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A felon is a person who has committed a felony. Status as a felon may affect the severity of punishments a person receives if they are convicted of future crimes. For example, in states with three strikes laws, a felon who is convicted of a third felony is subject to life in prison with no possibility for parole

Additionally, status as a felon may subject a person to laws they otherwise would not have been required to comply with. For example, per 720 ILCS 5/24-1.1, it is illegal for a felon to possess a firearm in Illinois. 

Due to the risk of recidivism, many states provide felon protection laws designed to reduce the chance a felon commits further felonies. For example, in California, third party background check companies cannot provide employers with any felonies committed by a party from more than 7 years ago. 

[Last updated in January of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]