Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

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Posts made in September, 2012

By on Sep 14, 2012 in Civil Rights, Constitution, Court, Criminal, Employment, Sentencing/Penalties, Voting | 2 comments

One of the first things people ask me when we’re talking about pending criminal charges is “what’s going to happen?” As I’ve written before, I don’t like that question because it implies that their destiny is outside of their hands. My job is to improve their outcome, despite being charged with a crime, and I do a pretty good job of that. But there’s another issue with discussing the ramifications of a criminal conviction: the collateral consequences. These are the consequences that occur beyond the sentence, i.e. beyond jail time and fines. I spoke about one a while back: criminal inadmissibility of traveling to Canada. Today’s post discusses a few more. Civil Death A lot of people believe that a sentence is over when the person has “paid back their debt to society,” i.e. released from incarceration. Once that person is out of prison, it should be as if they were never there in the first place; a return to status ante. But readers of this blog, as well as people tuned into the social milieu, know that’s simply not the case. A criminal conviction carries enormous and long-lasting consequences to the defendant, and I’ll be talking about some of those in a moment. These sorts of consequences have been prevalent throughout history. The idea of “civil death” dates back many centuries. Under a civil death, the person wasn’t overtly killed but they lost all standing or protection under the law. For example, in medieval Europe, people convicted of felonies would lose all status. Not only could that person not own land or serve in public service, they could also be killed with impunity, since they were outside the protection of the law. This is where the word “outlaw” came from – referring to someone who lived and worked outside the protection of the law. In Ancient Rome, giving a person deemed an outlaw food or shelter was itself a crime, since that outlaw was outside the benefit of social services. Although, those harsh penalties are no longer used today, after incarceration individuals still face consequences. Modern Collateral Consequences In the modern US, besides growing compassion and sensibilities, we have the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment....

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