Collateral consequences of criminal convictions, also called “collateral sanctions,” are legal penalties that take away rights, access to programs or services, or that impose another type of disadvantage that may not be part of a person’s sentence. When properly administered, such sanctions can play an important role in achieving articulable government objectives. But many such sanctions bear no relation to an underlying offense and undermine such goals. These sanctions may be technical disabilities such as the revocation of a driver’s license, or they can prevent employment, access to human services, or even the right to vote.
The ABA believes collateral sanctions should be explained before a person pleads guilty to an offense or at sentencing, and that there should be a formal process to appeal for relief from collateral sanctions. The ABA supports limiting or repealing collateral consequences, particularly when they no rational connection to the underlying offense. Formal guidance on the ABA’s position is captured in, but not limited to, the ABA Standards for Criminal Justice, Chapter on Collateral Sanctions and Discretionary Disqualification of Convicted Persons. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/criminal_justice/publications/criminal_justice_section_archive/crimjust_standards_collateral_blk/#1.1