A person who is convicted of a crime will have to deal with court-imposed penalties. They might believe that once they meet the requirements of those penalties, they will be done with the criminal matter, but this isn’t what’s likely going to happen. Instead, they will have to deal with collateral consequences of the conviction.
The collateral consequences that a person has to face are usually worse for those who have a felony conviction, but they aren’t absent for individuals who have a misdemeanor conviction. It’s imperative for anyone who is facing a criminal charge to understand not only the sentence they face but to also familiarize themselves with collateral consequences.
A roadblock for many
Unfortunately, the collateral consequences that some lawmakers and policymakers think protect society may actually contribute to recidivism. When a person finishes their court-imposed sentence, they might be prepared to live a law-abiding lifestyle but find it incredibly difficult because they are barred from holding certain jobs. Employers can balk at the idea of hiring a person who has a criminal history. This can make it difficult, if not impossible, for the person to be able to financially support themselves.
Lack of self-sufficiency can have a demoralizing impact on a person who’s trying to get their life together. They may believe that society feels they deserve to be punished for their past even though they’ve paid their debt to society. Lawmakers and those who handle policies for organizations and companies must work to find the balance between protecting the public and encouraging people who have a criminal conviction to live a life that’s productive and in line with laws.
Moving on despite collateral consequences
It’s essential to help people to move on with life despite the collateral consequences they face. Society as a whole should view people who have completed their sentences as individuals who are trying to better themselves. Programs for previously incarcerated people are a good start.
One option that people have is to fight the criminal charges they’re facing. Even in cases in which a not guilty finding isn’t likely, the defendant can focus on minimizing the penalties. Their attorney can present hopeful options. These might include plea deals or alternative sentencing programs for the crimes with which they’re charged.