A collateral consequence of conviction is a sanction that is not imposed expressly as part of the sentencing process. Rather, it is imposed by legislative action which creates penalties applicable by the operation of law. We looked at different aspects of collateral consequences in recent posts. Our final installment of collateral consequences show how holders of professional licenses, parties in a suit for divorce, or contractors for the Department of Defense may all suffer serious consequences from a criminal conviction, well beyond their sentence.
The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 prohibits individuals with certain criminal convictions from being approved as foster or adoptive parents. These convictions include a felony conviction for child abuse or neglect, a felony conviction for spousal abuse, a felony conviction for a crime against children, and others. In a Texas suit for divorce a court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if during the marriage the other spouse has been convicted of a felony. A person convicted of any criminal offense involving dishonesty or a breach of trust may not become, or continue, as an institution-related party with respect to a federally insured depository institution, own or control an insured depository institution, or otherwise participate in the conduct of the affairs of such an institution. In the same vein, a person who has been convicted of a felony is subject to having their investment adviser registration suspended or revoked. In Texas, a person convicted of a felony may not serve as director, manager, or managing participant of a Texas state bank unless the banking commissioner consents in writing.
Persons convicted of fraud, or any felony, arising out of a contract with the Department of Defense are prohibited from working in a management capacity for a defense contractor or serving as a consultant for any company that is a defense contractor. Any person subject to a lifetime sex offender registration requirement is ineligible for federally assisted housing. A sex offender registered in any state who moves to another state must notify the FBI and the new state of residence. Federal sex offenders are required to register in the states in which they live, are employed, carry on a vocation, or go to school. The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners must suspend a physician’s license on proof the physician has been convicted of a felony. The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy may suspend a license of a person convicted a felony or misdemeanor involving fraud or dishonesty. The Texas Department of Insurance may not issue a certificate of authority to act as an insurer if a corporate officer, or member of the board of directors, has been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude or breach of fiduciary duty.
Clients and criminal defense lawyers beware. The unforeseen consequences of conviction lurk in the shadows to trap the unwary and unsuspecting. Consequently, the defense lawyer should always ask the client with pending charges the following three questions: (1) Are you an alien or United States citizen? (2) Do you have any prior convictions? and (3) Do you have any governmental licenses, permits, employment, or benefits? This should give the lawyer the necessary information to examine most of the collateral consequences the client will face.
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.