Ex-convicts who have been arrested and sentenced in Utah may face what are known as collateral consequences after being released back into the community; making life after a conviction miserable for those attempting to rebuild their lives.
Criminal penalties and time served
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Every crime that is committed is countered with legal ramifications that range from probation and community service to a hefty fine and predetermined stint behind bars. Criminal penalties are a direct consequence of a conviction and can vary depending on what law has been broken and whether or not there are multiple charges or subsequent offenses. Once a defendant is sentenced for their wrong-doing, they then carry out their sentence as a sort of legal penance for their misconducts.
Almost free – AP&P
Often when someone has been sentenced or following a period of incarceration, they are sometimes released early on what is known as either probation or parole; both of which grant a convicted person restricted freedom. There are special conditions attached to being on probation and parole that a convicted individual must follow in order to retain their pseudo independence and work towards their complete release. According to the Utah Department of Corrections, the conditions of probation and parole may include:
• Abstaining from controlled substances and submitting drug tests when requested;
• Refrain from owning any dangerous weapons;
• Not associate with those who are involved with criminal activity;
• Obeying curfew that is set by the AP&P officer; and
• Allowing AP&P officers to visit the offender’s home or work to ensure they are abiding by the rules associated with probation or parole.
Parole conditions also include:
• Living only at an approved residence;
• Obtaining permission before leaving the state;
• Maintaining regular full time employment; and
• Allowing random searches of their person or belongings.
AP&P officers enforce these strict rules and expect regular reporting by offenders until their time on probation and parole are finished.
Life on the outside
Photo by: Hartwig HKD
After completing a stint behind bars or following a successful period on probation or parole, a person who has been legally convicted of a crime is then released back into the community and expected to try and live a normal life. Returning to the free world after a lengthy period of time can be a difficult experience for ex-convicts however. They are often returning to lost jobs and/or homes as well as broken families and public shame. If this isn’t enough, ex-convicts also face what is known as collateral consequences of their conviction that make life after release even more unbearable.
Collateral consequences – civil punishment after release
According to the National Institute of Justice, “Criminal conviction brings with it a host of sanctions and disqualifications that can place an unanticipated burden on individuals trying to re-enter society and lead lives as productive citizens.” These unfamiliar burdens post-conviction are known as collateral consequences. Collateral consequences are civil penalties carried out by the state that are not always mentioned in court. NIJ also stated that collateral consequences “attach not only to felonies and incarcerated individuals but also to misdemeanors and individuals who have never been incarcerated.” Some collateral consequences are well known such as convicted felons not being able to possess firearms or serve on a jury. Others are unexpected and not reserved only for felons.
The harsh reality post-conviction
Photo by: Kathryn Decker
The Utah Sentencing Commission released a document in 2014 that lists 15 difference areas of life that will be affected by having a criminal record. They also listed the the amount of collateral consequences for each area:
Area and number of collateral consequences
• “Employment 435
• Occupational and professional licensing 273
• Business licensing and property rights 234
• Government programs 14
• Government loans and grants 3
• Judicial rights 21
• Government benefits 7
• Education 18
• Political/civic participation 68
• Housing 22
• Family/domestic rights 35
• Recreational license/firearms 20
• Registration and residency restrictions 63
• Motor vehicle licensure 41
• General relief provision 20
Every one of these areas that are critical to living a normal life is affected when a person is a convicted felon. Surprisingly, 12 out of 15 listed areas have collateral consequences for those who have simple misdemeanor conviction on their record.
It is vital for anyone facing criminal charges to know the ramifications that any charge can carry, whether those implications are criminal penalties or collateral consequences. Before pleading guilty or accepting a plea bargain, discuss all possible criminal and collateral consequences first with an experienced a criminal defense attorney