Record Sealing

What are Collateral Consequences?

Why is it so important to have an experienced, dedicated and ethical criminal defense attorney assist you when you are charged with any crime? There are direct consequences such as incarceration, fines, and community service. What is more nefarious and may have a greater impact on an individual’s rights are the collateral consequences of involvement in the criminal justice system.

According to the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences, collateral consequences are legal and regulatory sanctions and restrictions that limit or prohibit people with criminal records from accessing employment, occupational licensing, housing, voting, education, and other opportunities. Collateral consequences most frequently affect people who have been convicted of a crime, though in some states an arrest alone—even an arrest that doesn’t result in a conviction—may trigger a collateral consequence.

Some collateral consequences are directly related to the particular crime, such as registration requirements for sex offenders, driver’s license restrictions for people convicted of serious traffic offense, or debarment of people convicted of fraud. But many collateral consequences apply to people convicted of any crime, without regard to any relationship between the crime and opportunity being restricted, and frequently without consideration of how long ago the crime occurred or the person’s rehabilitation efforts since. Collateral consequences with overbroad restrictions that offer no chance to overcome the restriction function as additional punishment and may discourage rehabilitation and ultimately increase recidivism.

Collateral consequences are scattered throughout the codebooks and are frequently unknown even to those responsible for their administration and enforcement. They have been promulgated with little coordination in disparate sections of state and federal codes, which makes it difficult for anyone to identify all of the penalties and disabilities that may be triggered by a criminal record for a certain offense.

While collateral consequences have been a familiar feature of the American justice system since colonial times, they have become more pervasive and more problematic in the past 20 years for three reasons: they are more numerous and impactfal, they effect more people, and they are harder to avoid or mitigate. As a result, millions of Americans are consigned to a kind of a permanent legal limbo because of a crime they committed in the past.

The attorneys at Schwartz and Waible have helped thousands of people mitigate the direct and collateral consequences of the Colorado criminal justice system. We listen carefully to all of our client’s individual needs to insure we create a defense strategy that gets them out of the system as soon as possible, and minimizes the impact on their rights to stay in the United States, work in their chosen field, live where they want, hunt with their family, and maintain their reputation in the community. We have spent countless hours in courtrooms throughout the state negotiating fair settlements and defending our clients in jury trials. Our attorneys are also experts in sealing adult criminal records and expunging juvenile records. Call us today and put our experience to work for you or your loved one.