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Bucher Law Group, LLC

What are collateral consequences following a criminal conviction?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Bucher Law Group, LLC - Blog Post

Facing a criminal charge can be an overwhelming experience. It can be difficult to process everything that is going on, and many thoughts and concerns run through the accused's mind. How serious is the charge? What evidence can be used against me? What penalties could I face? Are there any other consequences I could be hit with for having a criminal conviction? These are all normal question to face. However, many defendants in Wisconsin and elsewhere do not always focus on the last question and how a conviction could mean more than facing the penalties associated with the crime.

What are collateral consequences following a criminal conviction? To begin, it should be noted that collateral consequences are different from social consequences. Social consequences include things like losing a job and living with the social stigma of being convicted of that particular crime. In simple terms, a collateral consequence is any consequence that is a result of the sentence faced by a particular offender. In the United States, collateral consequences include the loss of or the restriction of professional licensures, the ineligibility for public funds, which includes welfare benefits and student loans, the loss of voting rights, the inability to serve on a jury, and even deportation if the convict is an immigrant.

All jurisdictions in all states impose these consequences. However, judges are not obligated to warn defendants of these collateral consequences, even if they are found guilty by trial or made a plea agreement. The only exception to this is for immigrants who could face deportation. Unfortunately, there are very few legal remedies for these collateral consequences. Although, in the recent years government organizations have discouraged actions that would result in unfair or harsh collateral consequences. For example, human resources managers have been urged to not automatically exclude convicts from employment consideration.

Facing a criminal charge could mean enduring harsh penalties that are not always associated with the sentence for the crime at hand. Because of that, defendants need to be aware of how a criminal charge, no matter the severity, could impact his or her life. This can help them initiate a strong and aggressive criminal defense that could result in reduced or dismissed the charges against them.

Source: National Institute of Justice, " Beyond the Sentence - Understanding Collateral Consequnces," accessed July 2, 2017

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