Life After a Conviction: Collateral Consequences After Being Released

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

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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
Total                                                                   1,274

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.

Legal counsel

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

Up to 6 Months in Jail for Collecting Brine Shrimp Eggs without a Permit

According to Utah Code 23-20-3, without a permit, tag, or other type of registration, a person may face up to 6 months in jail and an $800 fine if they” commercially harvest protected wildlife, including brine shrimp and brine shrimp eggs.”

Seafood harvesting in Utah?

Brine Shrimp Eggs

Photo by: Saul Dolgin

Collecting seafood may be something that is typically conducted along coastal states; however the Great Salt Lake has its own salt water ecosystem that is home to millions of pounds of brine shrimp. According to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program “Brine shrimp [commonly known as the Sea Monkeys] are crustaceans that inhabit salty waters around the world, both inland and on the coast. ( . . . ) Although small, they serve as an essential food source for millions of birds that breed or stopover at the Great Salt Lake during migration [;] and, in recent years, these shrimp support a multi-million dollar commercial harvest.”

Collecting brine shrimp eggs

The brine shrimp that inhabit the Great Salt Lake were discovered in the early 1950’s and used as food for larger fish. After a few years of harvesting the adult brine shrimp, harvesters noted the adults were dying off quickly in the fall but leaving behind cysts of brine shrimp eggs that were extremely durable. Harvesters quickly ceased collecting the adult shrimp, only to collect the brine shrimp eggs during the annual winter harvests and clean and ship them off around the world. The harvest for brine shrimp eggs usually lasts between October and January.

Protecting a resource

Photo by:
Liji Jinaraj

Once world was spread of the brine shrimp eggs in the Great Salt Lake, something had to be done to protect this saltwater resource. Each year, there are less than 80 permits issued to companies that harvest brine shrimp eggs. Along with the permit is the agreement that those companies will pay the state royalties in what the Brine Shrimp Royalty Act (59-23-3) defines as “3.75 cents multiplied by the total number of pounds of unprocessed brine shrimp eggs that the person harvests within the state during the tax year.”

Trouble ahead for egg collectors

As the shores of the Great Salt Lake continue to recede, the number of permits may decrease while penalties may rise for those who collect brine shrimp eggs without a permit. As it stands now, collecting brine shrimp eggs commercially can result in a class B misdemeanor if done without a permit. The Utah Department of Natural Resources R657-52-3 adds “A person [not with a company] may not harvest, possess, or transport brine shrimp or brine shrimp eggs without first obtaining a certificate of registration” or they may face a class C misdemeanor. For more information regarding fishing,hunting, or wildlife laws in general, contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. For assistance with legal charges, speak with an attorney immediately.

Pretextual Stop Gives Police Probable Cause to Search a Vehicle

Anytime a Utah resident is pulled over for a minor traffic violation, that incident has the potential to become a pretextual stop, or an opportunity for police to find probable cause to search a vehicle.

Suspicious vehicle

Pretextual Stop

Photo by: Tony

There are times when law enforcement sees a vehicle that they would like to search but they have no probable cause to allow them access to it. The vehicle may be “suspicious” by fitting a certain profile that would allude to possible criminal behavior by the vehicle’s occupants or officers may want to search a car to help an unrelated investigation. Instead of waiting for a crime to be committed by the driver or getting a warrant to search the car, the vehicle may be followed until it makes a minor traffic violation instead.

Broken taillight = probable cause for a search

Speeding, switching lanes without signaling, no seatbelt, and even a broken taillight are all reasons that police can use to pull a car over and issue a citation. These simple traffic stops can also give law enforcement the opportunity to find probable cause to search a vehicle. A planned traffic stop with a hidden agenda is referred to as a pretextual stop, or an opportunity for law enforcement to search a vehicle for a reason that is actually unrelated to the traffic violation.

Whren v. United States

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In 1995, Whren- a driver of Mexican descent- was traveling along a stretch of road known as being a major drug trafficking corridor. Officers spotted Whren and proceeded to follow him for over 20 miles. Eventually a couple minor traffic violations such as failure to use a turn signal at a stop sign and speeding were made. This gave officers the opportunity to pull the vehicle over where they noticed narcotics in Whren’s hand. In court Whren attempted to have the evidence surpressed due to the pretextual stop violating his Fourth Amendment rights, however that motion was denied and he was ultimately convicted.

Pretextual stop not unconstitutional

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures that are conducted without probable cause. Unfortunately, the United States Court of Appeals stated in Whren’s case that a pretextual stop did not violate Whren’s Fourth Amendment Rights. They explained: “the temporary detention of a motorist upon probable cause to believe that he has violated the traffic laws does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable seizures, even if a reasonable officer would not have stopped the motorist absent some additional law enforcement objective.” They went on the further clarify that “Detention of a motorist is reasonable where probable cause exists to believe that a traffic violation has occurred.”

Limits to a pretextual stop

Photo by Drew Stevens

Although the U.S. Court of Appeals determined a pretextual stop to be constitutional, there are limits to what officers are allowed to do once a vehicle is stopped. A pretextual stop allows an officer to pull over a vehicle for a traffic violation but not necessarily to search the vehicle. In order to conduct a search, officers would have to have a warrant or probable cause to do a search. Probable cause might include:

• Seeing contraband in plain view;
• Smelling of illegal drugs by an officer or K9; or
• Observing activity that gives officers reasonable suspicion of a crime such as reckless driving that could indicate alcohol consumption or drug abuse.

If an officer cannot find probable cause to search a vehicle during their pretextual stop, they may ask the driver for permission to search. In an effort to cooperate with law enforcement, many individuals wouldn’t dare saying “no” when asked if officers can look in their vehicle. This is often a major loophole that police use to search a car without probable cause. While being respectful, it is perfectly acceptable to refuse officers to do a vehicle search. If they search a vehicle without probable cause, a warrant, or permission and find evidence of a crime, drivers are encouraged to wait politely but silently and have legal counsel discuss the unreasonable search during court. The evidence collected would likely be dismissed along with related charges. With all cases regarding a pretextual stop or illegal searches and seizures, it is recommended to obtain the aid of a criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney will help ensure that no constitutional rights have been violated and that all searches were made lawfully.