This document highlights only the most frequently asked questions regarding the consequences that are imposed by federal and state law upon conviction of a felony offense. Because laws are revised frequently, readers are cautioned that the information may be outdated and they should consult with the appropriate agency for more current information.
I. Right to vote
The United States Constitution provides that qualifications for voting in federal elections are determined by state law. Therefore, the effect of a federal felony conviction upon the right to vote is determined by the law of the state in which the felon seeks to vote, and thus varies from state to state.
In past years, Texas law specified that citizens convicted of a felony offense were ineligible to vote in the State of Texas until two years after full discharge of their sentence.
Effective September 1, 1997, the legislature restored voting rights to felons convicted in Texas once a person fully discharges the felony sentence, including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completes a period of probation ordered by any court. See Texas Election Code, 11.002.
Before voting in local, state, or federal elections, a person must meet the minimum qualifications such as being a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age, and mentally competent. A person must register to vote in the county of residence and may obtain further information from the Registrar of Voters Office in that county or from the Elections Division of the Secretary of State's Office.
II. Right to serve on a federal jury
Conviction in federal or state court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year disqualifies an individual from serving on a federal grand or petit jury if “his civil rights have not been restored.” The only method currently provided by federal law to restore civil rights is a pardon.
Texas bars convicted felons from serving on juries.
III. Right to hold federal office or employment
The United States Constitution does not prohibit felons from holding elected federal office. However, various federal statutes provide that a conviction may result in the loss of or ineligibility for office.
Texas law prohibits any person convicted of a felony from being a candidate for public office or holding any public office position. A full pardon restores eligibility to run for office.
IV. Right to own a firearm
The Gun Control Act of 1968 states a convicted felon cannot receive, transport, own or possess any type of firearm, ammunition, or explosive material.
The Supreme Court held that federal felons remain subject to the federal firearms disability until their civil rights are restored through a federal procedure