What Happens When You’re Convicted of a Felony in North Carolina?

Hidden Consequences of a Criminal Record:  What Happens When Convicted of a Felony?  Is One Forever Branded a Criminal?

The etymology of the word “felon” is to some extent uncertain.  In Latin, fel is thought be associated with gall or poison.  Old French defines felon as an evil-doer, scoundrel, traitor, rebel, oath-breaker, and the Devil.

In early English law, a felony could be a crime punishable by death or mutilation and forfeiture of lands and goods.

Certain criminal convictions resulted in brand marks being burned in open court, the purposes of which included physical pain as a retributive aspect of punishment, public humiliation, and what was meant to serve as a readily apparent, indelible criminal record.  

Branding as a form of adjudication indicated clearly, with life-altering permanent effect, the intended reduction in community status.  Criminal offenders were thereby demeaned.  Disfiguring with hot iron marked the convicted much like goods or animals of the time.

In certain cultures, brands literally emblazoned inferior social status, with the resultant economic ill-effects, and ensured those marked were forever treated as the functional equivalent of chattel, a personal possession, or something to be owned.

Indeed, French criminals were emblazoned with a fleurdelis, representing they were the possession of the Crown. . .the government of the time.

In French Louisiana, pursuant in part to the Code Noir, the fleur-de-lis as a brand embodied savagery and further dehumanization.

English Branding Marks included letter coding, which was traditionally burned onto the left thumb and, at times, even the forehead:

B  – Blasphemeny
F  – Fraymaker or Felon
M  -Manslaughter or Murderer
P  – Perjurer
R  -Rogue
S  -Slave
SL  -Seditious Libeller
SS – Sower of Sedition
T   – Thief
D   -Deserter

The long-term consequences of Felonies include more than just the potential for lengthy terms in Prison, Probation, Fines, and Cost of Court – Bill Powers 

What is a Felony in North Carolina?


Felony Definition in North Carolina 2016


See More:  North Carolina Felony Classification


Common Law Definition


Traditional Definition of a Felony:


Indelible Criminal Record

Sentencing for Felony Charges in North Carolina can include, but is not limited to:

  • Incarceration
  • Probation
  • Fines
  • Costs of Court
  • Supervision Fees
  • Restitution
  • Community Service
  • Assessment and Treatment





Rights as a Citizen

The North Carolina Board of Elections takes the position:  If you are convicted of a felony in North Carolina, you temporarily lose your citizenship rights, including your right to vote.

While many rights are indeed suspended upon conviction of a Felony in North Carolina, one is still a Citizen of the United States of America** and may again have some of those rights restored.  (Two notable exceptions in North Carolina are the right to possess firearms and the ability to seek elected office as a Sheriff.)

**United States Born Citizens may not have citizenship revoked against their will.  It is possible for naturalized U.S. citizens to lose or have citizenship stripped through “denaturalization.”

Loss of Citizenship Rights:

Disqualification to Vote –  No person adjudged guilty of a felony against this State or the United States, or adjudged guilty of a felony in another state that also would be a felony if it had been committed in this State, shall be permitted to vote unless that person shall be first restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law – N.C. Const. art. VI, sec. 2(3)


Disqualifications for Public Office –  [A]ny person who has been adjudged guilty of treason or any other felony against this State or the United States, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of a felony in another state that also would be a felony if it had been committed in this State, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of corruption or malpractice in any office, or any person who has been removed by impeachment from any office, and who has not been restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law – N.C. Const. art. VI, sec. 8


Qualification as Juror –  [W]ho have not been convicted of a felony or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to an indictment charging a felony (or if convicted of a felony or having pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to an indictment charging a felony have had their citizenship restored pursuant to law. . .- NCGS 9-3


Disqualification as Personal Representative –  [C]onvicted felon, under the laws either of the United States or of any state or territory of the United States, or of the District of Columbia and whose citizenship has not been restored – NCGS 28A-4-2(3)


Forfeiture of Licensing Privileges – Regular and Commercial Drivers Licenses, Occupational Licenses, Hunting Licenses and Permits, and Fishing Licenses and Permits – NCGS 15A-1331.1


Forfeiture of Licensing Privilges in North Carolina


Restoration of Citizenship

Certain Rights of Citizenship in North Carolina are automatically restored upon the completion of the Felony Criminal Sentence.

North Carolina General Statute § 13-1 – “Restoration of Citizenship” sets forth the automatic process:


Restoration of Citizenship



North Caroilna Administrative Code


Collateral Consequences of Felony Conviction in North Carolina

Even after restoration of certain Rights of Citizenship, there are NUMEROUS long-term consequences in North Carolina that may not be immediately apparent.

The North Carolina Administrative Code is peppered with preclusions based on convictions of both misdemeanor and felony criminal charges.

The following are examples of the all-encompassing nature of potential administrative law implications associated with criminal convictions under the NCAC:

  1. Ineligible for employment/certification as a justice officer – 12 N.C.A.C. 10B.0307
  2. Ineligible for certification as justice officer – 12 N.C.A.C. 10B.0204
  3. Ineligible for commission as company police officer – 12 N.C.A.C. 2I.0212
  4. Ineligible for commission as campus police officer – 12 N.C.A.C. 2J.0209
  5. Ineligible for DCIN user certification – 12 N.C.A.C. 4H.0401
  6. Ineligible for employment as a law enforcement officer – 12 N.C.A.C. 9B.0111
  7. Ineligible for employment as local confinement personnel – 12 N.C.A.C. 9B.0114
  8. Ineligible to for admittance as trainee in criminal justice school/training program – 12 N.C.A.C. 9B.0203
  9. Ineligible for employment as a juvenile justice officer – 12 N.C.A.C. 9B.0117
  10. Ineligible for employment as juvenile/chief court counselor – 12 N.C.A.C. 9B.0116
  11. Ineligible for private personnel service license – 13 N.C.A.C. 17.0102
  12. Ineligible for Hunter Safety Instructor Certification – 15A N.C.A.C. 10K.0103
  13. Ineligible for inclusion of wrecker service on highway patrol rotation wrecker list – 14B N.C.A.C. 7A.0116
  14. Ineligible to be registered environmental consultant (conviction of employees) – 15A N.C.A.C. 13C.0304
  15. Ineligible to serve as a trusted role employee with access to public key technology – 18 N.C.A.C. 10.0306
  16. Ineligible for registration as architect – 21 N.C.A.C. 2.0302
  17. Revoke license as interpreter/transliterator – 21 N.C.A.C. 25.0302
  18. Revoke/ineligible for locksmith license (permanent/category I offense) – 21 N.C.A.C. 29.0402


See More:  Effects of Criminal Convictions on Licensing, Eligibility to Participate and the North Carolina Administrative Code 



Resource Materials for Felony Charges in North Carolina:



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