Most people are familiar with the typical punishments for crimes such as prison or fines. However, there are numerous other very specific penalties attached to almost every crime. These are called collateral consequences.
If all your attorney tells you is that you are facing up to X number or days in jail and some amount in fine, that is likely not the entire story. Be sure to find out what the collateral consequences are. An easy way to find out is by going to the ABA’s collateral consequences website, http://www.abacollateralconsequences.org/search/?jurisdiction=39.
Let’s take a crime involving controlled substances in Oklahoma. Go to the ABA website and search for “controlled substance.” That search returns 116 entries. That means a controlled substance conviction in Oklahoma could potentially negatively affect you in up to 116 ways!
Examples of an Oklahoma controlled substance collateral consequence:
- Eligibility for a handgun license
- Eligibility to adopt
- Eligibility for protection from discriminatory housing practices
- Eligibility for bail on appeal
- License to sell low-point beer
- And MANY more!
Looking specifically at the handgun license eligibility, 21 Okl.St.Ann. § 1290.10 outlines the conditions that make someone ineligible for a handgun license. It states, among other things, that any misdemeanor “conviction relating to illegal drug use or possession” results in your being prohibited from getting a license for “TEN YEARS from date of completion of a sentence.” (emphasis added) So, if you plead guilty and are put on probation for five years, then the ten years starts after the five years of probation!
Collateral consequences can be disastrous and are often overlooked. They can jeopardize your livelihood if they affect your ability to do business. And, as noted above, they can affect your ability to protect yourself.
A good lawyer should explain the full range of consequences that a guilty plea entails–not just the maximum prison time and fine. Therefore, a guilty plea should not be taken lightly even if it seems to be the easiest thing to do at that time. As your attorney, I will thoroughly explain the consequences of pleading guilty so that you can make the most informed decision possible. I will also explore every possible avenue to have your case dismissed.
If you have any questions or need a criminal defense attorney call me any time at (405) 633-3420.