If you are formally charged with a crime there are four possible outcomes to your case. First, the charge can be dismissed completely. Second, you enter a diversion program if you are eligible and your charges will be dismissed if you successfully complete the program. Third, you can receive a Withhold of Adjudication. Fourth, you can receive an Adjudication of Guilt. Depending on which of the four outcomes applies to you will determine what, if any, collateral consequences you will face some time in the future. When I say some time in the future that can mean in 6 months or 6 years. This obviously does not talk about the immediate or direct consequences to the outcome of your case. I would like to introduce you to some of the collateral consequences I am talking about.
Your criminal case could affect your ability to obtain certain kinds of housing in the future. Some examples include the ability to qualify for subsidized housing or the ability to qualify for a lease for certain kinds of property. Another thing to be mindful of is, if a person is in the middle of a housing lease, how will the outcome of their criminal case affect their ability to renew their lease?
EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION
Certain outcomes in criminal cases can affect whether or not an individual with a criminal record can apply for certain jobs. I often get the question “I am filling out a job application – do I need to tell them about my criminal case?” Think also about applying for college or trade school or for financial aid. The outcome of your criminal case in some cases may need to be divulged. That same outcome can mean the difference between acceptance and denial.
The outcome of your criminal case could possibly be used against you by a former spouse or a former partner regarding contact that you have with minor children. A felony conviction can be used against you to limit your contact with children or impose conditions on that contact. In addition, if you are living with or spending time with an individual who has children with a former spouse or partner then the outcome of your criminal case could affect whether or not you can have contact with their children.
The outcome of your criminal case could affect your ability to have a valid drivers license. Obviously convictions for Driving Under The Influence has licensing consequences. What people need to know is that a conviction for drug offenses, some theft offenses and fleeing and eluding can also result in a loss of your drivers license. I do not need to tell anyone reading this who lives in Central Florida about our public transportation system.
The outcome of your criminal case can also dramatically affect your legal status in this country if you are not a citizen of the United States. In fact one thing a Judge must advise all people of during a plea colloquy is that their plea could result in deportation if they are not a United States citizen.
These are just some of the collateral consequences I am talking about. This is certainly not an exhaustive list but instead is meant to make a person think about how their decisions today can come back to haunt them in years to come. For more information about this topic and to discuss your case contact me anytime and I can help.