Winning any criminal appeal always brings a tremendous sense of accomplishment; after all, it’s no small thing to overturn a judge’s ruling or a jury’s verdict. There’s an added joy, however, in winning an appeal where the defendant was not previously a felon. Most people do not appreciate the numerous ways that the “felon” label continues to hamper one’s life, even long after the sentence has been served. Some may know that felons have extremely limited firearm rights, and that they also can have limited voting rights. Not many people consider other “regular life” consequences, like the difficulty or outright prohibition against felons holding certain licenses. Did you know, for example, that a felon may be unable to obtain a plumber’s license?
For all those reasons, the win in State v. McDaris was particularly satisfying. The case involved an unfortunate incident while the defendant was intoxicated, where he mistakenly entered someone’s home. Because of a zealous prosecution, Mr. McDaris was ultimately convicted of first degree burglary, a class D felony (felonies are categorized by class, with “A” being the most serious and “I” being the least, so a class D felony is a serious offense). On appeal, this firm was able to successfully argue that the felony charge should be vacated. Mr. McDaris will ultimately only have a misdemeanor charge on his record, and he faces no prison time. Additionally, he will not have the “felon” label which would have continued to limit his rights and job opportunities long after he had completed his sentence. All in all, the win will put a person’s life back on track after a youthful mistake.