Collateral Consequences of a Conviction

Following an arrest, many defendants worry about the possibility of a lengthy jail sentence or a fine that may accompany a criminal conviction. And in serious criminal cases, those factors do loom large. Yet just as often, it is not the threat of jail or a fine that threatens a defendant’s future; rather, the collateral consequences that follow a conviction are the true penalty and punishment that a defendant faces.

There are countless collateral consequences to any criminal conviction, and they are dependent on the type of crime, the severity, and the defendant’s personal life situation.  But here is a non-exhaustive list of a some of the collateral consequences that a defendant should consider before choosing a trial strategy or reaching a plea agreement:

  • Consequences to employment
  • Eligibility for security clearance
  • Loss of civil rights
  • Deportation or legal status change
  • Right to appeal
  • Eligibility to volunteer at school activities
  • Negative affect on professional license
  • Eligibility for state and local vocational license
  • Loss or restriction on driving privileges
  • Insurance cost increase
  • Affect on child custody or support issue
  • Exposure to civil liability
  • Eligibility for expungement
  • Eligibility for state, federal, and military benefits
  • Sex offender registry

This is only a short list of possible considerations, and each defendant’s specific family and career circumstances will implicate some of these considerations more than others. But it is easy to see that the collateral consequence of a conviction can outweigh the direct punishment from the conviction itself.  Regardless of whether you are charged with a serious or a seemingly minor criminal charge, it is important that you speak with experienced legal counsel to discuss the possible consequences of a conviction and to guide you through this process.  

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