Do We Need So Many Collateral Consequences for Nonviolent Drug Offenders? [Infographic]

Federal laws and regulations can impose collateral consequences on individuals convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. Collateral consequences impact the rights and entitlements of individuals with criminal convictions.

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Illustration if we need so many collateral consequences for nonviolent drug offenders

Table of Contents

What are Collateral Consequences?

Collateral consequences are civil restrictions imposed by federal laws and regulations. In a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), nonviolent drug offenders are subject to over 600 collateral consequences if convicted of a drug offense. These civil restrictions have an impact on the rights and entitlements of all individuals with criminal convictions. The GAO report revealed that close to 641 civil restrictions and rules can apply to nonviolent drug offenses that do not involve any attempted, threatened or actual use of physical force.

Collateral consequences for nonviolent drug offenses can impact many areas of a person’s life. Civil restrictions impact a person’s housing and employment opportunities, as well as constitutional rights to vote and carry firearms. A drug attorney often sees collateral consequences that restrict a person’s life to the point that they are encouraged to return to a life of crime. Because of imposed collateral consequences, many nonviolent drug offenders have difficulty resuming personal and professional activities and leading a normal lifestyle. Of the 641 federal collateral consequences for nonviolent drug offenders, 497 may impose restrictions for life. Only 131 restrictions allow individuals to earn relief by completing rehabilitation. For offenders convicted of criminal offenses at both federal and state levels, 60 to 70% of collateral consequences restrict employment opportunities as a way to protect public safety.

According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, the most frequently identified nonviolent crimes involve drug possession, drug trafficking, burglary, and larceny. Statistics show the following:

  • Three out of four inmates released from state prisons have been convicted of nonviolent crimes.
  • Drug offenses and property offenses account for approximately one-third of the crimes.
  • Drug trafficking is the single largest offense of nonviolent offenders released from prisons.
  • Within three years of release, 7 in 10 nonviolent offenders are rearrested for a new crime.
  • Among nonviolent offenders released from prisons, one in five is rearrested for committing a violent crime within three years.

In Minnesota, drug crimes cover a broad range of offenses that can violate federal and state laws. Nonviolent offenses such as drug manufacturing and distribution, drug sales and trafficking, and drug possession are often charged as misdemeanors, but felony charges may apply depending on the type and amount of drugs and the circumstances of the crime.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Minnesota recently passed a public safety bill that brings sweeping changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. While minors sometimes run afoul of the law, the juvenile justice system seeks to account for the differences between children and adults. Therefore, while the penalties for adults convicted of crimes focus on punishment, those for juveniles are aimed at diversion and restorative practices.
If a county medical examiner’s work is called into question in one case, it can affect all those they were a part of. An independent review is underway of murder cases involving the testimony of the long-time medical examiner in Ramsey County, Minnesota. The review comes in response to a wrongful murder conviction that was recently vacated on the basis that the medical examiner gave flawed medical testimony.
You might ask how plea bargains work if you are considering settling your criminal case by skipping the trial phase. A plea bargain in Minneapolis, MN, happens when a criminal defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest instead of having the prosecution prove his or her guilt at trial. The prosecution agrees to reduce the charges, recommend less harsh penalties, or drop the charges altogether in exchange for a guilty plea.