May 2018 - The Hidden Consequences of Crime

Criminal Background Check There’s a familiar proverb that cautions, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” But what many fail to understand is that the ‘time’ involves much more than the sentence imposed by a judge.

Incarceration, fines and probation are the obvious punishments for crime. Those who are convicted of, or plead guilty to, criminal charges, including misdemeanors, also face social consequences – the possible loss of a job, diminished standing in the community, loss of friends and family – and collateral consequences, which are additional penalties mandated by statute. These collateral consequences restrict and, in some cases, revoke the rights many of us take for granted.

For instance did you know that if, as a student receiving federal student aid, you are convicted of, or plead guilty to, a drug-related offense, you become ineligible for that aid?

Few people are made aware of the collateral consequences of their crime simply because there are too many consequences to consider. The National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction, a database launched by the American Bar Association in 2012, lists 109 pages – 1,088 entries – of collateral consequences pertaining to New Jersey alone.

Collateral consequences are dependent on the type and seriousness of the crime. The following list represents a small sampling of rights offenders can lose as a result of collateral consequences in New Jersey; it includes the right to . . .

  • Adopt or live in a home with an adopted child
  • Drive
  • Engage in certain employment or business opportunities
  • Enlist in the military
  • Fish and hunt
  • Hold certain professional licenses
  • Hold elected office
  • Join a volunteer fire department
  • Keep or obtain public housing
  • Maintain custody of your children
  • Possess firearms
  • Receive certain public assistance benefits
  • Serve on a Board of Education
  • Serve on a jury
  • Vote

Since many of these rights are integral to successful participation in society, it’s important to seek professional, legal advice and understand exactly what you’re up against if you’re ever faced with a criminal charge.

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