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Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

When people are charged with a crime, they often focus on whether or not they will have to go to jail or whether they can pay the fine. While incarceration and fines are potential consequences conviction, they are not the only consequences. The most common collateral consequences are discussed below.


If you are convicted of a crime, it is likely you will be monitored by probation to verify that you are complying with the conditions of your sentence such as paying your legal financial obligations, completing required classes and maintaining law-abiding behavior. You may also be expected to submit to drug or alcohol screening.

Driver's License Suspension or Revocation

If you are convicted of certain traffic offenses, your driver's license may be suspended or revoked for a period of time. In order to reinstate your driving privileges, there are steps you must take to get your driving privilege back. These steps vary, depending on whether your license is suspended or revoked. To determine the steps you need to take to get your license back, please refer to the Washington State Department of Licensing or contact your attorney for guidance.

Ignition Interlock Devices

An Ignition interlock device is a device installed on a vehicle that a driver blow into to before starting the vehicle. If the driver's breath alcohol concentration is .025 or greater, the car won't start. Depending on a person's prior criminal history and the type of conviction, the driver will be required to have the ignition interlock device on the vehicle between 6 months and 10 years before it can be removed and driving privileges are fully reinstated.

Restrictions on Government Assistance

If you qualify for and receive housing assistance, federally funded student loans, or other government assistance, a conviction for certain offenses can mean you are no longer eligible for those programs. Consequently, you should let your attorney know if you are receiving any type of assistance, so she can attempt to negotiate a resolution that allows you to maintain your benefits.

Employment Consequences

Depending on your job, a criminal conviction could result in your dismissal. A criminal conviction may impact your security clearance and prevent you from handling sensitive information. Certain federal jobs require employees remain free of criminal convictions. Additionally, certain jobs that interface regularly with federal agencies require employees have a clean record. Certain convictions, like DUI or felonies, can also prevent a person from obtaining or having his security clearance renewed, which may result in loss of employment and professional licenses.

Criminal convictions can have serious employment consequences. Most employers do background checks before offering employment. While criminal convictions will not necessarily preclude future employment, certain types of convictions will make finding work more challenging. Discuss your career goals with your defense attorney before resolving any criminal charge.

Loss of Professional License

Depending on your profession, there may be professional license sanctions stemming from a criminal conviction. Sometimes, a person's professional license may be restricted or revoked for a period of time. In other cases, a criminal conviction results in a lifetime ban. Most licensing agencies require their licensees to self-report convictions within a certain time-frame. Not doing so can result in additional licensing sanctions. If you have a professional license or hope to pursue a career that requires a professional license, it's important to speak to an attorney about your career goals before resolving any criminal charge.

Immigration Consequences

If you are not a United States citizen, certain criminal convictions may result in removal from the United States. This may be true even if you have permanent resident status. Because immigration consequences can be very serious, if you are not a U.S. citizen and are facing a criminal charge, your defense attorney may advise you to retain an immigration attorney to work in tandem with defense counsel to try to mitigate any adverse immigration consequences.

Limitations Regarding Firearms

Some criminal convictions result in the loss of firearms privileges under state and/or federal law. If your profession requires you to carry a firearm or you are an avid firearm user, notify your defense counsel that a loss of firearm rights may have serious implications for you.

Loss of Voting Rights

Certain convictions result in the loss of voting rights. You may not vote in elections until your civil rights have been restored, which happens automatically in Washington once all of your obligations to the court have been fulfilled. Voting while you do not have the right to vote is a criminal offense.

Increased Consequences for Subsequent Offenses

There are some crimes that are “enhancible” in the state of Washington. This means identical conduct can be punished more seriously if you have a prior conviction for the same conduct already on your record. For example, a first DUI may be punished less severely than a second DUI within a certain time frame.

Civil Forfeiture

Depending on the nature of the alleged offense, you may face civil forfeiture proceedings as well as criminal charges. Simply put, if law enforcement believes the property was used in the commission of certain crimes, the government may seize the property. This can include your car, your money, even your home.

If You Face Charges...

Because of the varied collateral consequences you may face if convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact Pewitt Law, PLLC for a free consultation.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.