Collateral Consequences – an Overview from a Guilford County Criminal Defense Attorney
Collateral Consequences are a Tangled Area of Law, Says Guilford County Criminal Defense Attorney
Unfortunately, a defendant convicted in criminal court can, essentially, be punished twice. First, there is the punishment that the court metes out: costs, fines, community service, probation, jail or prison. Second, there are what are called “collateral consequences,” consequences of a criminal conviction that can hurt a defendant outside of the criminal justice system. Here are some examples:
- A person convicted of a felony cannot vote. (But note, some more progressive politicians, such as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Governor Terry McAuliffe recently restored felons’ voting rights.)
- A person convicted of a felony or some domestic violence crimes, even misdemeanors cannot possess a firearm.
- A person convicted of even a misdemeanor drug offense can be denied Federal Section 8 Housing Assistance and Federal Student Aid, such as Pell Grants and school loans.
- Some crimes of so-called “moral turpitude” (these include, for example, to include misdemeanor assault on a female) constitute per se deportable offenses for which undocumented detained defendants are immediately slated for deportation by federal officials.
- Certain convictions, and even deferred prosecution agreements, will bar defendants from entering military service.
Collateral consequences are a tangled and complicated area of law. And the Court is not required to and often does not instruct individual defendants about the collateral consequences of their convictions. This makes it all the more important to consult an attorney.