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Collateral consequences: Thinking beyond a court-imposed sentence

Many people who are facing a criminal charge tend to focus on the court-imposed penalties. These include punitive consequences like incarceration or fines. While this is certainly an important consideration, it shouldn't be the only thing you think about.

There are other ramifications that you face when you are convicted of a crime. These are sometimes referred to as collateral consequences. They can have a significant impact on your life even after the court-imposed penalties are completed.

The classification of conviction matters

Not all convictions are the same. The classification of your criminal conviction is a big factor regarding the type of collateral consequences you face.

If you are convicted of a felony, you are going to face more severe collateral consequences than if you are convicted of a misdemeanor. The type of crime also matters as you might experience greater collateral consequences for a violent crime than you would for other types of crimes.

Employment opportunities might be limited

Many jobs require a criminal background check. You may find that it is difficult to get certain jobs if a background check is required. Of course, there are some companies that willingly give people with criminal records a chance to prove that they are trustworthy. However, these opportunities may be difficult to find, and they might be entry-level jobs. You would also face the possibility of being limited on government contracts and publicly-held offices.

Housing prospects might be sparse

Just like many job opportunities require a criminal background check, so do some housing options. Many rental properties use criminal background checks and might have a specific list of convictions that would bar a person from renting. Short of owning your own home, you might find that your housing prospects are sparse simply because of this factor.

Other social consequences

Fines and driver's license suspensions can make it hard to live your life in a normal manner. The same is true of the conditions of probation if you are placed on probation as part of your conviction.

When you are dealing with a criminal charge, it is important to work hard on your defense and have the strongest possible representation. Even if you think you are going to be convicted of a crime, you can still focus your defense on trying to minimize the penalties, including collateral consequences, that you face.

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