When most people consider the consequences of a criminal conviction, they focus on the sentence imposed by a judge—incarceration, fines or probation.
But the consequences of a criminal conviction can go far beyond the sentence.
Collateral consequences of a crime refers to consequences that are not part of the criminal sentence but nevertheless result from the conviction.
For many, the most significant collateral consequence involves restrictions on employment. Specifically, those convicted of certain crimes are prohibited by a West Virginia law from working some jobs in education, human services and similar professions. Many employers are also reluctant to hire those with criminal convictions.
Immigration is another potential collateral consequence that can have devastating impacts on a person’s life. Federal immigration law requires deportation of a non-citizen convicted of certain crimes, including most violent crimes, drug offenses and crimes involving moral turpitude.
A person convicted of certain violent or drug-related crimes is often prohibited from possessing a firearm, frequently for life. Those convicted of a felony also cannot vote in West Virginia until they have done their time, including probation or parole.
A felony conviction can also impact a person’s eligibility for some public benefits, including public housing and student loans in some cases.
Speak with an attorney
If accused of a crime, it is critical to speak with an experienced attorney to understand your rights and all possible defenses. In addition to assisting with your defense, an attorney can advise on potential collateral consequences of a conviction and may be able to structure any plea agreement or sentence to avoid certain collateral consequences.