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What is “attainder of felony?”

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2019 | Expungements

You may stand to lose quite a bit if you end up being convicted of a felony in Roanoke. Depending on the offense in question, heavy fines or even a forfeiture of freedom in the form of a prison sentence (or a combination of both) may await you. You should you lose everything? As hard as it may be to believe, there are actual legal principles that dictate that certain offenses could lead to such a loss.

The concept of an “attainder” is one that arose during old English (from which many of the legal principles that we currently recognize came). It equated to a metaphorical stain associated with a person when they became associated with a serious offense. Being assigned an attainder meant that the assignee forfeited both their title and property (and in many cases, their lives). With an attainder also came the idea of “corruption of blood,” which basically meant that an offender’s family was also punished for being associated with them, and thus could not inherit anything from them.

The idea of an attainder of felony (being convicted of a felony) resulting in forfeiture of assets and property has indeed been cited in the U.S. If applied literally, it could essentially equate to losing everything (and not being able to bestow any of your property on to your family) if you were convicted of a felony. Fortunately, according to Section 55-4 of the Code of Virginia, the state does not consider attainder of felony as being grounds for the forfeiture of your estate. While this post is not meant to be a substitute for legal advice, it may be reasonable to say that an individual or official suggesting otherwise could be violating your rights.