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Collateral consequences are legal and regulatory sanctions and restrictions that limit or prohibit people with criminal records from accessing employment, occupational licensing, housing, voting, education, and other opportunities.

The information about collateral consequences accessible through this website is solely for educational and informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.

What are collateral consequences?

Collateral consequences are legal and regulatory restrictions that limit or prohibit people convicted of crimes from accessing employment, business and occupational licensing, housing, voting, education, and other rights, benefits, and opportunities.

Some collateral consequences serve a legitimate public safety or regulatory function, such as keeping firearms out of the hands of people convicted of violent offenses, prohibiting people convicted of assault or physical abuse from working with children or the elderly, or barring people convicted of fraud from positions of public trust. Others are directly related to a particular crime, such as registration requirements for sex offenders or driver’s license restrictions for people convicted of serious traffic offenses. But some collateral consequences apply without regard to the relationship between the crime and opportunity being restricted, such as the revocation of a business license after conviction of any felony. Frequently consequences also apply without consideration of the time passed between the conviction and the opportunity being sought or the person’s rehabilitation efforts since the conviction.

Featured Resources

Fair Chance Licensing Project webpageFair Chance Licensing Project: States Expand Access to In-Demand Jobs
The Council of State Governments Justice Center (November 2021)

As states across the nation struggle with labor shortages, The Council of State Governments Justice Center launched the Fair Chance Licensing Project, an unprecedented effort to track new reforms across all 50 states that reduce barriers to employment for people with criminal and juvenile records. The project also provides resources for lawmakers, business leaders, workforce organizations, and community advocates to explore how these reforms, known as “fair chance licensing,” can help address the current worker shortage.

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