Collateral Consequences from a Criminal Record

Here at North Star Criminal Defense, we pride ourselves on delivering a personalized legal strategy for each client. In order to do that, it is critical to understand what’s at stake. This means analyzing the possible collateral consequences from any criminal record. Collateral consequences are the consequences beyond the terms and conditions of a criminal sentence, which is the custody time, fine, probation, etc. It is what happens to a client in their personal life as a result of the criminal record. So, let’s take a look at the more common collateral consequences we encounter when advocating for our clients.

Common Collateral Consequences from a Criminal Record

  • Employment – The most pressing collateral consequence is how a criminal record could impact a person’s career. Many employers run background checks on their employees on a regular basis, including as often as annually. In these instances, the new criminal record could lead to being terminated from their existing job. Understanding how a criminal conviction for the charged offense – or to a plea for an amended charge – is critical in order to truly develop a sound case strategy. We often recommend our clients to review any employee handbooks, talk with a manager (if they know about the criminal case or would be favorable to talk it over with), or otherwise figure out how the case will impact their job, if at all.
  • Professional Licensing – Similarly, some jobs require professional licenses which are subject to oversight by the government or a third-party entity. In either case, it is not uncommon for criminal records to be disqualifying for the person to continue holding their license and, subsequently, their job. The most common example we encounter is when someone is licensed by the Department of Human Services – such as a personal care assistant. In this example, many crimes lead to disqualification for 7 years or even their lifetime, depending on the severity of the crime.
  • Immigration – If the client is not a United States citizen, we must find out how the criminal case will impact their immigration status in this country. We almost always require our clients to consult with an immigration attorney to get an opinion letter about how the case and the possible consequences will impact their status in the country. Some crimes, such as domestic assault, can lead to automatic deportation. Obviously knowing that a conviction could lead to deportation is critical when formulating the best case strategy.
  • Education – For our clients still pursuing educational goals, a criminal record can wreak havoc on their ability to finish their program and/or find a job upon graduation. We have often been advised that a client who is in the midst of obtaining an advanced degree cannot finish school or the necessary internships due to a criminal record. For programs that are multiple years long, it can be a devastating consequence to be unable to complete it due to a criminal case.
  • Firearm Rights – Convictions to certain offense result in a loss of firearm rights. A person convicted of a crime of violence is barred from possessing firearms again. Any domestic assault conviction also bars someone from possessing a firearm. And these firearm rights can be forfeited during the pendency of a case when a person is on conditional release after their arrest. And, finally, anyone tagged with a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order is also precluded from possessing firearms.
  • Civil Rights – When someone is convicted of a felony, they lose their civil rights – most notably, their right to vote – while they are on probation. These civil rights are restored, though, upon completion of probation.
  • Property Forfeiture – Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, law enforcement may be able to pursue forfeiture of your property, including a motor vehicle or cash. For instance, it is not uncommon for overzealous cops to forfeit lawfully obtained cash if they can claim it is somehow related to an underlying drug charge. Fighting these forfeitures is not easy and often a significant collateral consequence to a charge.
  • Driving Privileges – Convictions to certain crimes can lead to a loss of your driving privileges. For instance, the most common case is a revocation following a DWI conviction. But this can occur just from traffic ticket convictions, too. A person with multiple tickets in a short period of time could lose their license. Or, if there is a conviction to a certain type of traffic ticket – such as speeding over 100 mph – then the person may lose their license for just that one conviction.
  • Travel – It is not uncommon for a condition of release in felony cases to preclude a person from traveling outside the state without first obtaining court approval. This can often be incorporated into a term of probation, too. Similarly, a DWI conviction bars entry into Canada. So a full defense for a defendant requires understanding their future travel plans, or possibly future job promotions or projects that may take them to Canada, for instance.

These are the most common examples of collateral consequences. But, each client is unique and may have a collateral consequence not listed, such as concerns over how a record will impact their ability to volunteer, serve on a leadership board, adopt a child, affect their pending divorce case or civil lawsuit, etc. And if these collateral consequences occur and persist following a criminal conviction, pursuing an expungement may be the best option to move forward with your life.

The Importance of Developing a Personalized Legal Strategy by your Minnesota Criminal Attorney

As you can probably see, it is absolutely critical to carefully analyze the collateral consequences applicable to your case. There is almost always some form of a collateral consequence in play. Only after understanding what’s at stake (or eliminating the existence of any collateral consequence if you’re lucky) can you properly develop a sound criminal defense strategy. That is why we always work with each client to develop a personalized legal strategy for them.


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