The consequences of receiving a felony sentence at either the state or federal level rarely end when the offender is released from prison, but continue long after the offender has regained his freedom, sometimes indefinitely. These collateral consequences of incarceration range from the highly publicized inability to vote to less well-known consequences such as the inability to obtain certain types of employment.
To that end, we compiled a booklet, “Consequences of Conviction: A Reminder of Some Possible Civil Penalties,” that collects the federal and New York state legislation on collateral consequences of criminal convictions. The purpose is to provide criminal defense attorneys with an overview of this information all in once place so that, when appropriate, it can easily be conveyed to clients.
While it is possible after Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010), that the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually impose a duty on counsel to share some or all of these consequences with the client or, as in Padilla, the conviction will be set aside, that seems unlikely.
What brought this home to me most clearly was that from time to time in my own courtroom during an allocution it became evident that the defendant was not fully familiar with the difficulties he or she would face following conviction.
Among the topics we cover in the booklet are:
• civil rights, including jury service and voting rights;
• employment issues, ranging from federal and state licensing restrictions as well as specific employment restrictions;
• family rights, including the right to marry, retaining custody of children and the right to adopt;
• gun ownership;
• passport and driver license restrictions;
• immigration, including deportation, inadmissibility, ineligibility for citizenship or asylum; public benefits such as federal grants, loans, licenses, cash assistance, food stamps and public housing.
We also list a number of useful websites that offer supporting information.
We hope this material will be widely available and of course that it will be utilized. While not a complete list it is certainly most of the collateral consequences, that depending on the crime, will follow a defendant post-release.
Harold J. Baer Jr. is a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of New York. Jacqueline Harrington is clerk to Judge Baer.