If you get accused of a serious crime, such as a felony sex crime, you may immediately start wondering about the penalties. You’re not even in court yet, and maybe you didn’t do anything wrong, but it’s natural to think about the worst-case scenario. Say you get convicted. What type of jail time are you looking at? Will you have to pay fines? Will you need to do community service?

It is important to consider these things, but you also want to look at the collateral consequences. These issues can have a dramatic impact on your life, even after you get out. For instance, you may:

  • Not be able to hold certain types of jobs, even if this was the line of work you were in before
  • Not be able to live in certain areas
  • Not be able to go near specific buildings, such as schools
  • Lose some of your rights, such as the right to vote or to own a firearm
  • Lose your job, even when it’s not prohibited, simply because of the jail time

If you get out of jail, it’s not as if you can pick your life back up where you left off. You no longer have your job. You can’t get another one. You can’t find anywhere to live. The authorities let you out as if you can just jump back into society, but that’s not how it works. This changes your entire life.

That’s why it is so incredibly important to understand your legal rights when facing any allegations. You have to think about what is at stake. You have to consider the long-term ramifications. You have to know what steps you can take.