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Collateral Consequences of a Conviction: "Please keep me from going to jail!"


Throughout my 32 years as a practicing attorney, I have heard defendants in criminal matters repeatedly make the same request: "Please keep me from going to jail!" However, incarceration may be the least of the worries of these individuals.

Collateral, or indirect consequences, of a criminal conviction can affect employment status, occupational licensing, education, loans, housing and even public/governmental benefits. Those who are not citizens of the United States can face deportation. During my 28 years as a defense attorney, I have been a first-hand witness to a number of criminal defendants who have suffered, and continue to suffer, collateral consequences of their criminal conviction. Such consequences have led criminologists to call collateral consequences, "civil death."

Imagine a convicted defendant that loses his job, and may even lose his professional license denying him/her another job in the field in which he/she was trained and/or studied for years in school. For example, I've seen medical professionals lose their license to practice their occupation after they were convicted of a drug related offense. Imagine a young defendant who while in college sold marijuana, gets arrested and convicted, and as a result, the university that he/she attends expels him/her from that educational institution. Imagine that defendant reapplying to other schools, but cannot obtain student loans because of his drug related conviction. Imagine a defendant seeking housing, but cannot pass the leasing agent’s background check and ultimately will be denied housing time and time again.

At Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake, we are keenly aware there is more at stake than avoiding incarceration, and we are mindful that our clients can be adversely affected for years and years because of collateral consequences of merely a conviction. It is not just about jail – it is about helping our clients understand and improve their situation, while seeking the best outcome possible.

Contact the attorneys at Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake today to avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction!