Collateral Consequences of Conviction
What are collateral consequences?
Collateral consequences are the additional affects or penalties after you’ve been convicted of a crime. Some collateral consequences of a conviction include, losing the right to vote, being denied student loans through the government, loss of employment opportunities, deportation, loss of a professional license, and your arrest/mugshot as a permanent public record. These are all private and/or civil penalties in nature. They are private in the sense that private employers can refuse to hire you and the community can look down on you and treat you differently because of your conviction. The civil penalties include losing your professional license, the ability to vote and losing the ability to own firearms. Some of these can apply for a limited amount of time. Others can apply for life and send you in a downward spiral.
Which collateral consequences apply to my case?
The collateral consequences of conviction depend on what crime you have been convicted. In a previous post about Possession of Marijuana , I briefly explained a couple consequences of conviction. In that charge for example, you may not be able to request Federal financial aid through FAFSA because the possession of marijuana is a drug conviction. Another collateral consequence would be the loss of your driver’s license in Texas for 6 months.
That would make it almost impossible to get around anywhere in Texas. If you lose your license, that’s an example of a temporary or limited collateral consequence. You will still need to be able to drive. To make that happen, you need to know How to Request an Occupational License in Texas (checklist provided in that link). Felony convictions on your record may prevent you from voting – FOR LIFE! In addition, they can prevent you from owning a firearm forever.
If you are very concerned about the collateral consequences of conviction then you and your lawyer should sit down and discuss them. Lawyers are obligated, legally and ethically, to inform clients of their rights and the collateral consequences of conviction. It’s hard, if not impossible, to discuss every possible collateral consequence of conviction. If you’re going to take a plea bargain, it’s important to ask some of these questions to your lawyer. A great plea deal on the front end may have surprising collateral consequences on the back end. A more detailed list of collateral consequences of conviction in Texas can be found by clicking this link.
Collateral consequences will affect your life after your conviction. There are hundreds of these consequences and the vast majority won’t ever affect the vast majority of people. However, it’s important to be aware of the most common ones that I outlined up above in this article. Once you’re aware of them, and discuss them with your attorney, your decision whether or not to take a plea deal should be much easier. Most plea deals include some type of probation or deferred adjudication. If so, a completed deferred adjudication is eligible for record sealing. Don’t let a conviction be the defining moment of your life.