Criminal Charges and Collateral Consequences

Criminal Charges and Collateral ConsequencesThe aftermath of criminal charges can extend far beyond the courtroom, affecting a variety of aspects of an individual’s life. While the immediate focus of criminal defense often centers on legal consequences such as fines, probation, or incarceration, collateral consequences can be equally, if not more, powerful. Today we want to take a look at some of the challenges you may face after being convicted of a crime.

Employment challenges

One of the most significant collateral consequences of criminal charges lies in employment. A criminal record can cast a long shadow over an individual’s professional life, affecting their ability to secure gainful employment, advance in their career, or even find work at all.

Limited job opportunities

Employers routinely conduct background checks during the hiring process. A criminal record may result in an automatic disqualification or bias against the applicant, limiting the pool of available job opportunities. Certain professions, such as those in finance, healthcare, or childcare, may impose strict restrictions on hiring individuals with criminal records.

Professional licenses and certifications

For individuals in regulated professions, the consequences can be even more profound. Many licensing boards have stringent requirements regarding criminal convictions. A person with a criminal record may find their aspirations to become a licensed professional, such as a nurse, lawyer, or real estate agent, obstructed by these regulations.

Employment discrimination

Despite efforts to curb discrimination based on criminal history, it is still an issue. The stigma attached to a criminal record can result in subtle or overt discrimination, making it challenging for individuals to reintegrate into the workforce successfully.

Housing instability

Securing stable housing is another area where the collateral consequences of criminal charges can affect one’s life. Landlords often conduct background checks on prospective tenants, and a criminal record can be a red flag that leads to denial of housing.

Rental discrimination

Individuals with criminal records may encounter difficulties securing rental properties, especially in competitive housing markets. Landlords may view them as potential liabilities, leading to discrimination in the rental application process.

Public housing restrictions

For those reliant on public housing, criminal charges can trigger eviction or exclusion from certain housing programs. Federal law allows public housing authorities to deny admission to individuals with certain criminal convictions, creating a cycle of housing instability for those already facing numerous challenges.

Family disruptions

The effects of housing instability can extend beyond the individual to their family. Families may be uprooted, and children may face disruptions in their education and social lives, creating a ripple effect of consequences for those connected to the individual with the criminal record.

Family dynamics

Criminal charges can also strain familial relationships, leading to emotional, financial, and practical challenges for both the individual charged and their loved ones.

Parental rights and custody battles

A criminal record can become an important factor in child custody disputes. Courts may consider a parent’s criminal history when determining the best interests of the child, potentially leading to restrictions on visitation rights or even the loss of custody.

Impact on spousal relationships

The strain on spousal relationships is also a collateral consequence. Legal troubles can contribute to heightened stress, financial difficulties, and emotional strain, potentially leading to divorce.

Financial struggles

The financial toll of criminal charges can also affect the entire family. Legal fees, fines, and other associated costs can strain the family budget, affecting both the individual charged and their dependents.

Civic participation

Criminal charges can curtail an individual’s civic rights and participation in various aspects of society, ranging from voting to serving on a jury.

Voting restrictions

Here in Franklin, Tennessee, individuals with felony convictions face restrictions on their right to vote. This disenfranchisement, even if temporary, raises questions about the fundamental principles of democracy and representation.

Jury service limitations

Criminal charges can affect an individual’s eligibility to serve on a jury. Many areas impose disqualifications or restrictions based on the severity of the charges or the type of criminal conviction.

Limited educational opportunities

Access to education may also be restricted by criminal charges. Certain convictions may disqualify individuals from receiving financial aid or scholarships, limiting their ability to pursue higher education and improve their future prospects.

Psychological and social issues

Beyond these tangible consequences, the psychological and social impact of criminal charges can be demoralizing. The stigma associated with a criminal record may result in isolation, mental health challenges, and difficulties in reintegrating into society.

Social stigma and isolation

Individuals with criminal records often face societal judgment and ostracism. This social stigma can contribute to feelings of isolation, making it challenging to rebuild a support network.

Mental health challenges

The stress and anxiety associated with criminal charges can take a toll on mental health. The fear of judgment, the uncertainty of the future, and the societal perception of individuals with criminal records contribute to mental health challenges, requiring attention and support.

Rehabilitation and reintegration

Recognizing the importance of rehabilitation, society is gradually shifting towards rehabilitation-focused approaches rather than punitive ones. Rehabilitation programs, including counseling, job training, and community service, can play an important role in supporting individuals with criminal records as they work toward reintegration.

Legal reforms and second chances

In recognizing these consequences of criminal charges, legal reforms are in place to help strike a balance between accountability and the opportunity for rehabilitation.

Expungement and record sealing

Expungement and record sealing are legal tools that can mitigate the collateral consequences of criminal charges. Expungement involves erasing or sealing a criminal record, providing individuals with a fresh start. However, the availability of these remedies varies by the nature of the offense – some crimes, such as sex crimes, may not be able to be expunged. Some crimes may be eligible for pardons.

Ban the Box initiatives

Ban the Box” initiatives aim to remove questions about criminal history from job applications, delaying these inquiries until later in the hiring process. These initiatives seek to provide individuals with criminal records a fair chance to be evaluated based on their qualifications before their criminal history is considered. The state of Tennessee is one of 37 states that has adopted a “ban the box” policy.

Reentry programs and support services

Reentry programs and support services are also important components of helping individuals transition back into society. These programs may include job training, counseling, and housing assistance, addressing the root causes of criminal behavior and helping with successful reintegration.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is crucial to get an experienced Franklin criminal defense attorney on your side as soon as possible to mitigate the risks of collateral consequences. At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we want to provide a strong defense for your case. Call us today or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation. We’re proud to serve clients in Franklin, Brentwood, Columbia, and throughout Middle Tennessee.