Question on if you have ever been charged with a felony?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by ndfire83, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. ndfire83

    ndfire83 Registered User

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    I have asked a few people in my home Lodge and no one has an answer on if that is a "deal breaker". I have heard that there might be a person that is going to petition our Lodge and has been charged with a felony. Does that mean we can't let him in? Like I said earlier in ND I can't get a satisfying answer.
     
  2. Dragon

    Dragon Registered User

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    It has been my experience that this issue should be taken on a case by case basis. There are a number of factors that can come into play here. First, how long ago was the conviction? Was this a "young and dumb" type situation? Were they just caught up in a "wrong place, wrong time" type of thing? What was the charge for which they were convicted. I know people personally that will NOT petition a lodge because while they are NOW the type of man that Masonry seeks, they know that the conviction from their ignorant actions in their youth will be a hindrance to their progressing beyond submitting a petition. I also know of others whom were convicted in their youth of crimes, they served their time, and because it was a juvenile offense, the records are now sealed. They could have denied any conviction, but honesty and their conscience would not let them hide the truth. That alone in my opinion makes them worthy to be a Mason.
     
  3. MGM357

    MGM357 Registered User

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    Not to sound like a hardcore, but if we are not to allow any man with a felony to become a part of our fraternity, then that's the way it is. I don't like the idea that a felony can be overlooked because it was a long time ago, wrong place, wrong time, etc. small exceptions today can turn into larger exceptions tomorrow. Here's an example: Two 18 yr old men both both committed a crime, one was arm robbery the other sexual assualt. Both did their time ( without parole). They are now hard working men, married, etc.
    Which one is the exception? and which one is the rule?
     
  4. Dragon

    Dragon Registered User

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    I didn't say there was an exception, I said that there were a number of factors to take into consideration. One of which being the crime itself. Armed Robberies and Sexual Assault would both fall under the similar categories, whereas a Posession charge may not, i.e. someone honestly left the stuff in his car and he got pulled over and did not know it was in there. In that instance, because it was HIS car, he should have known what was in there, however his buddy decided to stuff the bag under the passenger seat and forgot to remove it when he got out of the car.
    I don't think someone with an armed robbery or sexual assault conviction would be petitioning a lodge once they got to that question, they would most likely think "Well, that counts me out", and stop right there. As I said, I know many a good men that would not even consider petitioning a lodge because they have a felony conviction on their record, and I know others who have petitioned a lodge and had a conviction on their record. It is the job of the investigation committee to do their job and make their recommendations based on their interviews with the candidate and report their findings to the lodge. It is then up to the Lodge as to whether or not they will receive the degrees in Masonry.
     
  5. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    It is not an automatic disqualifier in Texas. YGLMV (your Grand Lodge may vary).
     
  6. ndfire83

    ndfire83 Registered User

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    Bro.'s I apperciate everones input. I hope this question didn't cause hard feelings between any of you. I orginally was thinking the same thing that if you have been convicted then that was it, they shouldn't be accepted. But, the more I think about it and read what you all had to say, maybe it does matter what the crime was. Dragon you are absolutely right, it is up to the investigation committee. That is why I asked the question, I am sure I will be on that committee. We haven't been real active in our Lodge for the past few years. I am trying to get the guys back to doing everything we are supposed to do. We are investigating a few right now, and as I am a young man very interested in Masonry, I have been put on the committee. I am sure, after talking with the Master of our Lodge that I will be involved in all the invesigations this year. That is the reason i posted the question, I wonted to get the opnions of as many Brothers as I could so that if this man does petition the Lodge I can do the invesigation without worrying, am I giving the man the credit he should get.

    Fraternally Yours,
     
  7. MGM357

    MGM357 Registered User

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    What does the GLOT law say about this?
     
  8. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    Only that it must be disclosed in the petition.
     
  9. Michael Ray

    Michael Ray Registered User

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    Brethren if a may, I have recently as Master of my lodge had to contact the DDGM on felony afars. As I had it explained to me if a brother is convicted of a felony he in Texas is to receive a life time suspension. So if he is charged you may want to tread carefully on letting him in if he is about to get a conviction and be suspended. Now I thought he could be reinstated when he has served his time but I was told such is not the case.


    Mike Miles
    WM Homer #254
     
  10. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    He forfeits his endowment to the Lodge. Art. 318 (a) 8.

    "8. Holders of endowed membership certificates are subject to all
    of the provisions of the Constitution and Laws of the Grand Lodge of
    Texas, and loss of membership due to suspension or expulsion shall
    automatically terminate such endowed membership certificate, and
    shall cause such holder to forfeit his endowed membership and any
    future claim to fees paid or to revenues earned from such endowed
    membership. The Lodge which held the endowed membership at the
    time of forfeiture, as provided herein, shall continue to receive the
    revenues earned from such endowed membership.
     
  11. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    Worshipful, I'm afraid you were misinformed. A Brother who is convicted of a felony is automatically suspended but, except as provided for in the last two paragraphs of Art. 658,
    the former Brother may apply to his parent Lodge for reinstatement & restoration upon having "paid his debt to society".

    CHAPTER 20 - TITLE V
    REINSTATEMENT AND RESTORATION

    Art. 656. Definitions.

    Reinstatement and restoration have
    generally the same meaning and are often used interchangeably.
    In these statutes they are given separate and distinct meanings,
    as follows:

    Reinstatement is applied to membership in a Lodge or in the
    Grand Lodge and carries with it the rights, privileges and honors
    attaching to such membership. It means re-establishment of
    membership when such membership has been lost through fault
    or dereliction.

    Restoration is applied to the rights and privileges of
    Freemasonry and means the reinvestiture of those rights and
    privileges when they have been lost through fault or dereliction.
    A Mason so restored, if he is not also reinstated, has the status of
    an unaffiliated Mason.

    Art. 657. Jurisdiction. The Lodge of which the accused, in a
    Masonic disciplinary proceeding, was a member at the time of his
    loss of membership has exclusive jurisdiction over his reinstatement
    and restoration.

    (a) Where a Mason holds a plural membership and that
    Brother is expelled or suspended for a Masonic disciplinary
    violation, jurisdiction for reinstatement and/or
    restoration is vested in the parent Lodge. The parent
    Lodge, however, by majority vote at a stated meeting of
    that Lodge, can assign its jurisdiction to any other Lodge
    where membership was held by that Mason.

    (b) The Grand Lodge has exclusive jurisdiction to reinstate
    to membership therein, except where automatic
    reinstatement is provide for elsewhere in this Title.

    Art. 658. Reinstatement Or Restoration By Lodge.
    Petition And Vote.

    The Lodge having jurisdiction may, by a favorable
    ballot of the members of said Lodge present, reinstate or
    restore, as the case may be, a suspended or expelled Mason. A
    written petition for such reinstatement or restoration, signed by
    the petitioner, must be filed with the Secretary and presented to
    the Lodge reciting facts showing that he has made expiation for
    his offense and has discharged the terms and conditions of his
    sentence, including completion of probation, parole, or supervised
    release; said petition shall be read at the first stated meeting of
    the Lodge after it is filed.

    The Worshipful Master shall appoint a committee
    on investigation which shall report its findings and
    recommendations at a subsequent stated meeting of the Lodge
    whereupon a ballot shall be taken upon said petition. Only
    members of the Lodge in attendance may vote.

    In balloting on a suspended or expelled Mason for reinstatement or restoration,
    other than for non-payment of dues, three black balls shall reject
    for one year, four blackballs for two years and five or more blackballs
    for three years.

    Protests shall be allowed in accordance with Article 660, and the ballot
    shall be announced accordingly.

    Notwithstanding the above, any member who is found guilty
    of, or who enters a plea of guilty, or of no contest to the charge of
    pedophilia or related charges (such as Indecency with a Child by
    sexual contact or any other means, Aggravated Sexual Assault
    with a child by any means and Sexual Assault with a Child by any
    means) and having been previously expelled from Masonry, shall
    not be considered for reinstatement or restoration of any Masonic
    membership and said member shall be expelled from Masonry for
    life and never again be considered for any Masonic related activity
    or membership.

    Any current Member having been charged and found guilty of, or
    having pleaded no contest to charges of pedophilia (such as Indecency
    with a Child by sexual contact or any other means, Aggravated Sexual
    Assault with a child by any means, Sexual Assault with a Child by any
    means) shall be expelled immediately, for life, from this Grand Jurisdiction.
    (Adopted, 2003)
     
  12. MGM357

    MGM357 Registered User

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    If a Brother is covicted of a felony is automatically suspended, should we try to look at a petitioner of the Lodge through the same eyes? He would automatically be not worthy of the Degrees of Masonry.
     
  13. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    I think I would advise him to withdraw his petition until his situation is resolved, one way or the other.
     
  14. Michael Ray

    Michael Ray Registered User

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    I didn't mean to e imply he was unworthy. Just to make sure all avenues from grand Lodge have been checked. Thanks BILL_LINS for the info I will look into that. I was told that he could be reinstated that was why I contacted the DDGM.
     
  15. tomasball

    tomasball Premium Member

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    This came up a couple of years ago, and we searched out a grand master's decision from 1923 that says if a petitioner has served time in the penitentiary, the matter is left to the discretion of the lodge he is petitioning.

    Tom Ball
    San Juan 1173
     
  16. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    doesn't the felony have to be of "moral terpitude?"
     
  17. ndfire83

    ndfire83 Registered User

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    I agree, if he would be suspended, then some one who has commited the act in the past should be looked at a lot harder than some one who has never been even brought up on any charges. I am not saying that there are times where this might not be the case, but I tend to think that if they have committed crimes in the past that would be a felony charge then they are more likely to do it again. More so than a person who has not altogether.
     
  18. MGM357

    MGM357 Registered User

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    Define moral terpitude.
     
  19. js4253

    js4253 Premium Member Premium Member

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    My opinion. Most people have committed crimes in their youth. Some worse than others. The Lodge should review the crimes committed and decide if they think the person has matured and changed his ways. I know I have had a few too many drinks in the past that, had I been stopped by police would have earned me a DWI. I seldom drink now and am glad to be a Mason.

    If a man who has the honor to call himself a Mason commits a felony he has let the fraternity down.
     
  20. HKTidwell

    HKTidwell Premium Member

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    My opinion for what it is worth, this depends upon the crime and the time of the crime. If this is something that recently happened then I would be against allowing the petitioner in. If this is a heinous, violent, sexual.. crime I would be against it. There are some crimes that I would possibly overlook, depending upon all factors.

    Also we must remember that our definition of crimes has changed over time. For example, DWI's are a felony now after X time, at one point this was not the case. So lets say X person had DWI's 20 years ago and now determines, after he has changed, to petition he would not be lying. If this same situation plays out 20 years from now you would have to say yes. So has society changed who is worthy and who is not?
     

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