How Collateral Consequences Can Affect People Convicted of Crimes

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East Hartford criminal defense lawyer for collateral consequencesMost people understand that breaking the law can result in a variety of penalties. A conviction on criminal charges can result in large fines, a prison sentence, and other punishments. However, what many people may not realize is that criminal offenders will often face a lifetime of additional consequences, even after they have fully completed their sentences. A criminal record can place a number of restrictions on a person, and because of this, many convicts struggle to maintain stability in their lives and avoid additional criminal activities. Criminal justice advocates are working to bring people’s attention to this issue and help those who have paid their debt to society successfully reintegrate into their communities.

Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

There are penalties associated with different types of criminal convictions, and these can range in severity depending on whether a person is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the circumstances of their alleged crime, and whether they have any previous convictions. In addition to these penalties, offenders may face a variety of “collateral consequences” after serving their sentence and being released. 

Advocates have identified more than 45,000 different types of collateral consequences that affect convicts throughout the United States. In Connecticut, these consequences include:

  • Voting rights and public service - Convicted felons lose the right to vote and run for or hold public office while they are serving a prison sentence. These rights are restored once a person has completed a sentence of confinement, as well as any parole. In addition, a person cannot serve on a jury within seven years of being convicted of a felony or while they are the defendant in a criminal case.

  • Employment - Many employers perform background checks before hiring employees, and a criminal conviction may disqualify a person from consideration. A felony conviction may result in the revocation or denial of a professional license, including for nurses, physical therapists, barbers and hairdressers, and certain types of contractors. 

  • Housing - People with a criminal record will often have trouble finding a place to live, since landlords may perform background checks and refuse to accept tenants who have criminal convictions. Landlords may also evict tenants who have been convicted of certain types of felonies.

  • Education - Students between the ages of 7 and 21 can be suspended or expelled from school based on arrests or convictions for offenses such as weapons crimes, drug crimes, or other criminal behavior on or off school grounds that violates school board policies.

  • Public benefits - Criminal convictions may lead state or federal agencies to revoke or deny benefits for medical care, income assistance, food, or shelter. Convictions for drug charges will make a person ineligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or food stamps unless they have completed their sentence, are following the terms of probation, or are participating in a drug treatment program.

  • Immigration - Non-U.S. citizens, including Green Card holders, may face deportation if they are convicted of certain types of misdemeanor or felony criminal charges, including in cases involving plea bargains, suspended sentences, and pre-trial diversion programs.

  • Sex offender registration - Those convicted of non-violent sexual offenses, sexual crimes against children, and some other sexual offenses will be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years. Those convicted of sexually violent offenses or who have been convicted of multiple sex crimes must register as a sex offender for life. Registered sex offenders will face restrictions on where they can live, they will be unable to work in certain jobs, and they will be required to update their information and check in with law enforcement officials on a regular basis.

Contact a Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney

Since the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can affect a person for the rest of their life, it is crucial for anyone who is facing criminal charges to secure representation from a skilled attorney. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we will help you determine your best options for defending against the charges you are facing, and we will fight to protect your rights and help you avoid consequences both now and in the future. To learn how we can help with your case, contact our Connecticut criminal defense lawyer at 860-290-8690 to arrange your free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/30/post-prison-laws-reentry-451445

https://www.acluct.org/en/news/removing-collateral-consequences-record-now-more-important-ever

http://ctsentencingcommission.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Collateral_Consequences_of_Conviction_revised_2015.pdf

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