Direct consequences of criminal convictions include lengthy incarceration, high fines, and extended court supervision. Eventually, however, the cell doors open, fines are paid off, and court supervision ends. The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, om the other hand, either don’t end as quickly or don’t end at all. Attorneys must warn defendants about the direct consequences. This requirement doesn’t apply to collateral consequences, at least in most cases.
A good Marietta criminal defense attorney not only warns defendants about collateral consequences. A good lawyer does something about them. Deferred disposition is one example. If these defendants successfully complete probation, they do not have conviction records, at least for most purposes. Other remedies include record sealing, record expungement, and executive pardon. Additionally, a Marietta criminal defense attorney helps clients know what to say when such questions arise. Usually, if the individual has a reasonable explanation for what happened, the conviction is overlooked.
Student Aid Eligibility
Criminal convictions could have a direct or indirect effect on student aid eligibility. For example, incarcerated students are ineligible for student loans and Pell Grants. They’re also effectively ineligible for Federal Work-Study (FWS) Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Incarcerated individuals cannot interview for on-campus jobs. Furthermore, Pell Grant recipients get priority for FSEOG money.
Incarceration at the time of application is all that counts. If Terry is scheduled to be released next spring and hopes to attend college in the fall, he must apply for student aid the previous fall, while he’s still locked up. Therefore, Terry must probably wait until the following fall to apply for student aid.
Technically, prior criminal convictions for non-incarcerated individuals do not affect government student aid eligibility. However, people with such convictions usually must go to the end of the line. Who knows how much money will be available by the time their names are called. Private scholarships usually make their own rules.
On a related note, criminal convictions often lead to campus disciplinary hearings. These hearings could result in no action, a slap on the wrist, or expulsion.
We mentioned reasonable explanations above. Frequently, when a Marietta criminal defense attorney advocates for students at these hearings, they offer such explanations. The before-and-after approach often works well. When the defendant was convicted, s/he had a substance abuse problem, was living in a bad environment, or whatever. Now, s/he’s overcome that disability or relocated to a better environment.
This effect may seem inconsequential. In 2020, the U.S. voter turnout rate was barely above 60 percent, ranking the United States 31st out of fifty surveyed countries. The pathetic thing is that figure is higher than it’s been in a generation.
However, there’s a difference between choosing not to vote and not being able to vote. Furthermore, the voting restriction often makes people feel like outsiders. When their friends talk about who they voted for, convicted felons must stay silent.
Criminal convictions do not affect property ownership rights, except for areas like firearm ownership. However, as mentioned, private banks, owners, and other organizations usually make their own rules. Many financial institutions don’t loan money to people who have committed certain offenses, like a crime of moral turpitude. One of the most common CMT definitions is “Anything done knowingly contrary to justice, honesty, principle, or good morals.” That standard could apply to almost any crime. So, if you committed any crime, a private organization could well define it as a CMT.
Property leasing could be an issue as well. Frequently, landlords don’t rent to people with certain criminal convictions. A Marietta criminal defense lawyer might be able to challenge the restriction in court, but winning this battle is an uphill fight, to say the least.
Professional License Restriction
Most people try to get better jobs in an effort to put their criminal pasts in their rearview mirrors. We mentioned some student aid issues above. So, college may not be in the cards, at least right away. Additionally, a professional license might be out of reach, even if the individual otherwise qualifies for it.
These rules are usually absolute bars. No matter how good the individual’s explanation may be, the answer is usually “no.”
We say “usually” because sometimes criminal records fall off permanent records, at least for some purposes.
A criminal conviction could affect a divorce, child custody, or other proceeding if the conviction is relevant to the case at hand.
Assume Bill was convicted of DUI and subsequently files a court case to get legal custody of his children. The DUI could be relevant. This offense often indicated that the individual has trouble controlling his/her impulses and s/he is prone to making bad decisions. However, Bill’s lawyer could argue that the conviction has no bearing on his parenting abilities and might prejudice jurors against him. So, it’s a toss-up.
Now assume Bill was convicted of DUI with a child passenger. The child endangerment add-on most likely makes this prior conviction relevant. In criminal court, prior DUIs are only admissible for sentencing purposes for ten years. However, these convictions are admissible in civil court forever. Obviously, the older the conviction is, the less relevant it is.
On a related civil court note, prior convictions usually mean no jury duty. Much like voting rights, this loss may not seem like a big deal. However, the loss could make convicted felons feel like outsiders and serve as a permanent reminder of the mistake they made.
CMTs, which were discussed above, could also lead to deportation proceedings. So could an aggravated felony conviction. There is no set definition for either phrase. Instead, a disqualifying offense is basically whatever the State Department says it is.
Some CMT exceptions apply, like the petty offense exception. The CMT doesn’t count if the maximum punishment was less than one year in jail and the defendant served less than six months. Additionally, individuals must usually commit multiple CMTs before deportation proceedings commence, unless the individual committed a CMT in the first five years after entry.
We mentioned deferred disposition, and its effect on a criminal conviction record, above. Deportation is one of the exceptions. Usually, a conviction is a conviction, whether or not the judge officially found the defendant guilty.
The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are often worse than the direct consequences. For a free consultation with an experienced Marietta criminal defense attorney, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. Convenient payment plans are available.