When a judge or jury convicts most defendants of a crime, their criminal record becomes an anchor, forever affecting their life -- particularly when that crime is a felony.
The collateral consequences of a conviction -- the way that a person’s life is affected outside of any sentence they receive -- can be fierce.
Many collateral consequences aim to reduce employment opportunities. The American Bar Association's data shows that an estimated 70% of the 46,000 identifiable collateral consequences are employment-related.
Ex-offenders with a felony can be barred from positions requiring professional licenses such as cab driving, construction work and barbershops. Those convicted of certain crimes may be prohibited from working in places where children congregate, such as movie theaters or bowling alleys. Many of those restrictions exist because they view felons as having an inherently poor moral character based on their previous convictions.
Housing can similarly be limited, as can the ability to obtain student loans, educational opportunities and more.
Many opponents of collateral consequences argue that collateral consequences are too punitive. They say that they increase the likelihood of recidivism by failing to allow a person to reintegrate back into society after their sentence is served. They argue that most offenders end up being released from incarceration only to re-offend again after being unable to become gainfully employed.
If you're facing criminal charges, a strong defense strategy is the best way to protect your future. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you learn more.