The True Cost of a Criminal Conviction in NYC: Beyond Fines and Jail Time

The True Cost of a Criminal Conviction in NYC: Beyond Fines and Jail Time

While the immediate legal penalties of criminal convictions – such as jail time, fines, and criminal records – are well documented, there are many hidden costs of a criminal conviction in New York that are less obvious. In many cases, these kinds of ‘hidden’ consequences of a conviction can play a part in your life for longer than most jail sentences would.

In this blog, we’ll explain what these consequences are, how they might be avoided or mitigated – and why these life-changing factors make it absolutely essential that New Yorkers choose the right criminal attorney if they find themselves facing the wrong side of the criminal justice system. 

Probation and Parole in New York City

Beyond jail time or fines, a criminal charge in NYC may result in probation or parole. 

Probation is a court-ordered period of supervision in the community, typically an alternative to imprisonment. Parole, on the other hand, is conditional early release from prison, where the individual released must comply with specific terms. 

These conditions typically include regular meetings with a probation officer, drug testing, and avoiding certain people or locations. Violating these terms can result in severe consequences, including a return to prison. These restrictions can greatly impact an individual’s daily life, limiting personal freedom, employment opportunities, and social interactions.

Sex Offender Registration

If the crime you are convicted of is of a sexual nature, you can be expected to have to register as a sex offender alongside other probation or parole conditions.

In New York, being designated as a sex offender carries with it an array of challenging repercussions. This mandatory registration is not just a legal formality; it profoundly alters a person’s day-to-day life. 

Individuals on the sex offender registry are subject to strict residency restrictions, often barring them from living near schools or parks. What’s more, their personal details, including addresses and offenses, are made publicly accessible, which can lead to social ostracism and harassment. Employment opportunities become severely limited too – as many employers are hesitant to hire registered sex offenders. 

Put simply, this public disclosure and its effects perpetuate a cycle of stigma and scrutiny for people convicted of sex crimes – making reintegration into society a daunting and often isolating journey.

Reputational Damage

While parole, probation, and possible restrictions following a conviction have some fairly obvious restrictions associated with them, less obvious is the damage to a person’s reputation that accompanies felony convictions.

While this is more of a problem in high-profile cases, you shouldn’t underestimate how far news can spread about people who aren’t in the public eye or whose convictions haven’t been covered by the media. It’s not at all uncommon to find that people who had once been friends, associates, or colleagues, or even family members will try to distance themselves from you and the crimes associated with you.

This is a significant factor in creating social isolation in people with criminal convictions – something that also often plays a significant factor in reduced mental wellbeing too.

Immigration Issues

New York is home to around 5.8 million immigrants, with over 2.6 million of those people at risk of deportation. If you’re a non-U.S. citizen and you’re convicted of a crime, it’s highly likely that it will have an impact on your ability to remain in the country.

If you do not yet have citizenship and you are convicted of a violent crime, you’re likely to be removed from the U.S. and barred from re-entry. While lesser crimes are not as likely to result in deportation, they are generally handled on a case-by-case basis, so they cannot be ruled out.

If you are someone who does not have legal status in the US, it doesn’t have to be a felony conviction that leads to immigration problems. Even being found guilty of a misdemeanor crime is possibly going to lead to your removal and barring from the U.S.

Financial Penalties and Problems

While New York is generally viewed as an affluent city, the reality is different. Figures taken in 2021 show that nearly 15% of adult New Yorkers live in poverty. Beyond this, many millions more live without savings – making the financial impact of criminal convictions very hard to deal with.

New York has mandatory surcharges for criminal convictions – with costs of over $300 for felony convictions, $175 for misdemeanors, and $95 for violations. These aren’t seen as punishments as such, instead, they’re a way to raise revenue for the State. 

While these amounts of money may look small to some, they can make a significant impact on people who are living paycheck to paycheck. While calls to eliminate mandatory surcharges or impose a mandatory surcharge sliding scale are being heard, there is still an uncomfortable financial burden for many New York residents to face if they find themselves with a criminal record.

Housing Problems

On top of the other life consequences we’ve explored here, many people who find themselves convicted of a crime will have serious struggles finding housing as a criminal. 

It’s common practice for landlords to carry out background checks on potential residents. While there are limits for discussing your conviction with some, a strong rental market in the city means many will simply refuse to offer tenancy to people with a criminal history.

Unfortunately, these restrictions extend into public housing too. If a person has a drug conviction, a sex crime conviction, or a history of violent crimes, they’re likely to be considered unsuitable for public housing or have a series of complex and time-consuming hoops to jump through before they can apply. In some cases, housing authorities will even stipulate that convicted felons cannot even visit friends of family in their housing – further adding to the social issues that people with criminal records face.

Gun Ownership

While New York already has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the USA, a felony conviction will mean that you cannot apply for a firearm permit – making ownership illegal. This doesn’t just apply in New York State – but also to New Yorkers who move to other states, making it very difficult to leave a criminal past behind.

Are you facing a criminal conviction?

If you’re facing a criminal conviction, it’s absolutely essential that you find the right legal support. Even if the possible legal repercussions aren’t severe, there’s a strong possibility that the collateral damage from a conviction could negatively impact several areas of your life.

At The Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, we’re acutely aware of the damage that a conviction can cause in a person’s wider life – so we’ll do everything in our power to make sure the criminal justice system works for you, not against you. Get in touch today to talk to an experienced criminal lawyer about your case – it’s never too soon to seek legal advice.