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What a Criminal Record Means for Your Future in Florida

Although Florida's juvenile justice system is designed to rehabilitate offenders rather than excessively punish them, even a juvenile record can have long-lasting impacts on your future. If you were charged and convicted as an adult with a crime, you could face even more serious consequences. 

If you have been charged with a crime in Palm Beach County, Florida, as a juvenile or as an adult, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney from Noble Law to protect your future.

Loss of Driver's License

Some criminal convictions can result in the suspension or revocation of your driver's license. Without reliable transportation, you may struggle to get to your job or your college classes.

In Florida, your driver's license is suspended if you fail to comply with or appear at a Traffic Summons; fail to pay fines; fail to complete driver improvement school; or if the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles determines that are physically or mentally incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. If you are convicted of a non-DUI traffic violation that results in severe injury or death, your driver's license will be suspended for three months to one year. Fraudulently obtaining a driver's license also results in suspension.

If you have three or more specified criminal convictions or traffic offenses within a five-year period, the court could determine that you are a Habitual Traffic Offender and revoke your driver's license for five years. These convictions include:

  • DUI;
  • voluntary or involuntary manslaughter;
  • felonies resulting from the use of a motor vehicle;
  • driving while your license is suspended or revoked;
  • failing to stop and render aid at a motor vehicle crash; and
  • driving a commercial vehicle while disqualified to do so. 

You may also be labeled a Habitual Traffic Offender if you have 15 moving violation convictions within five years.

Finding Employment in Florida

Finding employment that pays a livable wage is essential for securing your future. A criminal record impacts your ability to find a job. Courts and police departments keep extensive records about crimes, and many employers conduct background searches before making you a job offer.

Even if you committed a crime as a juvenile, the employer may not understand the difference between juvenile and adult offenses, or may not care.

Also, if your employment requires a professional license, you could lose that license if you are convicted of a crime. Professions that require a license include:

  • Law
  • Accounting
  • Teaching
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Dentistry
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Engineering
  • Architecture.

Housing in Florida

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing providers from discriminating against tenants based on:

  • race
  • color
  • sex
  • religion
  • national origin
  • disability
  • familial status.

A criminal record, however, is not a protected class, so both public housing providers and private landlords can refuse to rent to you based on your criminal record. A violent felony is more likely to impact your ability to find housing than white-collar criminal convictions.

HUD prohibits housing providers from making blanket statements that they will not rent or sell to anyone with a felony conviction. The housing provider must show that conduct addressed in the conviction would negatively affect the health or safety of the community if it rented or sold the property to someone based on a criminal record. Housing providers, on the other hand, are allowed to blindly deny housing to anyone convicted of manufacturing or selling drugs.

Housing providers cannot deny housing to you based on your arrest record alone. An arrest record is separate from a criminal conviction. You may be arrested for a crime, but charges may be dropped or you may be found not guilty.

Federal law allows housing providers to deny housing to anyone subject to lifetime sex offender registration and anyone convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine on public housing property. This only applies to people applying for housing. If you are already a public housing tenant, you may not be evicted for either of these convictions.

College Education in Palm Beach County

Many high school students and young adults plan on attending college, but a criminal conviction can affect your ability to get accepted to the college of your choice. A juvenile conviction is not automatic grounds for rejection at many colleges, however, most will look at the details of the crime and make an admission decision based on your unique situation.

A criminal record can mean that you no longer qualify for federal financial aid if the criminal conviction is drug-related or if you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense.

If you commit a crime while you are enrolled as a college student, the college may suspend or expel you, based on the nature of the crime. If the crime occurs on campus or college-controlled property, you may have to face a college disciplinary board in addition to fighting your criminal charges in court. You may lose your financial aid.

If you are studying a field that will require you to have a license to practice after your graduation, you may have to change your course of study. Some felony convictions prevent you from obtaining a professional license.

Joining the Armed Forces

All branches of the armed forces in the United States require those entering to be of good moral character. This is to minimize the chances that new recruits will become security risks or disciplinary problems. You cannot join the armed forces if you:

  • are under any sort of judicial restraint, like probation or parole; or
  • have a significant criminal history, including crimes related to drugs, sex offenses, domestic violence, or other crimes of a violent nature.

A felony conviction is not an automatic disqualification from joining the armed forces. You can request a waiver for enlistment, but approval is not guaranteed. The armed forces consider your ability to successfully reenter civilian life after the end of probation or parole supervision. You will need several letters of recommendation from community leaders stating that you are of good character and suitable for enlistment.

You are required to disclose all convictions on your enlistment and security clearance paperwork. Failing to honestly disclose the same is a felony offense.

Child Custody in Florida

If you have children, a criminal record can affect your child custody arrangement, especially if the convictions are recent.

When determining child custody arrangements, the court considers the best interests of the child, including if your criminal history could affect the child's safety or well-being.

Domestic violence or child abuse convictions can affect your child custody arrangement, even if the child was not the victim. 

Drug possession or manufacturing convictions may lead the court to believe that you have a drug addiction problem, which could affect the child's safety. Similarly, numerous DUI convictions may indicate an alcohol abuse problem and lead the court to question whether your child is safe in the car with you.

Some felony convictions may cause you to lose your parental rights, especially if the court determines that you are a violent career criminal or a sexual predator.  Sexually abusing or committing aggravated child abuse against your child will result in the loss of your parental rights as will first- or second-degree murder; conspiring or hiring someone to murder the other parent, or committing sexual battery that qualifies as a first-degree felony. 

Non-violent felony convictions will have less impact on your child custody arrangement. Old convictions may show the court that you have made an effort to reform your life.

If you do not have a biological child but want to become a foster parent or adopt a child, a criminal conviction can affect your ability to qualify. To become a foster or adoptive parent, you will have to go through an in-depth home study and background check, and the social worker will consider your criminal history. Violent crimes will impact your ability to become a foster or adoptive parent more than non-violent crimes. Some crimes are automatic disqualifiers, including any crimes against children; domestic violence; felony assault; and drug-related offenses.

Owning a Firearm in Palm Beach County

Florida law prohibits people convicted of felonies from possessing firearms until they have their firearm authority restored by the state's Clemency Board. The only exception is owning an antique firearm manufactured before 1918.  Florida law does not prohibit felons from hunting with crossbows, bows, or airguns during the designated hunting season as long as they have the proper hunting license.

To get your firearm authority restored by the state, you must wait eight years from the date your sentence expires or your supervision ends. You cannot apply to have your firearm authority restored if you were convicted in a Federal or out-of-state court. If you were convicted in Federal court, you can regain your right to own firearms with a Presidential Pardon or a Relief of Disability from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

If you have a felony conviction, use caution if you are in locations where firearms are present. You could be considered in constructive possession of the firearm, which occurs when you know the firearm is present and you are in a physical position to exert control over that firearm.

Voting in Florida

If you are convicted of a felony, you cannot vote in Florida until you complete your sentence unless you are convicted of one of four crimes:

  1. murder
  2. sexual battery
  3. treason
  4. voting fraud.

These four offenses carry a lifetime voting ban.


If you are an immigrant in the United States with a visa or a green card, a criminal record can affect your ability to adjust your immigration status. In some cases, a criminal conviction could lead to your removal from the country or exclude you from re-entry. These crimes include:

  • Smuggling
  • Crimes of moral turpitude
  • Aggravated felonies
  • High-speed flight
  • Failure to register as a sex offender
  • Convictions relating to controlled substances
  • Convictions relating to firearms
  • Espionage
  • Sabotage
  • Treason and sedition
  • Stalking
  • Violation of a Protection Order
  • Crimes against children
  • Domestic violence
  • Trafficking
  • Document fraud
  • Terrorist activities.

Even if you are not removed from the United States after being convicted of a crime, you still may not be allowed to become a naturalized citizen if you have a felony conviction.

Foreign Travel

Most felony convictions will not prevent you from getting a passport unless the conviction was for international drug trafficking. In some cases, the U.S. Secretary of State will disqualify you from obtaining a passport if you have a misdemeanor state or Federal drug charge conviction. If your felony conviction leads the Secretary of State's office to believe that you are a danger to others overseas or that you are a flight risk, you will not be issued a passport.

Although many countries will allow a U.S. citizen to enter with just their passport, some countries require a visa, and four will not issue a visa to a person with some felony convictions –Australia, Japan, Fiji, and China.

Additionally, Canada can deny entry to anyone with a criminal history, and criminally inadmissible offenses include:

  • driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • committing a crime that was punishable by 10 or more years in prison under Canadian law; or
  • possessing any conviction related to organized crime.

Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida

A misdemeanor or felony criminal conviction can have long-lasting consequences on your life, whether you are charged as a juvenile or an adult. Just because you are charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty. Experienced criminal defense attorney Jacob Noble can aggressively fight for you, presenting the best defense in front of a judge or jury. Your future is at stake, and a conviction can change the course of your life. 

If you or your child has been charged with a crime in Palm Beach County, Florida, call Noble Law today at (561) 847-7095 or contact us online.

Aggressive. Prepared. Tenacious.

These invaluable qualities are what distinguishes Jacob Noble from his peers, and what leaves many of his clients feeling satisfied with their case results. For more information about how he can help you, don't hesitate to contact Noble Law today at (561) 847-7095.