Being charged with a crime can profoundly impact one’s life. Beyond the fines and jail time that may come with criminal charges, a host of other consequences can cause far-reaching effects, just as direct penalties do.
The collateral consequences of criminal charges can vary widely depending on the nature of the offense and the individual’s personal circumstances.
Financial collateral damage
Criminal charges may lead to collateral damage that affects a person’s livelihood and professional career. Many employers conduct background checks on job candidates as part of the hiring process. A criminal conviction can make it challenging to find work. Even if one can secure employment, limited job options exist that hire those with a criminal record.
Additionally, for those in professions that require licensure to work (e.g., teachers, pharmacists, attorneys, doctors and nurses), criminal charges could lead to the loss of professional licenses. A revocation or suspension of these licenses effectively ends an individual’s career.
College students with criminal charges may lose their financial aid award from their school and could even risk expulsion.
Other direct and collateral damage of a criminal conviction may include immigration consequences, loss of voting rights, social stigma and suspension of a driver’s license. Even after completing their sentence, those with criminal records may face social stigma and discrimination. For example, if the crime was sexually motivated, the person may have to register as an offender for the rest of their life.
Criminal charges can cause collateral damage beyond hefty fines and jail time.