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Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

Collateral Consequences o…

What Are Collateral Consequences and How Can a Lawyer Help?

Collateral consequences are the things that happen after a criminal conviction that occur in addition to fines and jail time. They include civil and administrative fines, penalties that result from a criminal conviction, and the possibility of a harsher sentence for subsequent offenses. Unlike jail time, fines, and probation, which are direct consequences, collateral consequences are not imposed by the sentencing court but can nonetheless have a significant impact on your life if you are convicted of a crime.

Common collateral consequences of a criminal include:

  • Loss or suspension of a driver’s license
  • Loss or restriction of a professional license
  • Professional discipline
  • Interference with custody or visitation of minor children
  • Loss of voting rights
  • Registration as a sex offender following conviction for a sex crime
  • Not being considered for certain jobs
  • Lost earnings
  • Lost eligibility for government benefits, including welfare and student loans
  • Ineligibility for jury duty
  • Loss of firearm rights
  • Possible deportation
  • Ineligibility for public housing

You also face the possibility of enhanced penalties if you are charged with another crime. If you have a prior conviction and are later charged with another crime, you may be classified as a habitual offender and subject to a harsher sentence than someone who does not have a criminal record.

At sentencing, prosecutors often cite statistics that purport to show that repeat offenders are more likely to re-offend and use this in an effort to justify the imposition of a harsher sentence. For certain crimes, such as DUIs and domestic violence, statutes mandate a harsher penalty for people with prior convictions.

Generally, judges are not required to advise criminal defendants of the potential for collateral consequences. A lawyer can help by discussing the possible collateral consequences of a conviction before you agree to plead guilty. One notable exception is the possibility of deportation. If you are an immigrant and face the risk of deportation as a result of a criminal conviction, judges are required to advise of this fact before you enter a guilty plea.

Collateral Consequences Create Social and Economic Barriers and Increase Rates of Recidivism

Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction create social and economic barriers for people trying to re-enter society after being convicted of a crime. People who have been convicted of a crime often face additional barriers to obtaining benefits that are available to others.

Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction have been shown to lead to a higher rate of recidivism precisely because they can make it more difficult for someone who has been convicted of a crime to reintegrate into society. Eighty-seven percent of employers conduct background checks and surveys show that employers are less likely to hire applicants who have served time in prison. As a result, 60% of people who have spent time in prison remain unemployed after their release. And when people with a criminal record do find work, it is often at a significant pay cut.

People with a criminal record also face exclusion from public housing. If one member of a family has been charged with a crime, an entire family may face eviction or be barred from many public housing options. In addition, most landlords conduct a criminal background check and are less likely to rent to people who have criminal records.

A criminal defense lawyer can help identify the potential collateral consequences of a criminal conviction and help minimize their impact. An attorney can help you avoid conviction in the first place, minimize the effect of collateral consequences after a criminal conviction, or help you prepare to navigate the world with a criminal record. The National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction is a useful starting point that provides a searchable database of statutes and regulations that impose collateral consequences for a criminal conviction.

Fremstad Law — Moving You Forward

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help minimize or even avoid collateral consequences. For example, some crimes can be prosecuted under multiple statues, and a lawyer can negotiate a plea to a crime that does not carry collateral consequences. When collateral consequences cannot be avoided, a lawyer can help prepare you and your family for the collateral consequences of a conviction and work with you to minimize their impact. 

If you are facing criminal charges in North Dakota or Minnesota, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Fremstad Law as soon as possible. Nick Thornton and the criminal defense lawyers at Fremstad Law are here to help move you forward. Contact Nick Thornton today by calling (701) 6369-2326.