Collateral Consequences of Federal Crimes in Houston, TX

Collateral consequences come with any type of criminal conviction. Under state law, these are consequences that exist outside of the statutory penalties of jail time or fines. They can include the loss of a scholarship, forfeiture of voting rights, or difficultly maintaining employment, to name a few.

Collateral consequences in federal offenses work differently. In addition to these informal consequences described above, there are additional collateral repercussions that are written into federal law. Understanding these consequences could help a person facing criminal charges understand what they are up against. 

If you are concerned about the collateral consequences you might face, it is vital to seek out an attorney with experience defending federal crimes. Attorney Doug Murphy has a track record of success in federal court and is ready to discuss your legal options with you.

Collateral Consequences of a Federal Conviction

There are more than 1,000 potential collateral consequences that could come with a conviction for a federal offense. Some of these offenses only apply in limited scenarios or following a conviction for specific offenses. Others apply to virtually every federal defendant. Below, we discuss some of the most common or impactful collateral consequences under federal law.

Ban from Serving on a Federal Jury

A federal conviction in certain instances will prevent you from ever serving on a federal jury. According to 28 U.S.C. § 1865(b)(5), a conviction of any crime punishable by more than one year will bar a person from serving on a federal grand or petit jury. In fact, this statute bars federal jury service for anyone convicted of a state or federal crime that meets this criterion. The only way to earn back this right is through a pardon.

Loss of the Right to Hold Federal Office or Employment

In general, the United States Constitution does not prevent a citizen from holding federal elected office following a criminal conviction in federal court, with a few important exceptions. Anyone convicted of treason is forever barred from serving as a federal elected official. Also, 18 U.S.C. § 2381 prevents anyone convicted of bribery from holding federal office.

Generally, a criminal conviction alone will not bar a person from obtaining a federal job, but it is a factor that the Office of Personnel Management will consider during the hiring process.

Limited Employment in Banking, Commodities, or Securities

Certain federal offenses can impact your ability to work in the banking, commodities, or securities industry. In general, these convictions relate to an offense involving fraud, dishonesty, breach of trust, or money laundering.

According to 12 U.S.C §§ 1818(e), (g)(1)(c), and 1829(a), a conviction of one of these offenses will prevent your employment in the financial sector. What's more, you may not own, control, or participate in the affairs of these financial institutions in any way. This includes working in a position affiliated with a financial institution but which is not actually a position at the financial institution. Examples include anything from employees, managers, agents, and even controlling stockholders.

There are some ways around this collateral consequence. For example, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) could waive this requirement. This waiver may be obtained at least 10 years after a conviction becomes final. The court can also waive this requirement at sentencing at the request of the FDIC. Both the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission censure individuals or prevent them from trading futures or stocks altogether.

Limited Employment with Labor Organizations or Employee Benefit Plans

There are limitations in place under 29 U.S.C. § 504 on serving as an employee in certain labor organizations. The same is true for any type of employment working with an employee benefit plan. This prohibition includes serving in the capacity as consultant, director, advisor, or board member for these groups.

This limitation only exists following certain types of convictions, many of which are white-collar crimes. Examples include:

  • Bribery
  • Robbery
  • Extortion
  • Embezzlement
  • Assault with Intent to Kill
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Drug Violations
  • Arson
  • Grand Larceny

This prohibition will not last forever. According to the statute, these employment limitations are lifted after 13 years or at the end of the defendant's imprisonment, whichever is later. The courts also have the power to remove this disqualification.

Discharge from Active Military Reserve Duty

Members of the active military reserve could find themselves discharged following a criminal conviction. According to 10 U.S.C. § 12312, One of the grounds for discharge is the conviction of a federal crime that includes a sentence of confinement.

Reserve members typically enjoy protections from discharge. In many cases, they are entitled to a hearing before a board of officers prior to their release. This is not the case following a federal conviction where imprisonment is involved.

Disqualification from Federal Defense Contracts

There are thousands of businesses and individuals that contract with the federal government. Following a conviction of certain federal crimes, you will no longer be allowed to be one of them. Not every federal offense will lead to this disqualification. According to 10 U.S.C. §2408(a), any person convicted of fraud or a felony related to a Department of Defense contract is barred from working as a defense contractor or first-tier subcontractor. This prohibition lasts five years unless the Secretary of Defense selects a longer penalty. This prohibition bars employment with a defense contractor or subcontractor, as well as serving on their board of directors or even directly consulting with them. The Secretary of Defense has the right to waive this disqualification in the interest of national security.

Immigration Ban

Any alien is barred from admission to the United States following a conviction of certain federal crimes. In some cases, a mere admission of committing these crimes is enough to bar their entry. This collateral consequence occurs when an alien is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or when they are sentenced to multiple crimes that carry a combined prison term of at least five years. With crimes of moral turpitude, there are is an exception when an alien is convicted of a single offense when they were under the age of 18.

There are also consequences for anyone that has been granted asylum. According to 8 CFR 208.24, a grant of asylum may be terminated by the United States Citizen and Immigration Services following any criminal conviction that would have disqualified them from entry originally. These criminal convictions can involve a variety of serious felonies or acts of terrorism.

Ineligibility for Student Loans

Any person convicted of federal drug crimes is ineligible for certain student loan programs operated by the federal government. According to 34 CFR 668.40, a student may not receive Title IV student loan funds if they are convicted of a federal drug crime. This could involve the possession or sale of any controlled substance illegal under federal law. A student with a drug conviction could regain their eligibility for their loans by completing a drug rehabilitation program that meets specific criteria. These criteria include random drug testing, and they must be operated or recognized by a state, federal, or local government entity.

Students with student loans at the time of their conviction could see those loan amounts accelerated following a conviction. According to 34 CFR 682.208, students convicted of an act of fraud that involves a federal student loan could be required to pay back the loan balance immediately.

Inability to Discharge Debt in Bankruptcy

The ability of a debtor in Chapter 11 or 13 bankruptcy to discharge a debt upon completion of the case could be impacted by a criminal conviction. It is not the conviction itself that could make discharge problematic. According to 11 U.S.C. § 1328, the court may not discharge any fines owed due to a criminal conviction. What's more, the courts are also prevented from discharging any amount of restitution that was included in the sentence of federal crime.

The Importance of an Aggressive, Strategic Federal Defense Counsel in Houston, TX

These are only a few of the potential collateral consequences that come with a federal conviction in a Houston court. For a thorough understanding of how these collateral consequences could impact your life, it is vital that you speak with an experienced defense attorney right away.

The guidance an attorney with experience taking on federal cases could provide starts with understanding the charges you face. By grasping the statutory and collateral consequences that are possible, you are better informed when it comes to developing a trial strategy.

Your attorney could also advise you on how to deal with these consequences following a conviction. In many cases, they can be resolved or eliminated by the trial court. In other cases, including disqualification for student loans, it might be possible to reverse that disqualification through drug rehab or other programs.

Most importantly, your attorney will give you the chance to defeat these charges and avoid a conviction entirely. Remember: if you win at trial, you will never face any of these consequences.

Attorney Doug Murphy has experience taking on the federal government and winning. He can help you understand what to expect during the process and assist you in developing a winning trial strategy. Schedule a free consultation with the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to learn more.

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