a felon can work in the legal field, but it depends on the job and the employer’s policies. Some jobs in the legal field, such as legal secretaries, paralegals, or legal consultants, do not require a law license, so a felony conviction may not be a barrier. However, some employers may be hesitant to hire someone with a criminal record, especially for jobs that require a high level of trust.
What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
A felony is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor. Felonies are punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death, while misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment for less than one year or by fines. Examples of misdemeanors include traffic violations, disorderly conduct, and petty theft.
What is the Character and Fitness Test?
The character and fitness test is a requirement for becoming a lawyer. The test evaluates the applicant’s moral character, honesty, trustworthiness, and professionalism. The test may include a background check, interviews with the applicant’s references, and a review of the applicant’s criminal history.
Can a Felon Vote?
It depends on the state where the felon resides. Some states allow felons to vote, while others prohibit felons from voting. In some states, felons can vote after they have completed their sentence, including probation and parole.
Can a Felon Own a Firearm?
A convicted felon cannot own a firearm, according to federal law. The prohibition is permanent, unless the felon obtains a pardon or has their record expunged. Some states may also have additional restrictions on felons owning firearms.
If you are a lawyer with a felony, here are some tips to help you overcome the challenge:
- Hire a criminal defense attorney to help you appeal your case.
- Apply for a pardon or record expungement.
- Consider working in the legal field in a job that does not require a law license.
- Start your law firm or work as a legal freelancer.
- Join a support group for felons or lawyers with a criminal record.
Being a lawyer with a felony is a difficult situation, but it is not impossible to overcome. By hiring a criminal defense attorney, applying for a pardon or record expungement, and finding a job in the legal field, a lawyer with a felony can still have a successful career. It takes time, effort, and perseverance, but it is possible to rebuild your life and your career after a felony conviction.