The Unseen Punishment—The collateral consequences of criminal convictions.

A question we frequently get from clients who are facing their first criminal charge is how this will affect them in the years to come. Criminal penalties include incarceration, fines, restitution to the victim, mandatory drug treatment, and probationary periods—during which a suspended sentence can be imposed on the accused.

What most people forget is how many other kinds of effects result from a conviction—especially ones like theft, shoplifting, fraud, embezzlement, and false pretenses. They include:

  • The loss of employment
  • Losing your license to drive
  • Losing the right to possess firearms or other weapons and concealed weapons permits
  • Loss of the right to vote
  • Losing the right to stand for federal, state, and local elections
  • Losing the right to serve on a jury
  • Inability to become a notary public
  • Inability to work for a bonded employer (e.g., banks, financial institutions, locksmiths)
  • The loss of business and occupational licenses and the imposition of other forms of professional discipline (e.g., nursing and other healthcare licenses)
  • Detention and deportation from the United States
  • Dishonorable discharge from the armed force
  • Inability to obtain a security clearance in the armed forces or law enforcement
  • Detention under civil commitment laws (e.g., commitment after conviction for a sexually violent offense)
  • Disentitlement to educational loans
  • Disentitlement to public housing and eviction
  • Disentitlement to federal and state cash and food assistance

Pleading guilty to a shoplifting charge or other “minor” theft can have consequences that follow someone for the rest of your life. There are ways to potentially mitigate even the clearest cases of guilt. If you have questions about the effects from a charge in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, or the surrounding counties, please contact the attorneys of Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804) 423-1382 or email us at