In New York, facing criminal charges can be intimidating in myriad ways. The prospect of a conviction with the potential for incarceration, fines and a criminal record come to the forefront of a person’s fears whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. However, there are other consequences they should be aware of as they try to resolve the case.
Specifically, people tend to forget about what is referred to as “collateral consequences.” These are obstacles that tend to arise even if the defendant finds a plea bargain offered by the prosecution to be acceptable or is convicted of the crime with moderate penalties. This should be considered when forging a defense.
What are collateral consequences?
Collateral consequences are sometimes called “invisible punishments” because people do not account for them during their case. Being convicted of a crime will appear on background checks. It can negatively impact certain parts of living in society. Trying to advance in life can be hindered by it.
For example, when a person is trying to get a job, the conviction can show up during the process. If they are trying to get work as a commercial driver, a conviction for driving under the influence could stop them from being hired. It can be problematic when searching for housing, getting city and state benefits, trying to become an American citizen, being admitted to schools or the military and applying for student loans.
A criminal defense should factor in collateral consequences
These problems can arise even for misdemeanors that generally do not warrant harsh penalties. People who could be relieved to be offered what seems to be a reasonable plea agreement from the prosecution need to know what can still happen to them in the aftermath.
The circumstances of the arrest, the possible punishments and collateral consequences need to be fully understood when devising a strategy for criminal defense. The entire case must be scrutinized when choosing how to proceed and having a firm grasp on all the potential outcomes is key from the outset.