A felon is a person who has been convicted of a felony, a severe crime which is punishable with more than a year in prison. Depending on the nature of the crime, in addition to being imprisoned, a felon may lose certain rights, such as the right to vote, while serving the sentence. The handling of felons varies widely depending on the nation in which a crime is committed and the nature of the crime.
Some examples of felonies are serious crimes such as rape, murder, aggravated assault, arson, and battery. Burglary can also result in a felony conviction as can some drug offenses. Some regions distinguish between violent and nonviolent felony offenses, separating felons by type when they are imprisoned. Felons can also be separated during incarceration if there are concerns about their safety or the safety of others.
Until someone has been convicted of a felony in a court of law, he or she is simply a suspect. People who have been accused of crimes have a number of protections under the law. These include the right to a fair trial and the right to access legal representation. After conviction, people still have rights, but they are truncated. For example, people are no longer entitled to move around freely after conviction, as felons are incarcerated as part of their punishment.
A felon may be released on probation if there is a belief that the criminal could benefit from probation as opposed to a prison sentence. Being released may provide opportunities for rehabilitation, for example. While on probation, the felon must report regularly to a probation officer and may have to submit samples of blood and urine for drug testing. There may be other restrictions on probation as well, such as an order to not leave a given area.
After serving a sentence, a felon is considered an ex-convict. Ex-convicts are often believed to pose a threat to society because of the nature of the crimes they have committed, and it is not uncommon for them to have difficulty securing housing or work. This can in turn put an ex-convict in an awkward position because the only way to survive may be to return to crime, even if this is not actually desirable. Programs which help people transition from prison to the outside world are specifically designed to address this issue, recognizing that people may need support, especially after extended prison stays.