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What are the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

A criminal conviction can result in far-reaching impacts that extend well beyond any immediate legal penalties imposed by the courts. These additional effects, known as collateral consequences, can be life-changing and affect various aspects of an individual’s personal and professional life. 

It is important to consider the potential of collateral consequences when deciding on any particular defense strategy. Some defendants choose to plead guilty to minimize immediate legal penalties without fully considering how a criminal record could impact their future after they’ve served any sentence imposed by the court.

Employment challenges

One of the most significant collateral consequences associated with a criminal conviction involves employment. A conviction, especially for a felony, can limit job opportunities or lead to termination from current employment when this turn of events shows up on a background check or otherwise becomes known to an employer. The stigma attached to a worker’s criminal record can also affect career advancement and salary potential.

Housing difficulties

Securing housing can become significantly more challenging with a criminal conviction on an individual’s record. Many landlords perform background checks and may decide that they don’t want to rent to individuals with a criminal history. Public housing authorities also often have strict policies against renting to individuals with certain types of convictions. This can lead to unstable living situations, exacerbating the difficulty of rebuilding one’s life post-conviction.

Educational barriers

A criminal conviction can also impede educational opportunities. Colleges and universities may deny admission based on criminal history, and those already enrolled may face expulsion. Additionally, eligibility for federal student aid can be affected, particularly for drug-related offenses, making it harder to afford higher education. Without access to education, it can be even more difficult to improve their employment prospects.

Immigration consequences

For non-citizens, a criminal conviction can result in severe immigration consequences, including deportation, denial of re-entry into the United States or ineligibility for naturalization. Immigration authorities take criminal records seriously, and certain offenses can result in mandatory removal from the country, regardless of family ties or length of residence.

Additionally, the stigma and social isolation associated with a criminal conviction can strain personal relationships. Ultimately, given the potentially extensive and life-changing collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, it is important to work diligently to avoid a conviction whenever possible. Seeking personalized legal guidance is a good way to get started.