When people talk with a criminal defense lawyer about cases against them, they often focus on concerns about jail time and fines. However, defendants should understand that criminal penalties can extend far beyond sitting in a cell, doing community service, and forking over some money. A criminal defense law group will encourage its clients to appreciate these other potential forms of punishment.
One of the more onerous penalties is a registration requirement. This is when the government compels a convicted person to place their name on an offender list. Most people associate the registration requirement with state-level sex offender lists. However, individuals convicted of aggravated violent felonies may also have to register on lists that prevent them from buying guns or even knives. The no-fly list is a common penalty for offenses committed on airplanes or in terminals, and it's also common for terrorism convictions.
Some of these registrations require you to report your presence on the list, too. If a sex offender moves into a neighborhood, many state laws require the person to notify their neighbors. They usually have to notify law enforcement at the city or county level, too.
Some convictions also carry employment restrictions. For example, an individual convicted of fraud might be barred from working in finance or a position of public trust. The armed services may discharge members following convictions, too. Many potential employers also ask on forms if applicants have felony convictions.
Following a conviction, the government may also bar you from associating with certain people. Even if these individuals are family members or lifelong friends, the government may restrict contact. Domestic battery convictions sometimes include stipulations pertaining to a defendant's former partner or even their children. Gang and organized crime convictions may lead to association restriction, also.
Trying to Avoid Further Penalties
When a criminal defense attorney and client meet, they need to discuss these kinds of penalties and how to try to avoid them. If there is a high probability of a conviction, a criminal defense lawyer may recommend negotiating with the prosecution to plead guilty to a charge that doesn't carry these additional penalties.
A criminal defense law firm might also ask the judge to reduce or dismiss certain charges. For example, your criminal defense lawyer might try to show that there are problems with the state's evidence or that the charges are too extreme relative to similar cases.