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What are the Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Texas?

Criminal convictions can have serious and sometimes surprising direct and indirect consequences to the offender. The direct consequences are generally pretty obvious and do not warrant much discussion. For example: if an individual is convicted of a drug offense the direct consequences are the terms and conditions of probation and the fine. What are the indirect consequences?

Indirect consequences of a criminal conviction are called collateral consequences. Collateral consequences are not laid out in a single statute. Rather, they are scattered throughout various Texas code books and statutes. Collateral consequences can be broken down into two broad categories: a) Financial, b) and restrictions on your rights and privileges as an American.

a) Collateral financial consequences:

1) Employment: The Texas Occupations Code Section 53.021 allow the Texas licensing authorities to revoke, suspend, or deny licensure to anybody convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime of moral turpitude. The list of occupations that require a license to long to list but here are a few: doctor, lawyer, teacher, barber, stock broker, architect, interior designer, nurse, firefighter, law enforcement, real estate agent, plumber, CPA. A crime of moral turpitude is defined as conduct that is base, vile, depraved, or inherently immoral. A few crimes of moral turpitude are: prostitution, theft, money laundering, sex crimes, and family violence.

2) Loss of funding and or federal assistance: Several forms of educational funding are unavailable to those convicted of a felony offense or a crime or moral turpitude. In short, students who have been convicted of any offense involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance can be ineligible for Federal Student Loans and grants.

3) Asset forfeiture:is possible in both Texas State Courts and Federal Courts, especially in narcotics cases. As I have discussed in previous articles, asset forfeiture can include not just cash and cars, but homes and businesses as well.

4) Surcharges: As of September 1, 2003 the Texas Legislature passed new legislation that imposes surcharges upon individuals who have been convicted of certain offenses. For example: In Texas DWI conviction will result in a minimum surcharge of $1000.00 per year for three years. This surcharge is separate and distinct from the fine and Court costs associated with the criminal case.

b) Restrictions on an individuals rights and privileges:

1) Firearms: Both state and federal laws restrict the possession of firearms for certain convictions. Generally, an individual convicted of a felony or family violence cannot possess a firearm or ammunition.

2) Drivers license restrictions: Texas imposes a wide variety of suspensions upon conviction of certain offenses. The suspensions can range from 60 days to up two 2 years.

3) Loss of Passport Privileges: The Federal government retains broad discretion in denying and or revoking the passports of individuals convicted of certain offenses.

4) Civil Rights and Privileges: A criminal conviction can result in the loss of several civil rights under Texas law. Namely: the right to vote, jury service, and the right to run and or hold a public office.

5) Divorce and Child Custody: a conviction for family violence, including both physical and sexual abuse, can have serious consequence regarding divorce and custody issues.

If you have any questions about this article, or any criminal law matter please contact the Law Office of G. Thayer Williamson at 214-824-9461.