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Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer for clearing criminal recordsIt is well-understood that committing a crime can lead to multiple types of consequences. However, many people are not fully aware of the long-term effects of being convicted on criminal charges. Even after a person has served their sentence, they will have a criminal record that will show up in background checks, which can affect their ability to obtain employment, secure housing, or pursue education. To address this issue and help people convicted of crimes better reintegrate into society, the Connecticut state Senate recently passed a “Clean Slate” bill.

Potential Changes in the Clean Slate Bill

The bill passed by the Senate would automatically erase certain types of criminal convictions from a person’s record after they have successfully completed their sentence and have not committed any crimes for a certain number of years. Misdemeanor convictions may be erased seven years after the date of conviction, and Class D or Class E felony convictions may be erased after 10 to 15 years.

Supporters of the bill believe that it strikes a balance between ensuring that criminals are punished for their crimes and allowing people who have served their debt to society to avoid ongoing collateral consequences. For far too many people, a criminal conviction can function as a life sentence, even for relatively minor offenses. Those who are unable to find employment because of a criminal record are likely to commit further crimes. Clearing criminal records after the proper amount of time has passed will ultimately increase public safety.

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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:

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asset forfeiture, Hartford criminal defense attorneyIt is rare for lawmakers from opposing parties to completely agree on a particular topic. When they do, the correct path is often so glaringly obvious that it transcends party lines and truly promotes the common good. Such was the case earlier this year when a bill regarding the forfeiture of assets seized in criminal investigations was put to a vote in the Connecticut legislature. In both the House and Senate, the measure was passed unanimously, and earlier this week, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed the bill into law. The new law looks to protect the rights of citizens by requiring a conviction before the government can permanently confiscate a person’s assets and property.

Understanding Asset Forfeiture

Private assets are often seized by law enforcement and government entities when a person is arrested on criminal charges. If the assets are deemed to be related to criminal activity, the government may look to keep them permanently either as part of the criminal proceedings or in a separate matter in civil court. Prior to the passage of the new law, however, civil asset forfeiture did not require the property owner to be convicted first. Estimates suggest that Connecticut police departments and prosecutors generated nearly $18 million in asset forfeiture between 2009 and 2016, with nearly two-thirds coming from civil proceedings without requiring a conviction.

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