The forfeiture of various civil rights upon conviction of a felony is no modem innovation. Conviction of a crime in the Roman Republic resulted in the deprivation of many of the same rights denied convicted felons today. Most statutes define a "felony" in terms of the possible punishment for a particular act rather than in descriptions of the actual conduct forbidden. In Virginia "such offenses as are punishable with death or confinement in the penitentiary are felonies," while "all other offenses are misdemeanors." One unfortunate enough to be convicted of a felony becomes subject to sanctions imposed by the state. In addition to bearing whatever punishment may be meted out at trial, the convicted felon perhaps surprisingly finds himself somewhat less than a citizen. By virtue of his new distinction he has lost certain civil rights and incurred particular civil disabilities. Upon parole he will find additional restrictions placed on his freedom until his final release.
Howard E. Hill,
Rights of the Convicted Felon on Parole,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
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