All criminal convictions have both direct consequences, such as jail time or court supervision, and collateral consequences, like immigration problems. One of the most significant collateral consequences of a conviction is the conviction itself. Convicted criminals often go through life with targets on their backs. Their credibility suffers, both in court and in the everyday world. Additionally, police officers always look their way when something around them goes wrong.
Reasonable bail, which is guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment, is probably one of the most important guarantees in the Bill of Rights.
Most people know that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence is rather unique to American law. In many other parts of the world, defendants are presumed guilty until they prove their innocence.
Generally, officers must have search warrants to seize physical evidence, such as illegal drugs. However, in many of these cases, things happen so quickly that officers do not bother with search warrants. Despite the prohibition against warrantless searches in the Fourth Amendment, the seized evidence might still be admissible.
White collar crime is an umbrella term for a number of nonviolent crimes which usually involve theft of money or services.
California passed the first sex offender registration law way back in 1947. These laws became increasingly common beginning in the 1980s, culminating with the federal Jacob Wetterling Act in 1994. Patty Wetterling, who lobbied extensively for this legislation following the death of her son, now condemns sex offender registration laws as overly harsh. But that's the subject of another blog.
Jail release is more than personal convenience. It's also more than in the best interests of your job and family. It's even more than the best thing for your mental state. If the defendant is incarcerated, it's almost impossible to mount a successful defense.
Both misdemeanor and felony convictions have serious collateral consequences. Many people with such records have a hard time obtaining certain professional licenses, finding a nice place to live, obtaining student financial aid, and finding a good job.
In recent years, many states have all but eliminated their criminal laws which prohibit marijuana possession. On January 1, 2020, Illinois became the latest state to legalize recreational weed. However, marijuana possession is still illegal in Texas. As a matter of fact, the Lone Star State has one of the toughest marijuana possession laws in the country. A single joint could mean up to six months in jail.
Criminal appeals are not easy to win. Typically, appeals court judges do not like to second-guess a jury's verdict. These judges are even less likely to overturn a judicial colleague's decision. Additionally, proving there was an error at trial is not enough. The law is quite clear that defendants are entitled to a fair trial, but not a perfect one.