The social stigma people convicted of a crime face is a serious issue. Since the reality of mass incarceration has become a hot topic in recent years, we should also discuss the effects of these convictions on people’s lives.
The direct consequences are obvious, but there are collateral consequences to consider as well. 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 a prison sentence, 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 of criminal charges can interfere with people‘s lives long after they have completed their criminal sentence.
Read on to learn about these consequences. If you need more help, contact a St. Louis criminal defense attorney familiar with the potential collateral damage of criminal charges.
A Criminal Conviction Could Follow You
Many collateral consequences for formerly incarcerated people are economic, social, or cultural and, therefore, not easily researched or predicted. This is the case even after they plead guilty. 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. At last count, it had cataloged more than 700 possible collateral consequences of criminal charges under Missouri law alone, plus more than 900 more under federal law.
Criminal Convictions Have Far-Reaching Collateral Consequences
Although collateral consequences are numerous and impossible to inventory completely, here are the top 10 most common ones.
Employers often discriminate against job applicants who have criminal records. Almost all job applications ask about your criminal record, and many employers conduct background checks. Fingerprinted background checks will even uncover closed (non-public) records.
#2 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 affect their livelihood.
#3 Professional Licenses
If you have a professional license of any kind or plan to obtain a professional license in the future, criminal charges will likely become an issue before your licensing authority.
This includes people who may become:
- Law enforcement officers
- Private security officers
- Nurses and certified nursing assistants
- Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
- Securities brokers and registrants
- Insurance brokers
- Owners of businesses requiring 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.
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.
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 and people subject to an order of protection cannot own or possess firearms or ammunition.
#6 Sex Offender Registry
Most sex offenses require registration on the Sex Offender Registry. The list of registrable offenses grows yearly. If you are charged with a sex offense, registration will be required if you are found guilty.
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.
#8 Jury Service
Missouri does not allow convicted felons to serve on juries.
#9 Public Benefits
Most criminal convictions make people ineligible for food stamps and public housing, and it is often a lifetime ban.
#10 Student Loans and Financial Aid
A drug criminal conviction can make people ineligible to receive federally backed student loans and education grants. Suppose you currently receive or plan to apply for student loans, educational, or financial aid and are charged with a drug crime. In that case, you should consider whether a finding of guilt will interfere with your education.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney In St. Louis, MO
Suppose you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Missouri. In that case, you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can adequately 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. Contact us today for a free consultation.