Those who practice criminal law know that when someone is facing a criminal conviction, there is much more to consider than just possible time in jail or prison. Depending on where someone lives, they can be hit with substantial court costs, attorney fees (even if you qualify for and use a public defender), restitution, and more. In Florida, the law imposes a $50 per day cost of incarceration. Often when this is imposed it is as a lien against the defendant, so it makes it nearly impossible to secure any type of financing, like for a home or car, when a person is done serving their sentence.
There are even more possible collateral consequences of criminal convictions, from a person having their driver’s license revoked, being disqualified from certain jobs, not being able to vote, not being able to serve on a jury, and more. Recently, the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section completed a compilation of these collateral consequences. They’ve published an interactive tool at abacollateralconsequences.org which allows the public to explore these often unknown consequences of convictions. The database for Florida lists a whopping 1,124 possible collateral consequences.
These consequences are important to keep in mind if you have a criminal case. Often people look at the short term deal offered and are tempted to take it, not realizing the long lasting effects it can have on their lives. If you are faced with this situation, make sure that you understand your rights and your options before agreeing to a conviction that can follow you forever.
While it is not typically a popular cause to advocate for “criminals” the vast majority of people who are sentenced to jail or prison for a crime will eventually be released. While some consequences of their convictions may very well be related to public safety, many more do nothing but make it harder for them to turn their lives around and be more successful in the future. This does not just harm that individual, but also their families and communities.