There is a mistaken belief sometimes that you are convicted of a crime and serve your sentence, then you will have paid your debt to society – and that’s the end of it. But that is far from the end.
Collateral consequences exist, consequences separate from any direct ones you may face from pleading guilty or being convicted in court. If you are accused of a crime, it’s important to understand the full scope of what a conviction really means for your future, including the collateral consequences involved. Read on to find out what you need to know.
The consequences many people imagine when they think of criminal convictions are direct. These normal penalties include things like probation, jail time, and fines. Once these consequences have been satisfied or paid in full, then you can move on from them – it’s the collateral consequences of a conviction that tend to follow you around for a longer time.
If you are convicted of a crime in Texas and beyond, then you can face a variety of collateral consequences. Some of these consequences are obvious, while others may surprise you. Some examples of collateral consequences include:
If you live in or need to live in federally subsidized housing, then you can be denied because of a criminal conviction. Even local public housing offices and independent landlords may have restrictions in place that will not allow anyone with a prior criminal conviction to live in one of their units. And Section 8 housing is included in this.
North Carolina is an at-will employment state, which basically means that your employer can fire you at any time for no reason at all – which can include a criminal conviction or missed work due to your legal issues.
Additionally, it may not be possible for you to work at a job for the State of North Carolina or the federal government. Both will do background checks, and it’s possible that any convictions you have can disqualify you from the potential job, no matter your qualifications.
Furthermore, professional licensures can be put in jeopardy if you have a criminal conviction, so it’s important to understand whether or not that applies to you.
Getting Benefits for Unemployment
If you were terminated from your job due to criminal activity for which you were eventually convicted, then you cannot receive unemployment benefits for up to a year.
Another surprising collateral consequence of a criminal conviction is how it can impact your parental rights. Sometimes incarceration may be considered abandonment of a child, which can mean that your parental rights are terminated. That is the worst-case scenario, of course. It can also impact your visitation rights, depending on your specific conviction and what it is.
You may not be considering adoption now. However, if you are convicted of certain crimes, then you may be disqualified from ever having the right to adopt a child or have a child placed in your home.
If you are not a citizen, then a consequence of a criminal conviction may be that you are deported – or that you will not be able to apply for citizenship when you so desire.
Loss of Firearms
You can lose the right to purchase firearms and ammunition if you are convicted of certain felonies. This can be for just a short period of time or for the long term, depending on the nature of your conviction.