Can a Convicted Felon Get a Passport in Florida?

How Does a Felony Charge Affect Obtaining a Passport in Florida?

Few things can disrupt your life like being arrested for a felony crime. Unfortunately, however, the arrest is usually only the beginning. Once you are arraigned and make bail, you may find your life has been disrupted in several ways. One of these is the ability to travel abroad. The U.S. State Department may not approve your passport application if you have an outstanding felony charge. If you already have a passport, the courts may have it suspended or revoked pending the outcome of your case.  If you've been arrested for a felony crime in the state of Florida, you need to take the matter seriously for multiple reasons. Contact a professional criminal defense lawyer immediately. Read on to find out what you can do about traveling abroad with an outstanding felony.

Who Is Not Eligible For a Passport in Florida?

To receive a U.S. passport in Florida — or anywhere else in the country for that matter — you must either be a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen national. A non-citizen national is a person who was born in a U.S. territory. If you are not a citizen or non-citizen national, you cannot get a U.S. passport, but there are other reasons that a U.S. citizen can have their passport application denied or their current application revoked, including being convicted of certain drug crimes.

Under 22 U.S.C. 2714 of the U.S. Code, passports can be denied to convicted drug traffickers. The law is sufficiently broad, however, and a person who is convicted of a lesser drug crime could be deemed a drug trafficker for the purpose of passport revocation or denial. This is why it's essential to retain the services of a criminal defense lawyer in your case as early as possible.

If you have been convicted of the following drug crimes, the State Department can deny or revoke your passport:

  • Any federal drug offense
  • Any felony state drug offense
  • A misdemeanor drug offense if the Secretary of State's office determines that the crime was egregious enough to warrant your passport's suspension or revocation. A first-offense misdemeanor for drug possession does not warrant revocation or suspension.

If you're in prison or on parole for any of the above crime classifications, you are ineligible to receive a passport.

Reasons a U.S. Passport Can Be Denied

U.S. passports are distributed to citizens by the Department of State. While the officials cannot deny a U.S. citizen a passport without cause, there are many reasons for passport denial. Other than denial for a drug charge, some of the most common reasons for revocation or denial include:

  • Owing child support
  • Substantial overdue, unpaid tax debt
  • Having a passport previously revoked because it was:
    • obtained illegally or fraudulently
    • altered or misused
    • issued to a person whose Certificate of Citizenship or Nationalization
    • was canceled
  • The applicant is a minor in a custody dispute
  • The applicant is subject to a foreign extradition request
  • There is a court order preventing the applicant from extra-territorial travel
  • Defaulting on an assistance loan from the Department of State

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?

The best way to avoid passport denial or revocation is to avoid conviction. If you've been charged with a drug crime, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer with experience defending narcotics offenses immediately. In addition to being ineligible for a passport, a drug crime conviction can lead to prison time, probation, fines, and a criminal record. After your criminal defense lawyer examines the prosecutorial case against you, they can determine whether you should try to defend the case in court or accept a negotiated plea. In some cases, the prosecutor will prompt the State Department to allow the defendant to keep their passport as part of a plea bargain. This is something you should consider if you've been charged with a drug crime and you need to travel while your case is pending or during your parole or probationary period.

Additionally, a criminal defense lawyer can petition the court to reverse an order that revoked your passport. Your attorney would have to demonstrate to the court that you are not a flight risk and that allowing you to possess a passport will not facilitate future crimes.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Passport Revocation or Denial

If you've had your passport revoked or your application denied due to a criminal offense or criminal history, you need to speak to a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can review your case and determine whether or not the judgment was appropriate. They can then begin working through the courts to get your passport back. The following are some of the most common questions that our attorneys at Weinstein Legal receive regarding this area of the law. If you are in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact our Florida criminal defense attorney, Matt Shafran, with your questions.

Can a Felon Get a Passport?

The ability to travel is considered a basic human right in the United States, so you can usually get a passport with a past felony conviction or even a series of felony convictions. Your request for a passport may be denied or revoked if you have a drug conviction if you're currently incarcerated, or it is prohibited by the terms of your probation or parole.

Can They Revoke My Passport if I Still Have It?

Whether or not you retain your physical passport has no bearing on its status. In most cases, the courts will ask you to surrender your passport if they are revoking your ability to travel, but even if you claim to have lost it, for instance, the State Department would still receive notification and invalidate it. It's unlikely you would be able to use it for travel since the passport scanners provide instantaneous feedback.

How Can I Get My Passport Back After It's Been Revoked?

Your attorney can advise you what the conditions of your revocation are and when you will be eligible again. As long as you aren't barred for other reasons — child support, back taxes, etc. — you should be eligible for a new passport once you've served your sentence and completed any parole or probation period.

What Can an Attorney Do if My Passport Has Been Revoked?

In many cases, the courts have the State Department revoke your passport for the simple reason that the guidelines say that they should. If you are not a flight risk and your attorney can show that you will not use your ability to travel to commit additional crimes, the courts may allow you to have a passport.

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach

Attorney Matt Shafran of Weinstein Legal has dedicated his career to defending individuals who are accused of crimes and helping them rebuild their lives after an arrest or conviction. He has an unparalleled record of success. If you have been charged with a crime in Broward or Palm Beach counties or you are trying to recover your passport after a post-arrest revocation, contact Weinstein Legal today.

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