There is a mistaken belief sometimes that you are convicted of a crime and serve your sentence, then you will have paid your debt to society – and that’s the end of it. But that is far from the end. Collateral consequences surely exist, which are separate from any direct ones you may face from pleading guilty or being convicted in court. If you are accused of a crime, it’s important to understand the full scope of what a conviction really means for your future, including the collateral consequences involved. For instance, direct consequences of a criminal conviction are obvious. They include normal penalties such as imprisonment, probation, community service, fines and restitution. Once these consequences have been satisfied or paid in full, then you can move on from them – it’s the collateral consequences of a conviction that tend to follow you around for a longer time.
If you are convicted of a crime in New York, you may face a variety of collateral consequences, some of which can be as devastating and impactful as the direct consequences. Some examples of collateral consequences include limitations on housing, employment, unemployment benefits, immigration status, parental rights, voting rights, and ability to own a firearm. For instance, if you live in or need to live in federally subsidized housing, then you can be denied because of a criminal conviction. Even local public housing offices and independent landlords may have restrictions in place that will not allow anyone with a prior criminal conviction to live in one of their units. And Section 8 housing is included in this.
Also, New York is an at-will employment state, which basically means that your employer can fire you at any time for no reason at all – which can include a criminal conviction or missed work due to your legal issues.
Additionally, it may not be possible for you to work at a job for the State of New York or the federal government. Although the laws have changed recently, employers will often do background checks, and it’s possible that any convictions you have can disqualify you from the potential job, no matter your qualifications.
Furthermore, professional licensures can be put in jeopardy if you have a criminal conviction, so it’s important to understand whether or not that applies to you.
Of course, if you are not a citizen, then a consequence of a criminal conviction may be that you are deported – or that you will not be able to apply for citizenship when you so desire.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is important to consul with an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, before you consider accepting a plea that will result in a criminal conviction.
Michael Jaccarino, and the criminal defense attorneys at Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, PC, have decades of experience.
For more information or more fact-specific discussions, call our office and ask to speak with attorney Michael Jaccarino.