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Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Dallas

June 6, 2023
Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Dallas

When someone is convicted of a crime in Dallas, the immediate consequences can be severe: fines, imprisonment, and a criminal record that can make it challenging to find housing, employment, or even education. But the consequences of a criminal conviction don’t always stop there. Many people are surprised to learn about the collateral consequences that can follow them for years or even the rest of their lives.

These collateral consequences can significantly impact every aspect of a person’s life, from their finances to their family relationships to their ability to participate in their community. As Chris Lewis & Associates P.C., a Dallas criminal defense law firm, knows well, understanding these collateral consequences is essential for anyone facing criminal charges or dealing with the aftermath of a conviction. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in Dallas and what you can do to protect your rights and future.

What Are Collateral Consequences?

Collateral consequences refer to the legal and civil penalties that a person convicted of a crime may face in addition to their criminal sentence. These consequences can have long-lasting effects on a person’s life, even after serving their time or completing their probation.

Examples of collateral consequences include:

  • Loss of voting rights
  • Inability to obtain specific licenses or certifications
  • Difficulty finding employment
  • Loss of eligibility for government benefits
  • Deportation for non-citizens

These consequences can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the crime committed. Some states have mandatory collateral consequences, while others allow judges discretion in imposing them.

Why Do Collateral Consequences Matter?

Collateral consequences can have significant impacts on individuals, families, and communities. They can make it difficult for people with criminal records to reintegrate into society and lead productive lives. This can perpetuate cycles of poverty and recidivism.

Furthermore, collateral consequences disproportionately affect marginalized communities, such as people of color and low-income individuals. For example, the loss of voting rights disenfranchises many Black Americans overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

What is Being Done About Collateral Consequences?

In recent years, there has been growing awareness about the negative impacts of collateral consequences. Many states have passed laws to reduce or eliminate these penalties for certain offenses. Some organizations provide resources and support for individuals with criminal records seeking to overcome these barriers.

However, much work must be done to address the systemic issues contributing to collateral consequences. This includes reforming sentencing laws and addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

The Importance of Understanding Collateral Consequences

A lack of awareness about collateral consequences can significantly negatively impact an individual’s life. Understanding the scope and severity of these consequences is crucial to prevent long-term damage. 

Preventing Unforeseen Consequences

Collateral consequences are often unforeseen and can severely impact an individual’s life. These consequences may include loss of voting rights, employment opportunities, housing options, and access to education. Without proper knowledge about collateral consequences, individuals may not realize the extent of their implications until it is too late.

For instance, a person convicted of drug possession in Texas may face restrictions on obtaining federal student loans or grants for higher education. This restriction could significantly limit their ability to pursue academic goals and career aspirations. Similarly, a person convicted of domestic violence may lose their right to bear arms or obtain a concealed carry license.

To avoid any long-term repercussions, it’s crucial to understand all the additional consequences that may result from a criminal conviction before taking any action that could impact your future.

Mitigating Negative Impacts

Knowing the potential repercussions can help individuals take proactive steps toward mitigating negative impacts. For example, if someone understands that their criminal record will appear in background checks conducted by potential employers or landlords, they can expunge their record or seek legal advice on navigating these barriers.

Understanding collateral consequences can help individuals make more informed decisions about plea bargains and sentencing options. If someone knows that pleading guilty to a particular charge will result in a lifetime ban from certain professions or activities they enjoy, they may choose instead to fight the charges in court.

Common Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Dallas

1. Employment Consequences

  • Difficulty Finding Employment

Finding a job can be challenging for anyone, but it can be even more difficult for someone with a criminal record. Many employers conduct background checks on potential employees and may refuse to hire an individual with a criminal record. This is especially true for jobs that require a security clearance or working with vulnerable populations such as children or the elderly.

  • Limited Career Opportunities

Individuals with criminal records often face limited career opportunities due to their past convictions. Certain professions in fields such as law enforcement and healthcare have strict regulations that prevent individuals with particular criminal records from acquiring the required licenses or certifications. Some employers may not consider individuals with criminal histories for promotions or advancement opportunities.

  • Lower Wages

Even if an individual can find employment, they may still face lower wages than their peers without a criminal record. Studies have shown that individuals with criminal records earn less than those without records, even when controlling for education and experience levels. This wage gap can make it difficult for individuals to support themselves and their families.

  • Negative Stigma

Employers may view individuals with criminal records as untrustworthy or unreliable, making securing employment difficult. Unfortunately, a negative stigma is still associated with having a criminal record. This stigma can follow individuals long after serving their time and completing any required rehabilitation programs.

  • Lack of Benefits

Many employers offer employees benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. However, individuals with criminal records may not have access to these benefits due to difficulty finding employment or being hired by companies that do not offer benefits packages.

  • Loss of job opportunities

The loss of job opportunities is one of the most devastating consequences that individuals face after a criminal conviction. It can significantly impact financial stability, mental health, and well-being. In this section, we will explore the various ways in which losing job opportunities can affect individuals who have been convicted of a crime.

  • Financial Instability

One of the most immediate effects of losing job opportunities is financial instability. Individuals who lose their jobs due to a criminal conviction may struggle to find new employment because many employers hesitate to hire someone with a criminal record. This can lead to long periods of unemployment and financial hardship.

Furthermore, even if an individual finds new employment, they may be limited to low-paying jobs that need to provide more income to support themselves or their families adequately. This can lead to further financial strain, making it difficult for them to pay bills, rent or mortgage payments, and other expenses.

  • Mental Health Issues

Losing job opportunities can also have severe mental health implications. The stress and anxiety caused by unemployment can lead to depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health issues. These conditions can make it challenging for individuals to maintain healthy relationships with family and friends or perform daily activities such as cooking or cleaning.

Moreover, the stigma of having a criminal record can exacerbate these mental health issues. Many people convicted of crimes feel ashamed or embarrassed about their past actions and may isolate themselves from others.

  • Social Isolation

Another consequence of losing job opportunities is social isolation. People who lose their jobs due to a criminal conviction often experience social ostracism from friends and family members who disapprove of their actions. This isolation can lead to loneliness and despair, further exacerbating existing mental health issues.

Social isolation makes it more challenging for individuals with criminal records to reintegrate into society successfully. They may struggle to find new friends or romantic partners, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

  • Inability to Obtain Certain Licenses and Certifications

Licensing and certification are essential for many professions, as they validate an individual’s skills, knowledge, and expertise. However, individuals with criminal records may face barriers in obtaining specific licenses and certifications. These collateral consequences can have long-lasting impacts on their ability to secure employment and advance their careers.

  • Barriers to Reentry

The inability to obtain specific licenses or certifications can also create barriers to successful reentry into society after serving in prison. Without stable employment opportunities, individuals may struggle to rebuild their lives and support themselves financially. This can lead them back into the criminal justice system and perpetuate cycles of poverty and recidivism.

The lack of access to certain professions can limit an individual’s ability to contribute positively to society through meaningful work. This harms the individual and has broader implications for economic growth and social welfare implications.

  • The Negative Impact on Career Advancement

Career advancement is one of the main goals of any professional. However, a criminal conviction can significantly negatively impact career progression. The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in Dallas can be severe and long-lasting, making it difficult for individuals to secure employment or advance their careers.

  • Loss of Professional Licenses

Certain professions require individuals to hold professional licenses or certifications. A criminal conviction can result in the revocation or suspension of these licenses, effectively ending an individual’s career in that field.

For example, healthcare professionals such as nurses and doctors must hold licenses issued by the state licensing board. A felony conviction can result in the suspension or revocation of these licenses, preventing them from practicing in their field.

Similarly, attorneys convicted of certain crimes may face disciplinary action from the State Bar Association, including disbarment. This effectively ends their legal career and prevents them from practicing law.

  • Negative Perception from Employers

Even if an individual’s job does not require a professional license or certification, a criminal record can still harm how employers perceive them. Some employers may view individuals with criminal records as untrustworthy or unreliable, making it difficult for them to advance in their careers.

This negative perception can also affect an individual’s ability to network and build relationships within their industry. Professionals with criminal records may find it challenging to attend industry events or conferences, limiting their opportunities to connect with others in their field.

2. Housing Consequences

Denial of Access to Public Housing

Individuals with criminal convictions often face difficulties in obtaining public housing. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), individuals with certain types of criminal convictions are ineligible for public housing. These include individuals who have been convicted of manufacturing or producing methamphetamine, individuals who are registered sex offenders, and individuals who have been evicted from federally assisted housing within the past three years due to drug-related criminal activity.

Even if individuals are not barred from accessing public housing due to criminal convictions, they may face significant barriers. Many public housing authorities conduct background checks on applicants and may deny housing based on a prior criminal record. This can be particularly challenging for individuals who have served in prison and are attempting to rebuild their lives.

Impact on Private Rental Housing

Individuals with criminal convictions may also face challenges in securing private rental housing. Landlords may conduct background checks on prospective tenants and deny them housing based on prior convictions. Even if a landlord is willing to rent to an individual with a criminal conviction, they may require higher security deposits or impose other restrictions.

In some cases, landlords may refuse to rent to individuals with certain types of convictions altogether. For example, landlords may hesitate to rent to individuals with drug-related convictions due to concerns about illegal activity on their property.


The combination of limited access to public and private rental housing can leave individuals with criminal convictions at risk of homelessness. Without stable housing, it can be difficult for these individuals to maintain employment or access necessary services such as healthcare.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, approximately 25% of homeless adults in the United States have a history of incarceration. Homelessness can exacerbate existing mental health conditions and make it more difficult for individuals with criminal records to reintegrate into society.

The Difficulty of Finding Suitable Housing

The search for suitable and affordable housing can be a daunting task, especially in urban areas where the demand is high. The process can be even more challenging for people with criminal records, low income, or poor credit scores. This section will explore some difficulties people face when searching for suitable housing.

  • Limited Affordable Housing Options

Another challenge many people face when searching for housing is limited affordable options. As rent prices continue to rise in many urban areas, it becomes increasingly difficult for low-income families to find affordable homes. This issue is compounded by many cities needing more public housing options.

The lack of affordable housing often forces families to live in substandard conditions or overcrowded apartments, leading to health problems and other issues. Many low-income families are forced to trade between paying rent and other essential expenses such as food, healthcare, or education.

  • Credit Scores as Barriers

Another factor that contributes to difficulty finding suitable housing is poor credit scores. Many landlords use credit scores to screen potential tenants before renting out their properties. Unfortunately, this practice disproportionately affects low-income families who may have struggled financially.

People with poor credit scores often face higher security deposits or may be denied housing altogether. This practice further exacerbates the cycle of poverty and makes it difficult for families to find suitable accommodation.

Denial of rental applications

You might discover the ideal residence only to receive a rejection letter or email from the landlord or property manager regarding your application. Why did you get rejected? What can you do? 

  • Insufficient Income or Credit Score

Landlords and property managers want to ensure you can pay rent on time and in full monthly. They may ask for proof of employment, bank statements, and credit reports. If you provide enough evidence, they may accept your application.

However, landlords and property managers must follow fair housing laws when screening tenants. They cannot discriminate against applicants based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (having children under 18), disability (physical or mental), age (over 40), marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, veteran/military status, source of income (such as public assistance), or any other protected characteristic under federal/state/local law. 

  • Criminal Background Check

Another reason for the denial of rental applications is criminal background checks. Landlords and property managers may conduct such checks to find out whether an applicant has been convicted of certain crimes, such as drug offenses, violent crimes, or property crimes. They may also consider arrests, charges, or pending cases that have not yet been resolved. Depending on the nature and severity of the offense, they may decide to deny an application based on safety concerns, liability risks, or community standards.

However, landlords and property managers must follow fair housing laws when using criminal background checks. They cannot have a blanket policy that excludes all applicants with a criminal record without considering individual circumstances and rehabilitation efforts. They should also avoid using arrest records or convictions that are too old or unrelated to housing as the sole basis for denial. 

3. Educational Consequences

Education is one of the most important aspects of life, and obtaining a good education can open up many opportunities for an individual. However, a criminal conviction can seriously affect one’s educational prospects. In this section, we will discuss the various consequences that may arise due to a criminal conviction.

  • Difficulty in Obtaining Financial Aid

One of the most significant educational consequences of a criminal conviction is difficulty in obtaining financial aid. A criminal record can make qualifying for federal student loans and grants challenging. According to the Federal Student Aid website, individuals with drug-related convictions are ineligible for federal student aid unless they complete an approved rehabilitation program or pass two unannounced drug tests conducted by an approved drug rehabilitation program.

This restriction can be particularly challenging for those who rely on financial aid to pay for their education. Without access to federal student loans and grants, many students may struggle to afford tuition fees or other expenses associated with attending college or university.

  • Impact on Academic Performance

A criminal conviction can also have an impact on academic performance. Students facing legal issues may struggle to focus on their studies and maintain good grades. If they are required to serve time in jail or prison, they will miss classes and fall behind on coursework.

Moreover, students with criminal records may face discrimination or stigma from their peers and teachers, affecting their self-esteem and academic performance. This can lead to a vicious cycle in which poor academic performance leads to further difficulties obtaining employment or financial aid.

  • Loss of scholarships

Scholarships are a crucial component of many students’ education. They provide financial assistance that can make the difference between attending college or not. However, losing a scholarship can devastate a student’s future.

  • Difficulty obtaining admission to certain schools

Limited access to education is a significant problem that affects many students. One of the most common causes is difficulty obtaining admission to certain schools. This can be due to academic performance, financial constraints, or discrimination. In this section, we will explore why students may struggle to gain admission to specific educational institutions.

4. Voting Rights Consequences

One of the most fundamental rights of American citizenship is the right to vote. Unfortunately, a criminal conviction in Texas can result in losing this right, at least temporarily. Under Texas law, incarcerated individuals on probation or parole for a felony conviction are not eligible to register to vote. This means they must take additional steps to restore their voting rights after completing their sentence.

The restoration of the voting rights process in Texas can be complex and time-consuming, requiring individuals to file paperwork, pay fees, and potentially attend a hearing. Many people need to be made aware of their right to have their voting rights restored, or they may face barriers to completing the process, such as lack of access to transportation or difficulty obtaining the necessary documents.

Despite these obstacles, it is crucial that individuals with criminal convictions who are eligible to vote take advantage of this opportunity. Voting is a right and a responsibility that grants individuals a voice in policies and leaders that impact their lives. 

5. Immigration Consequences

Immigration consequences are one of the most significant collateral consequences that can arise from a criminal conviction. These consequences can be severe and long-lasting, affecting not only the individual who has been convicted but also their family members and loved ones. This section will discuss how a criminal conviction can impact an individual’s immigration status.

  • Deportation and Removal Proceedings

One of the most severe immigration consequences of a criminal conviction is deportation or removal proceedings. If an individual is not a U.S. citizen, they may be subject to removal proceedings if convicted of certain crimes. Even lawful permanent residents (green card holders) can face deportation if convicted of certain crimes, including aggravated felonies.

The consequences of deportation or removal proceedings can devastate individuals and their families. They may be separated from their loved ones and forced to leave their homes, jobs, and communities behind. Once deported, it may be difficult or impossible for them to return to the United States.

  • Inadmissibility

Another potential consequence of a criminal conviction is inadmissibility. This means an individual may be barred from entering or re-entering the United States if convicted of certain crimes. Inadmissibility can apply even if an individual has already been granted a visa or green card.

Inadmissibility can have far-reaching effects on an individual’s life and plans. It may prevent them from visiting family members who live in the United States or pursuing educational or employment opportunities here.

  • Loss of Eligibility for Immigration Benefits

A criminal conviction can also result in loss of eligibility for certain immigration benefits. For example, individuals convicted of domestic violence may be ineligible to sponsor family members for visas or green cards.

This loss of eligibility for immigration benefits can make it more difficult for individuals to reunite with their families or pursue other opportunities in the United States.

  • Ineligibility for citizenship

Certain criminal convictions can result in ineligibility for citizenship and trigger deportation or removal from the United States for non-citizens.

Under U.S. immigration law, individuals convicted of certain crimes are barred from obtaining citizenship, even if they have lived in the United States for many years.

The crimes that can lead to ineligibility for citizenship are “crimes of moral turpitude” and “aggravated felonies.” Examples of crimes of moral turpitude include theft, fraud, and crimes involving dishonesty, while aggravated felonies can consist of severe drug offenses, violent crimes, and some sex offenses.

A person convicted of these crimes can be permanently barred from obtaining citizenship, irrespective of completing their sentence and living a lawful life afterward.

Non-citizens facing criminal charges must work with proficient criminal defense lawyers knowledgeable about the immigration outcomes of a conviction due to the severity of the consequences.

6. Financial Consequences

The financial consequences of a criminal conviction in Dallas can be severe and long-lasting. In addition to fines, court costs, and legal fees, a criminal conviction can result in job loss, difficulty finding employment, loss of professional licenses or certifications, and damage to credit scores.

  • Loss of Income

One of the most immediate financial consequences of a criminal conviction is the potential loss of income. If you are convicted of a crime and have to serve time in jail or prison, you may lose your job or be unable to work while incarcerated. Even if you are not incarcerated, you may find it challenging to find work with a criminal record. Many employers conduct background checks on prospective employees and may choose not to hire someone with a criminal history.

  • Difficulty Finding Employment

Even if you can find work after a conviction, your earning potential may be limited. For fraud, finding work in finance or accounting may be difficult if you have been convicted of theft or fraud. Some industries require background checks for all employees or prohibit hiring individuals with certain convictions.

  • Loss of Professional Licenses/Certifications

If you hold a professional license or certification (such as an attorney, doctor, nurse, or teacher), a criminal conviction could result in the revocation or suspension of that license/certification. This could prevent you from working in your chosen profession altogether.

  • Damage to Credit Scores

A criminal conviction can also have an impact on your credit score. If you cannot pay fines and court costs associated with your case due to financial hardship caused by job loss or difficulty finding employment after the conviction, this could lead to collections actions and negative marks on your credit report.

7. Social Consequences

  • Stigma and Discrimination

A criminal conviction can have severe social consequences beyond legal penalties. One of the most significant issues is the stigma of having a criminal record. Individuals with a criminal record are often discriminated against in various aspects of life, including employment, housing, education, and even personal relationships. This discrimination can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s self-esteem and mental health.

  • Employment

Finding employment is one of the most significant challenges for individuals with a criminal record. Many employers conduct background checks as part of their hiring process, which can disqualify someone from consideration if they have a criminal history. Some jobs require state licenses or certifications that may be denied to individuals with certain types of convictions. This exclusion from job opportunities can lead to financial instability and poverty.

  • Housing

Finding suitable housing can also be challenging for individuals with a criminal record. Landlords may refuse to rent to someone with a criminal history, leaving them homeless or in substandard conditions. This lack of stable housing can exacerbate other problems, such as unemployment and substance abuse.

  • Education

Individuals with a criminal record may also face barriers. Due to drug convictions or other offenses, financial aid may be limited or unavailable.

  • Family Relationships

A criminal conviction can also strain personal relationships, particularly within families. Family members may feel ashamed or embarrassed by the actions of their loved ones and distance themselves as a result. The individual’s children may experience bullying or discrimination at school due to their parent’s conviction.

8. Psychological Consequences

Being convicted of a crime can have severe consequences beyond legal penalties. In Dallas, Texas, individuals found guilty of criminal offenses may also face psychological collateral consequences that can impact their mental health and overall well-being. In this article, we will explore three of the most common psychological collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in Dallas.

  • Depression and anxiety

Being convicted of a crime can be an extremely stressful and traumatic experience. Even after the legal proceedings have concluded, individuals may experience anxiety, fear, and uncertainty about their future. This can lead to the development of depression and anxiety disorders, which can profoundly impact an individual’s mental health and quality of life.

Symptoms of depression may include persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in once enjoyable activities, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions. Anxiety disorders may involve excessive worrying, panic attacks, and avoidance behaviors.

  • Loss of self-esteem

A criminal conviction can also significantly impact an individual’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. The stigma of being a convicted criminal can lead to shame, guilt, and embarrassment, affecting an individual’s self-image.

Loss of self-esteem can lead to a range of negative consequences, including social isolation, difficulty forming and maintaining relationships, and decreased motivation and productivity. It can also contribute to developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

  • Difficulty reintegrating into society

After serving their sentence, convicted individuals may struggle to reintegrate into society. The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can make it challenging to find employment, housing, and other essential resources. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and a lack of direction. Difficulty reintegrating into society can also lead to social isolation and disconnection from the broader community. 


A criminal conviction in Dallas can have a wide range of collateral consequences that extend far beyond the immediate penalties imposed by the criminal justice system. From the loss of employment and housing to voting rights and immigration consequences, the impact of a conviction can be severe and long-lasting. That’s why it’s crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney like Chris Lewis & Associates P.C., who can help minimize the adverse effects of a conviction and protect your rights and future. Don’t hesitate to contact Chris Lewis & Associates P.C. with any questions. 

Educating ourselves about the collateral consequences of criminal convictions is essential, as advocating for changes in the criminal justice system that promote fairness, equity, and rehabilitation. Together, we can work towards a system that recognizes the humanity and potential of every individual, regardless of their past mistakes.


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