Collateral Consequences of Crime - Part 1

February 12, 2015

When we think about the consequences of being convicted of a crime, the first things that likely come to mind are imprisonment, fines, and probation. But, criminal convictions can have many other consequences as well. Some of these consequences, such as the loss of civil liberties, loss of driving privileges, or housing restrictions for sex offenders, are legally mandated, while some, such as loss of employment opportunities, loss of mortgage approval, or denial of some professional licenses, result largely from the social stigma of a criminal conviction. Because the consequences can be so far-reaching, it is important to understand their full breadth.

Disenfranchisement

One legal consequence of a felony conviction is the loss of civil liberties. This includes the right to vote, to hold public office, to serve as a juror, and to possess a firearm. In Florida, voting rights are suspended upon a felony conviction. However, they may eventually be restored. For those who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes, offenders may simply re-register to vote after five years have passed since the completion of the sentence. There is no need to apply for restoration of voting rights.

For those convicted of violent felonies, however, the restoration of voting rights requires more. Conviction for violent crimes other than murder or sexual battery means that the felon must apply to the clemency board seven years after the completion of sentence. The board may grant voting rights immediately, or it may investigate the individual case. The most violent crimes require that the clemency board investigate thoroughly, and the felon must attend a meeting of the board before his or her rights may be restored.

Additionally, felons cannot possess firearms. However, after eight years have passed since the completion of the sentence, the felon can apply to the clemency board to have that liberty restored.

Driving

In Florida, conviction for a drug crime results in the mandatory loss of driving privileges for up to one year. Additionally, convicted drunk drivers will see increases in their insurance premiums for at least three years, since their convictions mean that they are high-risk drivers to the insurance companies.

Immigration

A criminal conviction may have immigration consequences as well. Aliens may be deported if they entered the country illegally. Further, a conviction may result in deportation, even if the offender has a green card, student visa, temporary worker visa, or asylum or refugee status, if certain types of crimes have been committed. Criminal convictions may also interfere with naturalization. A conviction will prevent a person seeking naturalization from showing the required 180 days of good moral character.

The results of a criminal conviction are much broader than most people realize, and can affect all areas of life. If you have been charged with a crime, or are trying to rehabilitate yourself into society after a conviction, the advice of an experienced lawyer is extremely helpful. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.