People who are facing a criminal charge may think only about the sentence the court may hand down for a conviction. They don’t spend much time considering the collateral consequences that can occur.
A collateral consequence is a restriction or prohibition that occurs because of established laws or regulations. These can severely affect people long after their criminal case is over. Many of these are life-long so they continue to affect the person even after they finish their court-imposed sentence.
Often unexpected consequences
While some collateral consequences are set for valid reasons, there are some that are set for seemingly no reason. For example, a convicted rapist being prevented from working with disabled patients is a way to protect the patients. But, what purpose does it serve for a person who’s convicted of a felony to be prohibited from voting?
Some other collateral consequences include things like losing a professional license, being unable to receive financial aid for college, and an inability to receive public assistance. Some collateral consequences aren’t imposed by the government. Private businesses, including housing rental companies and employers, often won’t work with people who have felony convictions on their record.
Collateral consequences are only one of the factors that you have to think about when you’re determining what defense strategy to use. Making sure you use a strategy that you feel is in your best interests is crucial. Just don’t wait too long to start working on your defense because a rushed defense might not include all the elements that can help.