Don’t let your plea ruin your dream job.

After being charged and before trial, the State frequently will offer a plea deal.  One of the most underrated aspects of plea considerations is not how much will the fine be or an agreement of jail time (both still important) but rather, collateral consequences.  Collateral consequences are the unseen and often devastating results of a criminal conviction or finding in a civil case.  These consequences are frequently hidden, making it extremely difficult for judges, practitioners and the public to fully appreciate what lies ahead.

Commonly collateral consequences are not the direct result of criminal convictions, such as incarceration, fines, or probation; rather they are the further civil sanctions by the state that are triggered as a consequence of the conviction.  They commonly include loss of a driver’s license, professional license such as not being able to work in a hospital or be a caregiver, ineligibility for future employment, loss of public funds, loss of ability to receive student loans, loss of voting rights, ineligibility for jury duty and deportation for immigrants, including those who, while not U.S. citizens, hold permanent resident status and, for many, and not being able to own or be in possession of a firearm.

Although most collateral consequences come from criminal convictions, some can be the result of findings in a civil case such as: an order for protection (OFP), a finding from the Minnesota Department of Human Services or even a child protection case.

Being the subject of a criminal case or a civil case is a stressful time. The last thing you need is to find out years after your conviction that you do not have a valid driver’s license or cannot be hired for your dream job.  Before making any decision for settlement it is important to consider the long term ramifications of the agreement.  The deal might not be as good as you once thought.