Written by Stryder Wegener
At Emerald City Law Group, our Seattle criminal defense lawyers understand that you might be dismayed to discover the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in Washington. After you serve your sentence, you probably expect that your life will return to normal. We’re committed to helping you understand the implications of a conviction, but we may also be able to help you avoid them with a strong defense strategy.
Overview of Collateral Consequences
If you’ve been convicted of a crime, Washington law imposes certain legal penalties that extend beyond any term of imprisonment, payment of fines, and restitution. These consequences may affect you, even if you were convicted in another state. They create obstacles that could impact:
- Your familial relationships
- Employment opportunities
- Your financial well-being
- Where you can live
Consequences Associated with a Criminal Conviction
There are hundreds of implications related to a criminal conviction in Washington, many of which depend on the nature and severity of the crime. Some non-statutory difficulties you might face after a conviction include:
Barriers to Employment
You could be automatically disqualified from holding certain positions, even if your chosen occupation is the only one you’re trained to perform. Many of the barriers to employment involve jobs working with vulnerable individuals, such as children or the elderly. You could also be prohibited from working in areas that compel you to act as a fiduciary, including the real estate, legal, and financial sectors.
Registration as a Sex Offender
You’re required to comply with Washington’s sex offender registration requirements if you’re convicted of designated sex crimes. The duration of the registration mandate depends on the level of the offense in question.
A conviction on criminal charges could lead to immediate deportation. However, even if you’re not subject to removal, you could be ineligible for a green card or future citizenship.
If you hold a professional license, such as a medical or nursing certification, a criminal conviction could bar you from renewing said license and practicing your job’s duties.
Your Rights as a Parent
For some individuals, the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction impact the entire family. The details depend on the crime, but you could lose your rights to child custody or visitation.
You should note that, unlike some other U.S. states, your voting rights are automatically restored once you complete your sentence following a Washington criminal matter.
How Vacating the Conviction Can Help with Collateral Consequences
The best strategy to avoid the adverse effects of a criminal conviction is to retain experienced defense counsel to fight for your rights in court. Of course, this isn’t always possible in a real-life criminal case. By plea bargaining, you may be able to obtain a reduced sentence or another favorable result. Still, a conviction will be part of your criminal record and subject to a host of collateral consequences.
When you have limited options to gain an acquittal or have the charges dismissed, it may be possible to sidestep the negative implications by vacating the conviction. If you qualify, and the conviction is vacated, you can state that you were never convicted of that offense. Public officials may still have access if you’re subsequently arrested for another crime.
Discuss Your Case with Our Skilled Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyers
For more information on the consequences of a criminal conviction in Washington, please contact Emerald City Law Group to speak with a member of our team. We can tell you more about defense options, vacating a conviction, and other details after reviewing the details of your case. You can set up a no-cost consultation at our Seattle office by calling (206) 973-0407, or by visiting our website.