What You Stand to Lose if Convicted of a Crime in Washington State
Vancouver, WA defense attorneys fighting to protect you from the collateral damage of a conviction
Every criminal case is frightening. Most crimes, even for a first conviction, can result in mandatory time in prisons. Prisons are rough places. You have no freedom. You have to live with people who are longtime criminals. You’re under constant watch.
And that’s just while you’re in jail or prison. When you come home, you face the loss of even more rights. In some cases, just being a suspect in a crime can cost you everything.
At Philbrook Law Office PS, our Vancouver, WA criminal defense lawyers understand how crushing the consequences of a conviction can be. We explain the collateral damages that come with a criminal conviction so you know what you’re facing before you go to trial or enter a guilty plea. We seek dismissals, acquittals, plea reductions, placement in diversion programs, and alternate sentences. Let us help you protect your future.
What rights could I lose from a Washington criminal conviction?
Loss of voting privileges. If you’re convicted of a felony in Washington, you won’t be eligible to vote until you are released from the Department of Corrections or from any community service obligation. This means your voting rights are automatically restored – even if you owe fines and restitution. The prohibition does not apply to misdemeanor violations.
Firearm rights. If you are convicted of a felony, you will be denied the right to possess a firearm for the rest of your life - unless the right is formally restored by a court of record. The ban doesn’t allow for any exceptions such as target shooting or collecting. Unlawful possession of a firearm will result in criminal charges. The same ban applies to domestic crimes.
You may also lose your right to serve on a jury or run for public office. You may not be eligible for a passport due to criminal background checks.
Crimes, especially domestic crimes and felonies, will likely affect your rights to a balanced parental plan if you have children and are divorced or separated.
Which crimes have the most severe collateral consequences?
For starters, felonies and crimes of violence will have more severe consequences than less serious crimes and misdemeanors. We represent defendants charged with the following felonies, among others:
Your criminal record can be determined through background checks, so you won’t be able to hide your convictions or misrepresent yourself on any forms you need to fill out for jobs or housing.
A criminal record can affect your employment opportunities
If you spend time in jail or prison, you will likely lose your job. Finding a new one once you’re released may prove harder than you think. Some of the consequences of a criminal record include:
- Security clearances. An inability to obtain security clearances and other types of clearances for government jobs such as law enforcement jobs.
- Loss of license. If you commit a white-collar crime where you breach someone’s trust for financial gain, or violate a morality clause in your contract, you could lose your professional license. It may take years after you complete your sentence before you can regain your license – or you may never be eligible for a new license.
- Military service. If you’re in one of the military branches, a conviction can result in a rank demotion or a dishonorable discharge.
What is Washington’s Ban the Box law?
Washington did enact, in 2018, the Washington Fair Chance Act. Known as the “ban the box” law, it offers people with criminal records some protections. Under the law, employers cannot:
- Ask about your criminal history in the initial stages, including on the job application
- Conduct a background check before a determination is made that you’re qualified for the job
- Have an automatic rejection policy if you have a criminal record
Some exceptions do apply, such as if an applicant is applying for a law enforcement job or a job working, unsupervised, with children. Employers can consider your criminal history after a determination of qualification has been made.
Economic losses stemming from criminal convictions
Losing your job isn’t the only financial setback you could face. You could also be unable to:
- Qualify for federal housing
- Qualify for federal education assistance
- Obtain loans or a mortgage
- Obtain government benefits, including WIC, SNAP, or Medicare/Medicaid
Law enforcement also has the right to seize any assets that they think were used in the crime or that they think helped you achieve the crime. These assets may then be sold. There is the possibility that these assets can be taken even if you’re not convicted, and even if you can prove they were not used in the commission of a crime, nor the result a crime.
What are the collateral damages for a DUI conviction?
If you are found guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, there are severe collateral consequences in addition to mandatory prison time (or home detention) and fines:
- Your license will likely be suspended
- You will need to use an interlock ignition device (IID) if you drive with a restricted license
- Your insurance premiums will go through the roof – if you can even obtain insurance
Criminal convictions can cost you everything. Call Philbrook Law Office for help.
Don’t face criminal charges alone. There are many decisions that need to be made. Do you consider a plea deal? Do you consider a guilty plea? What happens if you aren’t acquitted? At Philbrook Law Office, we’ll explain the obvious consequences – how much prison time a plea or conviction brings, or what the fines are. We’ll also explain the non-obvious penalties, so you have the full picture before you make any decisions. We fight aggressively, at every stage of your case to protect your freedom and your rights.
To schedule a consultation at one of our offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA, please call 360-695-3309 or complete our contact form. We arrange to see clients who are in jail. We also serve the greater Portland area and Oregon State.