What happens when someone is convicted of a crime? We’ve all seen it on the news – the Court imposes a sentence which could include jail time, fines, restitution, community service and/or probation. These are the direct consequences of a conviction. But what never makes it on to TV is that convictions often trigger additional sanctions that go beyond the judge’s sentence. Collateral consequences of the conviction can be serious, and sometimes have a longer lasting and more profound impact than the sentence imposed by the judge.
A conviction can lead to the loss of many rights and privileges even if the offense was minor. For example, many of our clients are employed by the US government or federal contractors. Their jobs often require a security clearance. A conviction of any kind can disqualify them for a clearance and jeopardize their professional career and seriously diminish their earning potential for the rest of their lives.
Other serious negative fallout from a conviction can include deportation, loss of the right to own a firearm, revocation of a drivers license, disqualification for welfare benefits and student loans, loss of voting rights and even have a negative effect on child visitation and custody rights. These collateral consequences can last indefinitely and sometime require a person to go back to court years later to convince a judge to restore their rights.
The American Bar Association has put together a database of collateral consequences for every state. To see the list of collateral consequences in Maryland, click here. If you have any questions or if you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, you can give us a call at (410) 535-6100 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.