Collateral Consequences of Crime - Part 2

February 18, 2015

Criminal convictions can have far-reaching consequences, beyond jail time, fines, or probation. Felons lose the right to vote, those convicted of drug crimes lose driver’s licenses, and non-citizens who reside in the U.S. may be deported. Besides these and other legal penalties, there can be social and economic repercussions as well. These consequences can last long after serving any sentence or paying any fine. Because of the seriousness of these repercussions, it is important to understand them in order to best combat or deal with them.

Housing

In Florida, sex offenders who have committed an offense against a child under sixteen cannot live within 1000 feet of schools, child care facilities, parks, or playgrounds. Municipal or county ordinances may create further restrictions. These restrictions can lead to a lack of affordable housing and even homelessness for offenders.

Renting or getting a mortgage can also be more difficult with a criminal conviction. Landlords often do background checks, and, depending on the type of crime, a lender may be more likely to turn down a mortgage application for someone with a criminal record.

Employment

Criminal convictions can also cause a loss of employment opportunities. Employment discrimination is facilitated by the public availability of criminal records. Employers can now download records from the internet for only a small cost. According to one study, at least 39% of jobs in the state are restricted in some way based on criminal history. There are also bans and restrictions based on criminal conviction for certain types of job, such as security guards, bartenders, nurses, and teachers, and for certain workplace locations, such as schools, seaports, and nursing homes.

Additionally, many occupations, such as nurse, private investigator, notary public, or motor vehicle dealer, require licensing. Professional licenses can be restricted or denied based on criminal convictions. This may be as a result of state law or may be the decision of a private licensing board. There may also be denial of some government benefits, such as grants, licenses, and contracts, and even the denial food stamps for those convicted of drug offenses.

Other Consequences

Convictions can have other consequences as well. Among these, conviction of a felony requires that the offender register in the state where he or she resides. Violation of this requirement is a crime and can result in imprisonment. Penalty enhancements may also occur if the defendant has been convicted of a prior crime. For example, Florida has a minimum sentencing law that mandates longer minimum sentences for defendants who have been convicted of prior crimes. Furthermore, a criminal record may make it more difficult to be admitted to a college or university, as these institutions increasingly use criminal background checks in the admissions process.

Criminal conviction has many more repercussions than just incarceration or a fine. A criminal record can change a person’s whole life. If you are facing a criminal conviction, an experienced lawyer can be an essential tool to help mitigate the challenges that a criminal record poses. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.