New On-line Resource: Collateral Consequences Database

National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction

Reprinted by permission of the American Bar Association:
“The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction—legal sanctions and restrictions imposed upon people because of their criminal record—are hard to find and harder to understand. Now it will be easier to do both. Congress directed the National Institute of Justice to collect and study collateral consequences in all U.S. jurisdictions, and NIJ selected the ABA Criminal Justice Section to perform the necessary research and analysis.  The results are now being made available through this interactive tool.”

Link to the website

What are collateral consequences?
Collateral consequences are the penalties, disabilities, or disadvantages imposed upon a person as a result of a criminal conviction, either automatically by operation of law or by authorized action of an administrative agency or court on a case by case basis. Collateral consequences are distinguished from the direct consequences imposed as part of the court’s judgment at sentencing, which include terms of imprisonment or community supervision, or fines. Put another way, collateral consequences are opportunities and benefits that are no longer fully available to a person, or legal restrictions a person may operate under, because of their criminal conviction. The most familiar examples of collateral consequences are being unable to vote or obtain certain licenses or possess a firearm because of a felony conviction. But, as this Inventory reveals, there are many other kinds of collateral consequences affecting many areas of life, that take many different forms, and that are triggered by many forms of unlawful conduct.” (From the User Guide FAQ’s)

What is the Inventory and how can it be used?
This Inventory is the first effort to systematically collect in one place the
collateral consequences of conviction that exist in the laws and regulations of
every state and in the federal system. Municipal ordinances and government
agency policies are not included, nor are policies developed and imposed by
private entities that are not authorized or required by law. To some users, this
resource represents a way to locate particular collateral consequences that may
be of interest, or to determine the range of consequences that may apply as a result of a particular kind of conviction. To others, this resource provides a broad overview of all the collateral consequences contained in a particular jurisdiction’s laws and regulations. Still others may wish to compare the laws and rules in different states, or do a national search for consequences affecting particular benefits or opportunities.” (From the User Guide FAQ’s)

Users can search for collateral consequences by Jurisdiction, Key Word, Consequence Category (i.e. Employment, Government Benefits, Housing), and by Triggering Offense Category (i.e. Controlled Substances Offense, Any Felony, Motor Vehicle Offenses, Any Misdemeanor)

Jurisdictions so far covered on the website: Federal, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin. The User Guide FAQ’s indicates that the next group of states to be added include: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York (regulations), Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. All states are schedule to be included by December 2013.

Although Hawai‘i is not yet included, the inventory does include collateral consequences as a result of Federal laws, and gives users an idea of the extent to which collateral consequences can and do affect those with criminal convictions. The site also provides basic information regarding the importance of understanding collateral consequences, the role these consequences play in our criminal justice system, and the affect they have on our communities. See the Project Description.


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