Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

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As we mentioned in a prior blog posting, a criminal conviction remains on your record. This type of conviction can cause problems in a variety of situations. For example, those convicted of a criminal offense face challenges with job applications or applying for a new apartment.

Additionally, convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) remain on your California driving record for 10 years. Criminal convictions for DUI remain on your criminal record forever in the State of California. The only way to remove the conviction is to seal them through the process of expungement. Having a blemish on your criminal record is a huge hassle, even after completing your sentence.


Case Study in Criminal Convictions

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal highlights the plight of those criminally convicted. In this case, a man convicted of a criminal offense strikes out when looking for work.

This article details the plight of a convicted Ohio felon, Hashim Lowndes. When Mr. Lowndes applied for jobs after his release, he struggled. Unfortunately, upon his release, Mr. Lowndes had numerous “collateral consequences” of his felony drug conviction for trafficking cocaine.

According to the Journal, Mr. Lowndes may not “… vote, teach preschool, foster a child, operate a racetrack, cut hair, sit on a jury, provide hospice care, protect game, distribute bingo supplies, deal livestock, broker real estate—or, perhaps most salient to Mr. Lowndes, obtain a license to become a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning technician.”

However, there were other restrictions, as well. “…more than 500 [restrictions], scattered throughout Ohio’s laws…” However, for Mr. Lowndes, in his efforts to get his life back on track, it was the inability to get an HVAC license that was most important.

“I was scared about taking out a $20,000 loan for a certification that I wouldn’t be able to use,” Mr. Lowndes said.

The number of job restrictions for those with criminal convictions is discouraging. It is incredibly important for a convicted felon to get and maintain a solid job. According to the Journal’s article, “[r]esearch shows stable employment greatly reduces the chances of a person convicted of crime breaking the law again.” These job restrictions are a penalty that contributes to future arrests and convictions. Which, sadly, reinforces a painful circle that can be difficult to break.

46,000 Collateral Consequences 

The response to this dilemma has been slow. Furthermore, only a few states have created a process for convicted criminals to file court petitions to lift employment bans. Unfortunately, California is not one of them.

Worse yet, studies finding the collateral consequences of criminal convictions are just beginning. One of these studies, by the American Bar Association (ABA), has found more than 46,000 collateral consequences.

Approximately 60%-70% of these restrictions are solely on employment, according to Stephen Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University. Usually, it seems that many of these consequences surprise people. Many believe that once they serve their time, they are free to live their lives without restriction. Only, as of the today, Vermont is the one state with a law requiring criminal defendants to be informed of any collateral consequences they might face, should they plead guilty to a crime.

In the event that you face criminal charges, knowing the fines and jail time that you might face for a criminal conviction is extremely important. A conviction’s collateral consequences can be overwhelming, life-altering, and harsh. Moreover, a criminal conviction risks your freedom and future ability to earn. Review the ABA National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction (“NICCC”) for more details.

With this in mind, you should not face a criminal conviction alone. Work with the best criminal attorneys in California, we fight for your freedom. Call the Kavinoky Law Firm, at 1.800.NO.CUFFS, if you have any questions, or concerns.

John Devendorf
John Devendorf
John Devendorf is a California barred attorney and graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law. He writes on a range of legal topics including criminal law, immigration, and legal marketing. While he is not a member of The Kavinoky Law Firm, we share his legal insights on topics important to our clients.