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Collateral consequences: Byproducts of a felony conviction

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Criminal Defense

People who are facing felony charges have to think carefully about how to present their defense because a conviction may result in serious penalties. While some defendants are focused on concerns like incarceration and fines, they also need to factor in the consequences that extend beyond that may be handed down by the court.

Collateral consequences are those that arise as a result of a conviction, but that aren’t set as part of a person’s sentencing. These challenges can impact almost every aspect of a person’s life, sometimes for its remainder.

Loss of certain rights

A felony conviction bars people in Virginia from being able to hold a public office. They also can’t vote in elections. Possessing firearms and serving on a jury are also forbidden. These individuals may also lose access to public benefits programs. It’s sometimes possible to have the right to vote reinstated, but it requires a legal petition and isn’t guaranteed.

Employment challenges

Many employers conduct background checks. They may bypass applicants who have a criminal history. This limits the options the person has to earn a living, which makes financial stability and independence difficult. Some careers, such as law enforcement or healthcare, don’t allow felons to get the necessary certifications or licenses necessary.

Housing difficulties

Landlords and housing authorities might be unwilling to rent out homes to people who have a felony conviction. Background checks are often performed when a person applies to rent a home. Additionally, federal housing assistance programs often restrict people with certain felonies from being able to receive benefits. In some cases, the person can’t even move in with a family member because that family member risks losing their housing because of having a felon stay with them.

Understanding these collateral consequences is crucial for anyone facing a felony charge in Virginia. Thy highlight the importance of seeking legal guidance to develop a criminal defense strategy that addresses the risk of both immediate and long-term consequences. This should be done as early in the case as possible because some defense options might be time sensitive.

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