A Criminal Defense Attorney Who Understands What’s At Stake
Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in Columbia & Charleston
After a criminal conviction, an individual may face time in prison and other penalties. Unfortunately, even after someone has served his or her time, completed probation and other terms of the sentence, the criminal justice system isn’t quite finished with him or her. A conviction can stay on your criminal record indefinitely, affecting nearly every aspect of your life.
The consequences of a criminal conviction can be varied and impact everything from your professional relationships to your right to own a firearm. When you’re focused only on the immediate charges against you, you may not realize the future consequences and their possible long-term effects on your future.
At The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A., we have a thorough and full understanding of what’s at stake when you’re facing criminal charges. Criminal defense attorney Randy Hough looks at the big picture and fights to give you the best chance to avoid the negative effects of a criminal conviction – by fighting to avoid a conviction altogether. Call our Columbia or Charleston offices today to find out how we can protect your future and your freedoms.
“Remember, an arrest is not a conviction.” - Attorney Hough
Consequences of a criminal conviction in South Carolina
The first, and most immediate, effect of a criminal conviction on your life is the punishment handed out by the court. Typically a judge decides the sentence according to the facts presented at the trial. Punishments and penalties can include fines, probation, or prison time. Even if you only receive a fine, this still counts as a conviction.
There are a number of other ways a criminal conviction can affect you, long after you’ve satisfied the terms of your sentence.
A criminal conviction on your record can harm your prospects of securing a job, or moving further up in the one you currently have. For government employees and teachers, a criminal conviction can mean automatic termination of their job. The majority of employers, big and small, require their applicants to answer queries about criminal history, and this causes otherwise highly qualified people to lose out on good positions and careers.
Loss of professional license
Many professions require licenses, and a criminal conviction can strip you of that license. Under Virginia law:
“A person shall not be refused a license, certificate or registration to practice, pursue, or engage in any regulated occupation or profession solely because of a prior criminal conviction, unless the criminal conviction directly relates to the occupation or profession for which the license, certificate or registration is sought. However, the regulatory board shall have the authority to refuse a license, certificate or registration if, based upon all the information available, including the applicant's record of prior convictions, it finds that the applicant is unfit or unsuited to engage in such occupation or profession” (emphasis ours).
Student and federal loans
Individuals convicted of certain crimes can be denied a wide variety of government benefits, and this includes student loans. It certainly seems unfair to prevent people trying to rehabilitate themselves from getting a good education, but this is the reality for many of those with a criminal record. We work to help our clients avoid this punishment.
Housing and other government benefits
The government also bans you from access to benefits like food stamps if you have certain criminal convictions on your record. For example, if you’ve been convicted of a felony drug offense, you may no longer qualify for these types of government benefits. Individuals evicted from federal housing for certain crimes can lose public housing assistance benefits, as well as those convicted of sex crimes.
Right to vote
A criminal conviction also takes away a basic right – the right to vote. In most state, felons lose this right, also called “felon disenfranchisement.” In South Carolina, upon conviction, individuals lose their right to vote until completion of their sentence, including parole and probation. This process of regaining your right to vote can be complicated, but the good news is that Attorney Hough and our legal team can guide you through the process.
Right to possess a gun or firearm
State law mandates that if an individual has been convicted of a felony, violent crime, or domestic violence, he or she can’t possess a firearm. Individuals under orders of protection or restraining orders also can’t have access to firearms, although they may regain access when an order is expired or lifted.
Federal law also prohibits certain people from possessing from firearms. The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 ruled that anyone convicted of, or under indictment for, a crime punishable by more than one year in prison can no longer purchase a gun. Federal law also bars those under restraining orders or those convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing firearms.
It’s also important to remember that a ban on firearms also means a ban on ammunition, a detail that many authorities and prosecutors will attempt to use against you if possible. Attorney Randy Hough ensures your Second Amendment rights are protected.
Other collateral consequences of a criminal conviction
Although you may feel fortunate if you’re able to plead guilty to a misdemeanor rather than a felony – and avoid jail time altogether – you can still suffer other consequences from a criminal conviction. Pleading guilty means checking the “Yes” box every time you fill out paperwork when it asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”
Depending on the crime, possible collateral consequences of a criminal record can include:
- Asset and vehicle forfeiture
- Inclusion on sex offender registry
- Job loss
- Loss of CDL
- Loss of liquor license
- Revocation of professional license
- Suspension of driver’s license
Your criminal record can be accessed by any party who has the authority to run a background check – employers, banks, landlords, licensing boards, and other entities. This record can last forever, which is why you should never plead guilty or admit to any criminal activity without the advice of a knowledgeable Columbia and Charleston defense attorney.
In some cases, we can work to have your criminal record pardoned or expunged. An expungement erases your criminal conviction or arrest, as if it never happened. Not all convictions are subject to expungement. You also may be eligible for a pardon, which does not erase your conviction, but does restore your constitutional rights.
Serious criminal issues call for serious criminal defense. With so much at stake, you need experienced representation from an attorney who knows the local criminal justice system inside and out. Our primary goal is to resolve your charges in a way that avoids a criminal conviction altogether, keeping your record clean and your rights intact.
Qualified criminal defense lawyer in Columbia & Charleston, SC
At The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A., we understand that a criminal conviction can follow you for life, stripping you of your constitutional rights and affecting you both professionally and personally. Criminal defense attorney A. Randolph Hough protects you throughout the process, working to avoid conviction at all costs. Talk to us today to find out how we can help you with your case. To schedule a free consultation at one of our offices in Columbia or Charleston, please call 803-771-4119 or fill out our contact form.