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Collateral Consequences - What They Are and How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

What Are Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction?

Collateral consequences from a criminal charge include civil and administrative penalties which, according to statute, attach to a criminal conviction. These repercussions are not direct consequences, like jail time, fines, or probation, but nonetheless can have a significant impact on your life if you are facing criminal charges.

Collateral consequences from a criminal conviction may include the loss of or restrictions placed on a professional license, loss or suspension of a driver’s license, registration as a sex offender following conviction for a sex crime, exclusion from consideration for certain jobs, loss of eligibility to receive public assistance such as welfare benefits or student loans, loss of voting rights, ineligibility for jury duty, restrictions on your right to possess a firearm and, for immigrants, may include deportation.

Judges are generally not required to warn people facing criminal charges of the potential collateral consequences of a conviction or guilty plea. However, a notable exception was the case of Padilla v. Commonwealth of Kentucky where the U.S. Supreme Court said judges must warn someone accused of a crime if they are facing the possibility of deportation.

Collateral Consequences Create Additional Problems for Criminal Defendants

Collateral consequences create social and economic barriers for individuals re-entering society after a criminal conviction, and people who have been convicted of a crime may face difficulties obtaining benefits that are available to other Americans.

Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction have been shown to lead to higher rates of recidivism, and can touch almost all aspects of a person’s life, including eligibility for certain career choices, the loss or suspension of a driver’s license, and difficulty finding suitable housing.

According to the American Bar Association, 87% percent of employers conduct background checks, and recent surveys show that most employers will not hire applicants who have served time in prison. As a result, almost 60% of convicted individuals are unemployed one year after their release. When they do find work, they are often required to take a significant pay cut.

Federal law bans certain people from accessing public housing, which means that entire families may be barred from public housing if one member of the family has been arrested, has a pending criminal charge, or has been convicted. Similarly, most landlords request background and credit checks for potential tenants, and screen out people with criminal records.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Collateral Consequences from a Criminal Conviction

If you have been charged with a crime, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can work with you to identify potential collateral consequences of a conviction, advise you on how collateral consequences might impact your life if you are found guilty, and can take steps to negotiate a plea bargain that might help lessen or even avoid many collateral consequences.

The American Bar Association has identified collateral consequences as an important factor affecting criminal defendants, and created the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction, an online, searchable database that identifies statutes and regulations that impose collateral consequences in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal criminal system.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help minimize the impact of collateral consequences on your life. In some cases, collateral consequences can be avoided altogether, such as when criminal conduct can be prosecuted under multiple criminal statutes. In a case like this, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to work with the prosecutor to negotiate a plea bargain so that the defendant will accept a guilty plea to a charge that does not carry collateral consequences.

In cases where collateral consequences cannot be completely avoided, a criminal defense lawyer can prepare you for the potential collateral consequences of a guilty plea and work with you to minimize their impact.

Christina L. Williams and the Just Criminal Legal Group Are Here to Help When You’ve Been Charged with a Crime

If you or someone you care about is facing criminal charges, it is important that you be made aware of the potential collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Once you are armed with this knowledge, your criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid or minimize the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction.

Wyoming criminal defense lawyer Christina L. Williams is a former prosecutor, and has a deep knowledge of both the direct and indirect consequences of a criminal charge and conviction. She and her team of criminal defense professionals will work hard to fight for your rights, and minimize the impact of a criminal charge and conviction on your life.

Learn more about attorney Christina L. Williams and her team of criminal defense professionals, why clients choose us, and the communities we serve. Contact us today for answers to additional questions and to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session by calling (307) 686-6556, emailing, or by completing our online form.

You only have one shot at justice - don’t leave it to chance.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.

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