Most people understand that being convicted of a criminal offense will result in punishment – as imposing penalties is one of the core elements of criminal law. Criminal penalties determined by the court and applicable sentencing guidelines can vary widely, but generally include terms of imprisonment, community service, fines, and probation.
While these are among the most concerning and immediate repercussions convicted offenders will face, and although they are nothing to be taken lightly, many individuals facing criminal allegations fail to grasp the comprehensive and profound consequences they will face in the future should they be convicted of a crime.
In many situations, criminal penalties can be overcome with time and a positive attitude. The various collateral consequences that result, however, can lead to long-term, if not life-long, limitations and restrictions – which are created by the government and by society. It's why having a seasoned criminal defense attorney on your side is so important.
Understanding "Other" Repercussions
Understanding the types of repercussions convicted offenders face in the United States can aid those who stand accused of a crime in understanding that, often, their life is at stake. Collateral repercussions have the ability to follow convicted offenders throughout their life, impeding their ability to enjoy the full breadth of freedoms held by American citizens and limiting their ability to function without restrictions in society. While the nature of a crime, the specific charge, a defendant's criminal record, and a number of other circumstances will hold bearing on the long-term collateral repercussions they will face, it is safe to say that many convicted offenders encounter consequences that extend far beyond imprisonment, fines, and probation.
While not part of the direct consequences of a conviction, collateral consequences can lead to additional repercussions in the form of losing a professional license, losing the privilege of receiving certain government benefits, losing the right to vote and serve jury duty, and others. Additionally, convicted offenders may find that hidden fees and expenses will haunt them for long periods of time, especially in the case of DUI offenders who are forced to pay higher insurance premiums. Sexual offenders are required to register as a convicted sex offender, doctors who commit fraud can lose their ability to practice, convicted felons will be unable to vote, some countries may prevent convicted offenders from visiting their country, and more. The list can go on and on.
The social, emotional, and financial effects of these and other collateral consequences can verge on the edge of devastation. Some social critics have even gone as far as referring to collateral consequences of criminal convictions as social or "civil death," and for some convicted offenders, this term is all too true. Most significantly, convicted offenders will find that their record limits the opportunities they have in life, particularly when it comes to employment and finding a job. Such barriers to opportunity can prevent those who truly want to change and turn their lives around from ever getting started. In fact, many sociologists attribute recidivism, or returning to a life of crime and incarceration, largely to the fact that convicted offenders have limited opportunities for employment. While collateral consequences are a subject of much debate and while there are many advocates that push for change, the fact remains that as these problems entail profound matters of societal views and opinion, collateral repercussions are real and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future.
Take the Steps Needed to Protect Your Future
The Hammer Law Firm, LLC is a different type of firm for the reason that we truly understand the numerous and profound consequences convicted offenders will face in their future. Regardless of what the charge may be, our St. Louis criminal defense attorneys treat every case as if our clients' lives were at stake. We want them to avoid or reduce criminal penalties as much as possible, but we also know that we have the ability to protect their future. If you or your loved one is currently facing a criminal allegation, please do not allow yourself to believe that a conviction is without consequences. Take the steps needed to protect your future and contact our firm today.