If you have been charged with a crime in Missouri, it is important that you hire a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the potential collateral consequences that could affect you. Collateral consequences are legal, economic, and social sanctions and restrictions imposed on individuals with criminal records. They are “collateral” in the sense that they are not part of the judgment or sentence in a criminal case, like prison, jail, fines, or probation. Instead, collateral consequences occur outside the criminal justice system – often automatically and by operation of law. Some collateral consequences apply even when the defendant is acquitted or the charges dismissed, and some can apply based on an arrest alone – even if charges are never filed. And collateral consequences can interfere with people’s lives long after they have completed their criminal sentence.
Many collateral consequences are economic, social, or cultural, and therefore not easily researched or predicted. As for collateral consequences enacted into law, they are scattered throughout federal, state, and municipal statutory and regulatory codes, making it impossible to identify all of them. The Council of State Governments Justice Center maintains the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction, and at last count, it had catalogued more than 700 possible collateral consequences of criminal charges under Missouri law alone, plus more than 900 more under federal law.
Although collateral consequences are numerous and impossible to inventory completely, here are the Top 10 Most Common Collateral Consequences of Criminal Charges:
- Employment: Employers often discriminate against job applicants who have criminal records. Almost all job applications ask about criminal records, and many employers conduct background checks. Fingerprinted background checks will even uncover closed (non-public) records.
- Driver’s Licenses: Driving-related offenses in Missouri, especially Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”) and Driving While Revoked (“DWR”), can lead to points on a person’s driving record, the suspension or revocation of a person’s driver’s license, and the delay of eligibility for reinstatement. If a person has a Commercial Driver’s License (“CDL”), the consequences can be even more severe and can affect his or her livelihood.
- Professional Licenses: If you have a professional license of any kind, or if you plan to obtain a professional license in the future, criminal charges will likely become an issue before your licensing authority. This includes people who are or may become teachers, law enforcement officers, private security officers, doctors, nurses, certified nurse assistants, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, attorneys, securities brokers and registrants, insurance brokers, and any business owner who has a liquor license. In Missouri, professional licensing regulations often require license holders to report criminal charges, which leads to proceedings to revoke or suspend the license.
- Immigration: If you are not a United States citizen, even if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”), the immigration consequences of criminal charges can be severe, including deportation.
- Firearms: It is unlawful for someone with a felony or domestic assault conviction to own or possess a firearm or ammunition, even for hunting purposes. Likewise, a person on felony probation or parole, as well as people subject to an order of protection, cannot own or possess firearms or ammunition.
- Sex Offender Registry: Most sex offenses require registration on the Sex Offender Registry, and the list of registrable offenses grows every year. If you are charged with a sex offense, registration will be required if you are found guilty.
- Voting: Under Missouri law, a person in custody or on felony probation or parole is not allowed to vote. Voting rights are restored upon completion of the sentence, except for rare voting offenses.
- Jury Service: Missouri does not allow convicted felons to serve on juries.
- Public Benefits: Most criminal convictions make people ineligible for food stamps and public housing, and it is often a lifetime ban.
- Student Loans and Financial Aid: Drug convictions can make people ineligible to receive federally backed student loans and education grants. If you currently receive, or plan to apply for, student loans or educational financial aid and you are charged with a drug crime, you should consider whether a finding of guilt will interfere with your education.
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Missouri, you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can properly advise you about the potential collateral consequences of your charges. At Rose Legal Services in St. Louis, Missouri, experienced criminal defense attorney W. Scott Rose has successfully represented many clients for whom the collateral consequences were as important as – if not more important than – the criminal case itself. Call us today at (314) 462-0200 for a free consultation.