Friday, August 3, 2007

Unforeseen Consequences of Conviction

Criminal defense lawyer Shawn Matlock started a series on the collateral consequences of being convicted of a crime. Others have been writing recently in other venues about this very important client issue. USA Today wrote about collateral consequences here. The Sentencing Law and Policy Blog wrote about it here. Others wrote here.

I had ideas to share with my readers about the unforeseen consequences of Texas state convictions. Many problems the convicted person faces are the result of collateral consequences. A collateral consequence is a sanction that is not imposed expressly as part of the sentencing process. Rather, it is imposed by legislative action which creates penalties applicable by the operation of law to the person convicted of a crime.

I wrote about the consequences of conviction for the non-citizen here. Over the next few weeks I'll provide a non-comprehensive overview of some collateral consequences applicable to others convicted of a crime in Texas.

A person's voting rights are affected by a felony conviction. However, those rights can be restored if a judge chooses to exercise judicial clemency, based upon the successful completion of felony probation. Similarly, a person convicted of a felony cannot serve on a jury or grand jury. However, like the right to vote, if a judge chooses to exercise judicial clemency a felony conviction can be wiped away and the person's eligibility to serve on a jury can be restored.

A person convicted of a felony cannot hold public elective office. A person convicted of a felony may not legally possess a firearm for five years after release from confinement, supervision, or parole. A person convicted of a misdemeanor family violence offense may not legally possess a firearm for five years after release from confinement, supervision, or parole.

For DWI convictions a collateral consequence of conviction is a driver's license surcharge paid annually for three years. The more times one has been convicted of DWI the higher the surcharge.

Convictions that result in a Texas driver's license suspension include: certain alcoholic beverage code violations; a breath/blood test failure in a DWI case; a breath/blood test refusal in a DWI case; criminal mischief; criminally negligent homicide; driver's license fraud; DUI for minors; driving with a suspended license; evading arrest; failure to stop and render aid; drug cases; racing on a highway; tampering with a governmental record; habitual traffic violations; and many others.

A person convicted of a felony is potentially banned from the following employment opportunities: labor union officer or organizer; pesticide applicator; court interpreter; meat and poultry inspector; auctioneer; athletic trainer; insurance agent or adjuster; interior designer; acupuncturist; midwife; mortgage broker; speech/language pathologist; hearing aid fitter or distributor; physical therapist; dental hygienist; marriage or family counselor; monitor or aid on school bus; registered nurse; chiropractor; physician's assistant; psychologist; private security detection device sales person; bingo worker, supply manufacture or distributor; coin-operated machine business licensee; and many others.

The criminal defense lawyer should be asking all their clients with pending charges the following questions: (1) Are you an alien or a United States citizen? (2) Do you have any prior convictions? and (3) Do you have any government licenses, permits, employment, or benefits? The answer to these questions will arm the defense lawyer with information necessary to understand and explore most of the collateral consequences their clients will face.

Next time we'll talk about sex offender registration, estate executors, conservatorships, and holders of professional licenses.


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Stephen Gustitis said...

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