What Are the Collateral Consequences of a Felony Conviction?
Being convicted of a felony is a big deal. Even if you somehow manage to avoid jail time on a felony conviction, the fact remains that you have a felony conviction on your record. Any potential employer, any school you apply to, and well, anyone who looks is going to see that on your record and know that you have a felony conviction. This will never cast you in a good light.
The cost of a felony conviction can take many forms. A number of these are immediate, and others can come down the road in ways you might not have expected. You might be able to minimize the impact of a felony conviction, but you cannot eliminate it.
A Felony Conviction of Any Kind is Costly
You can’t minimize how serious a felony conviction is. While you could tell yourself, “hey, it’s only (fill in the blank),” the only thing most people see is a felony conviction. People equate misdemeanors with traffic violations; they equate felonies with crimes. While the characterizations are not entirely fair, it’s the way the world is.
And that felony conviction can have a significant impact on your life. Felonies can be financially expensive, from the cost of defense to the expenses of fines and probation fees you likely will have to pay if convicted. You can lose your job; you might have trouble finding another good job after a felony conviction. You might have to pay restitution if a victim of your felony suffered financial loss from your actions. Add that possibility to the other costs you likely will have to pay as the result of a felony charge and conviction. Even the punishments meted out by the court can carry financial consequences in your life. Those punishments can include:
- Incarceration: While it is less likely that you would face prison time for a first-offense Class 4 felony, for example, repeat offenses or more serious felony charges can carry a punishment of years behind bars. Illinois law establishes a presumption favoring probation over incarceration whenever possible, but that doesn’t mean that even first-time felony convictions will never come with jail time. Often, a jail sentence is suspended while a probationary sentence is served. Successfully complete probation and the threat of incarceration goes away.
- Probation: Receiving a sentence of probation means you won’t go to prison, but the limitations on your freedom of action can be burdensome. You have to comply with all conditions ordered by the court, which can include regular meetings with a probation officer, being employed, participation in a drug or alcohol rehab program, paying all court costs, and paying fees for probation and any rehab programs. If you fail to satisfy the conditions of your probation throughout its entire term, you could find yourself serving that suspended prison sentence.
- Restitution: In criminal cases that involve property damage or loss or in some other way result in a victim losing money, courts can order restitution. Restitution requires the defendant to pay back victims for the money they lost as a result of the defendant’s crime. Restitution is on top of any fines that might be a part of the court’s sentence.
- House arrest: This requires that you remain in your home for a specified period, with electronic monitoring of compliance. Trips for medical visits or to see your probation officer are allowed, but other travel is tightly restricted. Once again, you’ll be required to pay for any costs or fees.
A felony conviction is likely to have a negative impact on your ability to find a job. Further, you could lose your professional license or permit and be unable to work in that field anymore. A felony conviction could make it difficult, if not impossible, to work in certain “trust” professions, such as teaching, policing, government employment, truck driving where a CDL is required, and firefighting.
Not All Effects of a Felony Conviction Are Financial
While the financial costs of a felony conviction can be daunting, felony convictions also come with significant non-financial effects. While prison time carries obvious financial implications, it also creates a hole in your resume that potential employers will want you to explain.
In addition to potentially taking your freedom and leaving your family in dire financial straits, a felony conviction can have secondary effects, as well, including:
- Illinois and 24 other states restrict felons’ right to hold public office. Felons may not serve in municipal elected office in Illinois.
- A felony conviction likely will cost you your federal security clearance, but it also could cost you your state security clearance required to work in professions including teaching, jobs that involve working with children, and security jobs.
- While felons generally can obtain a U.S. passport, many foreign countries restrict or prohibit entry based on certain criminal convictions. Canada, for example, does not allow people with convictions for driving under the influence to enter the country.
- As a convicted fellow, you can expect to occasionally be put in a police line-up as a possible suspect
- Convicted felons can’t legally obtain firearms.
- A felony conviction on drug charges will cause you to lose any federal financial aid money for college.
- You could lose parental rights such as custody or visitation rights.
If Are Facing Felony Charges in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C.
A felony conviction is nothing to mess around with. The impact on your life will be substantial at best, and catastrophic at worst. The time to deal with the potential of a felony conviction is before the conviction. The only way to avoid the negative consequences of a felony conviction is to avoid getting convicted of a felony. Call the criminal attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Our legal team has the experience and the knowledge to handle your case, and we will fight charges against you tenaciously. For a consultation about charges in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, contact us 24 hours a day at (630) 430-8622.