Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Killeen
What’s at stake when charged with a criminal offense in Harker Heights, Waco, Copperas Cove and across Central Texas
A criminal conviction can come with jail or prison time and financial penalties. Once you’ve served your time or completed the terms of your probation, you might expect that you can put the entire experience behind you and move on with your life. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. Convictions can stay on your record for a long time – sometimes forever – casting a negative pall over every aspect of your life. When you’re accused of a crime, it’s natural to focus on the immediate effects of an arrest and charges.
However, it’s also important to keep sight of how a conviction can affect your future, like your career, reputation and your right to own a firearm. The Killeen criminal defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm understand the ramifications and consequences of a criminal conviction. We provide tough, smart defense to avoid a negative outcome in your case and keep your reputation intact.
Collateral consequences from a criminal record
We use the term “collateral consequences” to describe the fallout of an arrest and conviction that’s unrelated to punishments handed down by the Texas criminal court. These are issues that can negatively affect your life regarding career, family, reputation and other daily activities and relationships. Whether you’re a professional, a military servicemember or a college student, a conviction for even a moment of bad judgement can follow you around for the rest of your life.
We help our clients challenge accusations of various crimes, including:
- Domestic assault
- Drug crimes
- Sex crimes
- Weapons offenses
The best way to avoid collateral consequences is to avoid conviction in the first place, and when we take your case, that’s our ultimate goal.
Did You Know?
Researchers for the Justice Center at the Council of State Governments report over 48,000 collateral consequences scattered throughout state and federal codes. Texas has over 200 collateral consequences in 22 different sections of the state code. [The Federalist Society]
Potential effects of a Texas criminal conviction
As you know, the most obvious and immediate effect of criminal charges and conviction is the sentence or punishment handed down by the court. These, depending on whether they’re felonies or misdemeanors, can include financial penalties, probation or jail time. Remember, even if you simply receive a fine, this still counts as a conviction. A conviction on your criminal record can affect just about every aspect of your life, long after you’ve moved on and rehabilitated.
Civil asset forfeiture
If law enforcement believes your property or assets were involved in a crime, civil forfeiture statutes give them the authority to seize it. It doesn’t even have to be a crime you allegedly committed – just that your property was involved. You can lose your property even when you’re not convicted of a crime, causing you financial hardship and even the loss of your vehicle or home.
Employment and career
A criminal record can threaten your prospects of securing a job, or keeping the one you have. If you work in the military, depending on the type of offense, you may be dishonorably discharged or demoted in rank. Most employers also require applicants to disclose any criminal history, preventing you from access to well-paying jobs and careers – even after serving your debt to society.
Repeat criminal offenders in Texas can receive a lifetime ban on benefits like food stamps/SNAP. If you’re convicted of certain criminal offenses like sex crimes, you can lose public housing benefits as well.
Student and federal loans
Convictions for certain crimes disqualifies you for a number of government and federal benefits, including loans. If you’re incarcerated, your chances for a federal loan are slim to none. If you are currently on federal financial aid and are convicted for a criminal offense, you’ll likely lose that aid. Housing loans may or may not require a background check, but some convicted felons may have to wait a certain number of years before applying for a loan.
Right to own a firearm or gun
Generally, convicted felons can’t own guns in Texas, under the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968. Under state law, someone convicted of a felony must wait five years after their release from jail, parole or probation (whichever is later) before they can legally possess a firearm. And, they may possess it at their private residence only. A ban on firearms also includes a ban on ammunition, cartridges and bullets. The only way to get your full gun rights back is through a pardon or expungement.
Right to vote
When you’re convicted of a felony in Texas, you lose your right to vote and register to vote. This is in effect until you’ve successfully completed all the terms of your sentence. If you haven’t yet been convicted of a crime, but are facing charges, you’re still eligible to vote. On the other hand, if you’ve been released from jail but are still on probation, you wouldn’t be eligible to vote.
Experienced legal representation can help reduce the chances of the life-altering effects that come with a criminal conviction. We see the big picture and work for the best possible outcome for your case.
Collateral consequences attorneys who understand what’s at stake
A criminal record can be accessed by anyone who has the authority to run that type of background check. This can include employers, licensing boards, federal banks and other entities. And, most criminal offenses will stay on your record forever. This is why you should never attempt to handle an arrest or charge without competent lawyers who understand the future ramifications of criminal allegations.
Other restrictions on your rights and privileges as a convicted criminal may include:
- Driver’s license suspension and restrictions (especially for DWI offenses)
- Loss of child custody rights
- Loss of passport
- Loss of right to serve on a jury, or to hold public office
- Loss of security clearance
- Prohibited from applying for professional licenses
- Revocation of professional licenses
When you’re facing criminal charges, you’ll have to make a lot of decisions. Do you want to go to trial? Plea bargain? No matter what you decide, there will be consequences. Our attorneys have a thorough knowledge of the law and, as a former prosecutor herself, Attorney Mary Beth Harrell understands the potential effects on your future. We fight fiercely for your rights and to avoid a negative outcome for your case.
Killeen criminal defense lawyers protecting your rights
At the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, we know the far-reaching consequences of a criminal conviction. You can lose your constitutional rights, suffer damage to your personal and professional reputation, and pay for your alleged crime long after the criminal justice process is over. We will defend your rights with all of our resources. Let us help. Contact us today at 254-680-4655 or by filling out our contact form. We have offices in Killeen, Copperas Cove, and Waco, and handle in-custody visits for clients who cannot come to us.