Sometimes, consequences for a guilty plea may be worse than the actual sentences for a conviction.
I listen to your situation and discuss possible consequences. Criminal convictions have two types of consequences: direct and collateral.
Direct consequences: the actual punishment for the conviction, which includes jail time, probation, fines, a driver’s license suspension (in DUI cases), and anything else a court may impose.
Collateral consequences: those which are not set in the punishment, but result from another, independent legal mechanism. Examples of collateral consequences include sex offender registration and the prohibition of firearms possession for felons. Some, like the sex offender registration, are offense-specific. Others apply to a class of convicted persons, most commonly those convicted of felonies.
Convictions of specific or general crimes, both misdemeanors, and felonies, may impact your rights and privileges. Felonies, which are by nature more serious and carry more serious penalties, lead to many severe collateral consequences, especially regarding government programs. I can help you understand ways to reinstate your rights and privileges. Depending on the facts of your case, convictions may impact several rights and privileges:
- Pistol permits. Felony convictions bar a person from possessing a firearm in Connecticut. In addition, some misdemeanor convictions disqualify a person from obtaining a pistol permit. Those include convictions for drug possession, negligent homicide, certain assaults, threatening, unlawful restraint, rioting, and breach of peace.
- Driver’s license. In addition to a court-imposed suspension, the Department of Motor Vehicles may administratively suspend the license of persons convicted of DUI and also minors convicted of alcohol or marijuana possession, even though these are actually lesser offenses than misdemeanors.
- Employment. Private employers may ask job applicants whether they have been convicted of a crime (including misdemeanors) and in some situations use that information in making hiring decisions.
- Student loans. Pursuant to 20 U.S.C. 1091(r), a person convicted of any drug offense may be denied federal student loans.
- Voting rights. In Connecticut, an incarcerated felon loses voting rights but those rights may be reinstated after the sentence is served.
- Firearm possession. Federal law and most states’ laws prohibit felons from possessing firearms.
- Licenses. Many professional licenses, ranging from barbering to the practice of law, may be revoked, suspended or refused upon conviction of a felony.
- Housing. Government housing authorities may prohibit felons from living in their properties (even if not the actual tenants) and in some circumstances, private landlords may evict or refuse to rent to felons.
- Government social insurance programs. Benefits such as SNAP and WIC can be denied or restricted due to drug convictions.
- Sex offender registration.
- Education. As stated above, drug convictions may make a person ineligible for federal student aid.
This list provides only a sample of the consequences resulting from a conviction. Many other state and federal laws and regulation may lead to further consequences and restrictions. Please contact me to discuss the specifics of your case, and I will work with you to help you avoid or minimize these consequences.