Collateral Consequences For Criminal Convictions
People understand that there are consequences for making bad decisions. In the court system, punishments come in the form of jail time, fines, and community service. Those punishments are imposed directly from a judge as part of sentencing. There are also collateral or additional consequences that can result from a conviction and are not always expected.
Collateral Consequences Can Be Unexpected, Severe, and Long-Lasting
Regrettably, many people do not understand the extent of collateral consequences, and the collateral consequences can sometimes be more severe and longer lasting than the actual sentence imposed by the judge. A criminal conviction can impact the following:
- Lifetime loss of right to possess a firearm for felony or some misdemeanor convictions
- Registration on Megan’s Law Website
- Sanctions from Penn State University
- Revocation of professional licenses for lawyers, doctors, nurses, engineers, and other licensed professionals
- Loss of financial aid
- Immigration status — can lead to deportation or loss of admissibility
- Loss of retirement pension
- Inability to obtain government loans
- Inability to pass security clearances for employment and even recreational purposes
- Suspension of driving privileges
As the above non-exhaustive list evidences, a criminal conviction can impact many different areas of a person’s life and thereby must be considered in determining how to resolve a case.
You Do Not Always Get Notice of Collateral Consequences
While the judge is often required to inform a person of the possible maximum sentences that a person faces when pleading guilty, the judge is only required to inform the person of the direct criminal penalties and is not required to discuss collateral consequences. It is the job of the criminal defense lawyer to inform a client of possible collateral consequences. Too often people are not informed of collateral consequences because they hire an inexperienced or jack-of-all-trades lawyer, or they represent themselves and rely on legal advice from the police officer, the district attorney, or the court. Ignorance of collateral consequences is often no excuse to avoid them or to change how the case was resolved.
By hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney, the client is likely to be informed about collateral consequences and steps can be taken to minimize the imact. Before hiring an attorney, you should review factors such as the attorney’s experience, case results, client reviews, peer reviews, and other attributes.
Free Initial Consultation With an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one is charged with a criminal offense, it is critical that you discuss the case with an attorney who focuses representation on criminal defense and has experience. Attorneys with experience take continuing legal education courses that focus on issues such as collateral consequences to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information to provide to clients.
For a free consultation with experienced criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle, call (814) 954-7622 or contact us by email.