Collateral Consequences

Definition - What does Collateral Consequences mean?

Collateral consequences are the additional ramifications of being arrested for, charged with, and/or convicted of a serious crime. As such, they are distinct from court-imposed punishments. They include but are not limited to the loss of certain rights and privileges in accordance with state and federal laws.

Justipedia explains Collateral Consequences

The loss of voting privileges upon conviction for a felony offense is the best-known example of a collateral consequence. However, it is just one of many that affect people who are found guilty or simply accused of engaging in criminal activity.

For instance, an arrest and/or conviction can affect someone's chances of finding work or a place to live. This is because employers are allowed to ask questions regarding any past criminal history and felony convictions on job applications. Landlords can also ask prospective tenants to provide that information.

Additional examples of collateral consequences are restrictions that prevent people who have been convicted from obtaining financial or public assistance afforded to other citizens.

The publication of someone's name in the media following an arrest also has immediate and long-lasting implications. In the short term, it can sway public opinion and influence the defendant's chances of being released on bail or even getting a fair trial. Even in cases where the charges are dismissed or don't end with convictions, the publicity often damages the defendant's personal and professional reputation.

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