Consequences of a Conviction: Beyond Incarceration and Fines

Being convicted of a crime can carry serious penalties. For example, a person who is found guilty of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance will be convicted of a Class G felony, which is punishable by up to 51 months in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. After the individual is released from prison, although they have carried out the terms of their sentence, their conviction could still haunt them well into the future, as there are collateral consequences that go beyond sentencing.

Collateral consequences are not issued by the court at the time of sentencing. Rather they are civil penalties that are governed by state and/or federal laws. They could affect a person’s ability to secure employment, housing, or federally funded assistance, which could make reentry into society difficult.

Below are a few of the potential impacts of a conviction on a person’s future:

Effects on Employment

A large number of companies review a candidate’s background before making a hiring decision. If an employer sees a conviction on a person’s criminal record, they may not hire the individual. In 2017, the National Association for Professional Background Screeners commissioned HR.com to conduct a survey of over 1,500 employers to determine their thoughts about background screenings. Of those surveyed, 96% said they conducted a background check on potential employees, with 89% citing that the reason for the screening was to ensure the safety of current employees and customers.

Aside from affecting hiring decisions, a conviction could also render a person ineligible for government assistance such as unemployment benefits. The individual could be denied for, or disqualified from, benefits if they were arrested for or convicted of several different offenses, including sex crimes, violent crimes, or drug offenses.

A person’s professional license or certificate could also be affected by a conviction. An individual in certain cosmetology occupations, such as a barber or massage therapist, could have their license revoked or denied if they were convicted of any felony. Similarly, a real estate broker could have their license suspended or revoked if they were convicted of an offense involving deceit or fraud.

Effects on Housing

Being able to find housing, or even move back into a previous home, could be difficult for an individual found guilty of a crime. If they were convicted of an offense that puts the health or safety of others at risk, they could be evicted from their residential rental property or be ineligible for federally for assisted housing, such as privately owned subsidized housing, public housing, and the housing voucher program.

Additionally, an individual may not be allowed into federally assisted housing if they were convicted of a sexual offense that requires them to register as a sex offender.

Effects on Government Aid for Education

A person convicted of certain types of crimes may be ineligible for government aid to pay for higher education. If they were found guilty of engaging in a riot, inciting a riot, or unlawfully seizing or occupying a building, their state-funded scholarships or grants for state universities will be revoked.

If the conviction resulted in a prison sentence, they may be ineligible for federal student aid. Eligibility could also be suspended if they were convicted of a drug or sex crime.

Effects on Federal Food Assistance Programs

A person convicted of a Class H or I drug offense could be barred from participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Their eligibility may be reinstated six months after the conviction or the completion of their prison sentence.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh

The consequences of a conviction are far-reaching and can seriously affect a person’s wellbeing. That is why our attorneys fight hard to get charges reduced or dropped to minimize the impacts on an individual’s future. If you were accused of an offense, we can provide the legal representation you need.

To get started on your case, call us at (919) 887-8040 or contact us online.