During the course of some years doing our job defending people, we have seen quite a few instances where the law has gaps or failures in the process that can unexpectedly catch people in messy legal situations. In some cases that we have seen, the individual might not even know that they have been put in a bad situation until a routine traffic stop. Warrants can be issued for your arrest without your knowledge. Jurisdiction for a proceeding might switch to a state with different laws unintentionally. Unethical but not unlawful debt collections can be brought against you. How can you protect yourself from these situations so you don't get hit for thousands of dollars in court and law fees or worse, fines? Read more

US Citizen Spouses who sponsor an alien spouse for a green card in the United States should be aware of the requirements and obligations involved with the Affidavit of Support.

Sponsors of an immigrant spouse are required, during the process of gaining legal resident status to sign an Affidavit of Support. It's one of the numerous documents involved in the process and, as with many documents of this nature, has details that are quite easy to over look. Read more

A law was passed recently that makes sharing a personal text intended for you with someone else a crime if that text meets certain criteria and causes harm to the person. Generally, this pertains to sexually explicit or suggestive photos that are texted to one individual and then passed on to another without express permission. Read more

legal collateral consequences victim

If someone is convicted of a crime under the U.S. legal system, the court determines a punishment. In some cases, the punishment is mild. This includes fines or mandatory participation in community service. Punishments are codified and are interpreted within reason during the punishment phase. In most cases, you can be certain that if you are convicted of X, you will receive punishment X.

Unfortunately, that is just the beginning. In the event of a conviction, severe penalties are levied. Opportunities and benefits available to normal people are taken away.  Some of these losses can be severe and it is important to be aware of the consequences.

The common term for this loss is collateral consequences. When a conviction is final they are levied automatically. Application is often left to the discretion of different agencies depending on established guidelines.

What you see isn't necessarily what you'll get

Suppose that you were convicted of a misdemeanor in Texas. You automatically lose the right to register as a qualified air conditioning/refrigeration technician. If you work for a childcare facility, the legal system informs your employer. Physicians face a particularly long list of disadvantages if they are convicted. The list of penalties you can face is vast. In fact, there are more than 50 potential penalties you might suffer when convicted.

These collateral consequences vary depending on location and type of conviction. Some of these penalties are damaging and permanent. Curious about how bad it can get? Check here at the American Bar Association database on collateral consequences.

We want you to know how important it is to secure competent legal help. A poor result in a criminal trial can damage and restrict your future possibilities. If you are facing even minor charges, you must do whatever you have to get good legal counsel. The alternative could be quite unpleasant.

Contact Rogers Garcia Patton now if you or someone you love needs trusted, competent legal counsel.