The consequences of a criminal conviction often go beyond the imposed sentence. In some cases, the collateral consequences of a conviction can be more severe than the direct consequences imposed by a judge at sentencing.
For that reason, it is important for those accused of a crime to understand the potential ramifications of a conviction.
Among the most significant collateral consequences of a conviction is the difficulty finding or maintaining employment.
For example, those convicted of certain crimes may be barred by law from working in certain professions, such as education, law enforcement or banking. Even if not barred by law, many employers are reluctant to hire people with a criminal conviction.
If a person is not an American citizen, a criminal conviction can carry severe immigration consequences.
For example, those convicted of certain felony or drug offenses face potential removal — often referred to as deportation — from the country. A conviction can also render a person ineligible to return to the United States in the future.
It is critical that any person not a citizen consult with an attorney to understand the immigration consequences of a conviction.
A criminal conviction can make it more difficult to find suitable housing. Many landlords are reluctant to rent to persons with convictions, especially for serious offenses.
Both federal and Rhode Island state law prohibit those convicted of certain crimes from possessing a firearm. In many cases, those restrictions apply for life and involve serious criminal consequences for noncompliance.
There are multiple other collateral consequences to a criminal conviction, including a prohibition on voting while incarcerated and limitations on the ability to serve on a jury. Federal law also places barriers to accessing public benefits for those with convictions for certain crimes.
Considering these and other consequences, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney if you are facing criminal charges.
An attorney can advise on your rights and potential defenses to criminal charges, as well as strategies for avoiding the direct and collateral consequences of a conviction.