Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions
Most people are aware some of the direct consequences that come from a criminal conviction. These consequences include things like jail time, fines, probation, and community service requirements. Additionally, there are many other collateral consequences that criminal convictions may carry. We took some time to briefly touch on some of the main secondary consequences of criminal convictions in North Carolina.
The Right to Vote
In North Carolina, you cannot vote while you are incarcerated or on probation for a felony criminal conviction. You can vote as a convicted felon only after you have completed your sentence/probation. Voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of all supervised release. Ex-offenders will need to re-register to vote.
Most individuals convicted of a felony cannot own firearms in North Carolina. If they are caught with a firearm, they will be charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, which is a felony in and of itself. Gun rights can sometimes eventually be restored for certain non-violent felony convictions through a court order or an expunction.
Criminal Background Checks
Most background checks show not only criminal convictions, but criminal charges that were dismissed. It is important to note that not all background checks are created equally and the detail of the check will depend upon the specific background check. Different employers and agencies will utilize different background checks.
Your mugshots and arrest/charge information are a matter of public record and do not go away even if you are acquitted or your case is dismissed. While an expunction will remove the record of your arrest from government agency’s databases, it will not scrub the internet clean.
Many professions such as doctor, nurse, lawyer, or teacher have independent and strict regulations regarding criminal charges and convictions. A criminal conviction can have serious consequences on one’s professional licensure or ability to obtain a professional license. For those already licensed at the time of their conviction, these consequences range from a warning, censure, or probation all the way to losing the professional license. You will need to be familiar with the ethical requirements of your profession to understand how a criminal charge or conviction can affect your professional license and the privileges that come with it.
Sex Offender Registry
Certain sex offenses require the offender to register as a sex offender. This is a huge undertaking and can last for the remainder of the persons life. We will discuss the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry in a blog at a later date.
Federal Assistance and Student Loans
Most felony convictions limit a person’s right to obtain government assistance such as housing, food stamps, and student loans.
This is perhaps one of the most daunting categories of collateral consequences because the consequences can be so severe. This is a complicated and nuanced area of law. We discussed some of the the immigration consequences of criminal convictions in another blog.
As you can see, the consequences of a criminal conviction extend well beyond the courtroom and can be lifelong. If you have been charged with a state or federal crime in North Carolina or South Carolina, contact Gilles Law to speak with a criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and your options.