When you plead guilty or are found guilty of a criminal offense in South Carolina, there may be civil consequences that go along with that conviction. These are consequences not imposed directly by a Judge but mandated as part of a particular law. Even after someone has served their jail time or completed probation, there are still penalties that go along with that conviction and can continue to affect every aspect of their lives.
Almost all criminal convictions carry a collateral consequence, or civil penalty. A few of the most common collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are losing your right to vote, losing or having a professional license suspended or, if pleading to a drug offense, becoming ineligible to receive some public funds for services like welfare benefits, food stamps or public housing. These collateral consequences can also keep students from receiving financial aid. If you are convicted of a sex crime, you would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
One of the most controversial collateral consequences is losing your right to own a gun. State law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony, crime of violence and misdemeanor domestic violence offences, from owning a firearm. Federal law also prohibits anyone who has been convicted of a felony that carries more than a year in jail from owning a firearm. This exemption includes the possession of ammunition. Those under restraining orders are also prohibited from owning a weapon until that restraint is lifted. Gun rights can only be restored if these charges are eventually pardoned or expunged.
Other collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in South Carolina include asset and vehicle forfeiture, suspension of your driver’s license, job loss and deportation. These consequences can have very serious implications that will follow you for the rest of your life and should be seriously considered if facing criminal charges.
In some cases, you can have your criminal record expunged or pardoned. An expungement clears your criminal history but only certain charges can be expunged. A pardon can also be granted but this will not erase your criminal history, only restore your constitutional rights. Therefore, before considering whether to plead guilty to a criminal charge, it is important to speak to a criminal defense attorney who can advise you about all collateral consequences you could potentially face as a result of a criminal conviction.
If you or your loved one has been charged with a crime the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Templeton Mims & Ward are here to help. Our experience in Criminal law will help to make sure that you get the best possible results in your case.