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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 19225
Experience:  Lawyer and current JAG officer.
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There are so many conflicting sites/information, trying to

Customer Question

There are so many conflicting sites/information, trying to find out how someone that served a year at Fort Leavenworth and dishonorably discharged from Army in 1980s can get his voting rights in Iowa restored. At first he didn't care but now regrets striking a superior officer has haunted him forever. Convicted felon cannot get decent job, own land, or vote.
JA: Have you talked to a JAG attorney about this? Or anyone in the chain of command?
Customer: No
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I am not the person just trying to find out information for a friend/fiance
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 5 months ago.

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance.

There is no expungement method for a federal conviction. It simply can't be done. A military conviction is a federal conviction, so the same rule applies. The only way to have a federal conviction, like a military one, removed is to file for a Presidential Pardon through the Department of Justice.

The confusion that you may be seeing here is the issue of states having a "rights restoration" rule, but that applies to their own state level felonies. The Supreme Court addressed that issue in a case from 1994, noting that states can't apply their own criteria for restoration of gun ownership rights as it pertains to federal convictions. They have to apply, instead, the criteria of the federal law and, because there isn't a federal restoration of gun rights process, not grant the restoration of gun rights.

The other area of confusion concerns state rights to vote, which are actually dictated by each state. Each state decides what they consider to be a felony and it differs slightly from state to state. There are times when one state considers a court martial conviction a felony, and others do not, so the person could have rights to vote restored in one state and not another (again, more confusion). This gets even more confusing when states consider whether or not the alleged crime is specifically a military vs. actual crime (AWOL for instance has no civilian corollary).

So, on the issue of voting, he just has to apply in the individual state that he is in and go through their restoration of voting rights process.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying that convicted felons can't own land. Yes, they may have issues obtaining jobs and loans, but there is no rule against owning land, unless convicted of a child pornography/sexual assault crime. Then the ownership of land near certain areas becomes an issue.

If you have any further questions or other facts that you would like me to consider, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a three, a four or preferably a five star rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Please rate me based on my service and not on your satisfaction with the law, which I am not in control of and I am just reporting to you. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Not looking nor caring about gun rights.In the state of Iowa, the voting laws are that you cannot vote if you are convicted felon. But, hitting a superior officer convicted by court martial does not have same state sentence as a being listed as a convicted felon for the rest of your life. Does Iowa consider this a felony? So, we just have to petition for state ?
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 5 months ago.

You have to have them restored by the Governor in Iowa, one of the most difficult states to have a restoration of rights.

You have to go through this process to do so.