What Is a Felony Offender?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A felony offender is a person who has been convicted of a felony crime. Felony offenders may be listed as such for life, since the nature of felony crimes is quite serious. Certain rights and privileges may be denied to any person convicted of a felony, though these restrictions may depend on the crime committed.

A conviction for first degree or capital murder, a felony, could lead to the death penalty.
A conviction for first degree or capital murder, a felony, could lead to the death penalty.

Felony offenses are typically considered the most serious type of crime in a criminal code. Sentences for felony offenders can be quite extensive, and may include heavy fines, long jail sentences, and even capital punishment. Even if a felony offender completes his or her sentence and returns to society, there may be continued restrictions on life. It is not uncommon for felony offenders to be placed on parole following a jail sentence, so that law enforcement can keep an eye on their future activities.

Sentences for felony offenders often include long jail sentences.
Sentences for felony offenders often include long jail sentences.

Once a person is deemed a felony offender, he or she may be subject to different rules than other citizens. In addition to parole requirements, felons may not be able to vote, hold certain jobs, or leave a given area. Most employers require job applicants to list any felony convictions, which can make finding a job quite difficult. If a felon has been convicted of a sexual offense, such as rape or molestation, he or she may also not be allowed to be around children or be permitted to live within a certain distance from primary schools or playgrounds.

Anyone accused of automobile theft who threatened or harmed the vehicle's owner or passengers will nearly always face felony charges.
Anyone accused of automobile theft who threatened or harmed the vehicle's owner or passengers will nearly always face felony charges.

The sentences imposed on a felony offender can vary immensely depending on the criminal history of the defendant, the nature of the crime, and any set requirements for sentencing. Generally, first time offenders may receive lighter sentences than repeat offenders, but this may also depend on the circumstances of the crime. Extremely violent crimes or those considered abhorrent by society may warrant execution or lifetime in a maximum-security prison, while non-violent felonies may result in short prison terms, or even fines.

Assault is a 3rd degree felony.
Assault is a 3rd degree felony.

Though an area of social justice with few sympathizers, former offenders and social workers often stress the difficulties a felony offender will face when attempting to re-integrate into society following a completed sentence. It may be difficult for past offenders to make friends, find work, or even obtain housing, which can lead to an increased likelihood of future criminal activities. Some social and political figures stress the importance of creating government or community programs that aim to reduce crime by helping freed offenders transition to a law-abiding, healthy lifestyle.

Driving under the influence may be classified as a 3rd degree felony.
Driving under the influence may be classified as a 3rd degree felony.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


I am ever so grateful that I can look up sex offenders’ residential addresses online!

It has been a huge help to me and my family as we are working towards a pretty big relocation.

We’re going from coastal North Carolina to the Tennessee mountains, which has made things a little difficult.

We can’t just run around viewing homes and the like. But, there are some things that we can do.

I have taken to searching for real estate in our price range online. Each time I find a potential property, I take note of it. Then I head over to the Tennessee’s felony offender lookup.

All I have to do is input the address of the home I’m looking at to see if there are any felons living nearby. I think this is great since I can’t just run out and see if it looks like a good neighborhood or not!


I must say that I probably have a little different view of the whole felon/prison system since my husband is a correctional officer at a maximum security prison. I can tell you that he literally risks his life each day that he goes to work.

There are reasons why felons have so many restrictions once they leave the prison system; the biggest of these is public safety.

I’ve always found it hard to believe how people who know very little personally of hardcore criminals push relentlessly to ‘reintegrate them into society.’ Perhaps speaking with the folks who have been harmed by felons after their reintegration would slow them down.

No offense, but you can’t reintegrate people who don’t want to be reintegrated. My husband isn’t allowed to talk about the prisoners he works with, but he can let his views be known about these kinds of debates.

From a man who lives with them twelve hours a day at the time, he can attest that most of these felons are just as dangerous when they leave as when they went in. Failure as a society or not, it’s a statistical certainty. It's public record.

We all have to answer for the choices we make daily for the rest of our lives. These guys are no different – they just make much worse choices with far greater consequences.


I think it's really important to help felony offenders transition back into society after they serve out their prison sentence. If we can help them reintegrate, I think that it would reduce the likelihood of them committing more crimes.

I think one way to do this would be to provide jobs. So many employers won't hire a felon. So then they can't get work! When they can't get work, they revert back to committing crimes. Yes, that is a choice, but I think we need to take some responsibility as a society for this problem.


@Monika - I disagree. We're talking about felons here, not just someone who shop lifted. I definitely think they should still be under supervision after they finish their prison term. For a lot of these people, there is a pretty high chance they'll re-offend.

Sorry if this seems harsh, but I care more about the safety of innocent people than the right of the "poor" felony offenders. I definitely think that sex offenders should be listed publicly, and felons shouldn't be able to hold certain jobs. They've already shown that they are criminals with no regard for the law. Who knows what they'll do next?


I think it's really unfair that felony offenders have so many restrictions placed on them after they serve out their prison sentences. It seems like after they have done their time, they should be able to reintegrate into society without so much stigma. They've already been punished, so continuing to punish them just seems to belabor the point.

I also think it's very unfair to take away their right to vote. I feel like the right to vote is a very integral part of being an American. To take that away from someone is almost like saying they are less than human!

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