February 07, 2020
Collateral consequences can outlast sentences
A person with a criminal history often finds that it impacts many areas of their life even after they’ve successfully completed their court-imposed sentences. These collateral consequences are sometimes more difficult to deal with than what the judge required them to do.
One collateral consequence that a previously incarcerated person might face is having to reintegrate into society. The truth is that anyone with a criminal record is likely going to deal with some negative repercussions.
Career impacts are a big hurdle for people to cross. Some criminal convictions label the person as a felon for life, which may disqualify them from holding certain jobs or from being hired by specific companies. Even when the felony conviction doesn’t have this effect, the nature of the crime itself may. It would be difficult to impossible to get a job in the financial industry if you’ve been convicted of fraud. A person with a drug conviction probably couldn’t hold certain jobs in the medical industry.
Housing is another area where these individuals might struggle. The increasing number of landlords who do background checks mean that there is a decrease in the number of places where a person with a criminal history can live. The lack of housing options could also make employment difficult since employers usually want employees who are stable and have their mailing addresses on file.
Transportation is another challenge, especially for those who have suspended drivers’ licenses or considerable fines. Obtaining a driver’s license is often the first step, but the person needs a job to be able to afford a vehicle and cover related expenses. Many employers require reliable transportation, which means the person may have trouble finding a job that enables them to earn the money they need.
The collateral consequences of criminal convictions must be a factor in defense strategy decisions. Not only do these strategic moves need to attempt to minimize court-imposed sentences, the defense may need to try to whittle down the collateral consequences.