Editor’s note: This past year has seen a burgeoning of scholarship dealing with collateral consequences broadly defined, from lawyers, social scientists, and philosophers. CCRC’s good friend Alessandro Corda has selected fifteen notable articles published in 2018-19, with information, links, and abstracts. They are organized into five categories:
(1) Legal collateral consequences
(2) Collateral consequences and criminal procedure
(3) Sex offender registration laws
(4) Informal collateral consequences
(5) Criminal records, expungement, sealing, and other relief mechanisms
A complete and regularly updated collection of scholarship on issues relating to collateral consequences and criminal records can be found on our “Books & Articles” page. From time to time we will preview and comment on new articles, and Alessandro has promised to provide another round-up by the end of the year. We hope he will continue indefinitely in the role of CCRC’s official bibliographer. (A PDF copy of this scholarship round-up is here.)
Two provocative new scholarly articles examine the extent to which the crisp line historically drawn in law between felonies and misdemeanors is becoming increasingly ephemeral. In Informed Misdemeanor Sentencing, Jenny Roberts points out that conviction of a misdemeanor has become exponentially more serious in recent years as the associated collateral consequences have increased in number and severity. She urges judges to “explicitly acknowledge the many serious collateral consequences an individual suffers after any penal sanction, and incorporate those into the sentencing process to ensure that punishment is proportionate.” She recommends that sentencing courts should make “more use of deferred adjudication as well as expungement and related mechanisms for mitigating the unintended effects of a misdemeanor conviction.”
Jack Chin and John Ormonde make essentially the same point about the blurring of the old distinction between felony and misdemeanor in a forthcoming article in the Minnesota Law Review. In Infamous Misdemeanors and the Grand Jury Clause, they point out that “[i]n the late 19th and early 20th century, the Supreme Court held in a series of cases, never overruled, that to charge an infamous misdemeanor required a grand jury indictment.” They conclude that, because of the stigma that attaches to any criminal record, the Fifth Amendment requires that “many more federal offenses should be prosecuted by grand jury indictment than is now the practice.”
It is impossible to determine exactly how many of the 48,000 consequences collected in the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction are triggered by a misdemeanor conviction, but so many legal and regulatory consequences attach to specific categories of offenses that include misdemeanors (e.g., drug crimes, sexual offenses, crimes involving dishonesty), it is likely a substantial portion. Moreover, given the ubiquity of criminal background checking pervading every area of modern life, even a criminal record involving dismissed misdemeanor charges may result in discrimination and exclusion.
Below are the abstracts for these two articles:
Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s decisions in Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe, 538 U.S. 1 (2003) and Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003), state courts are coming to different conclusions under their own constitutions about whether sex offender registration and notification laws constitute punishment for purposes of due process and ex post facto analysis. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the most recent to invalidate mandatory registration requirements imposed on juveniles, but several state supreme courts have limited the retroactive application of registration requirements to adults under an ex post facto analysis.
Below is another excerpt from the second edition of Love, Roberts & Klingele, Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction: Law, Policy & Practice (West/NACDL, 2d ed. 2015)(forthcoming), this one about restrictions on international travel based on criminal record. The first section discusses the subject in general terms, while the second section describes restrictions on travel to Canada for individuals with a foreign conviction, and the methods of overcoming these restrictions. (An earlier post described methods of neutralizing Canadian convictions for purposes of travel to the U.S.)
Below is another excerpt from the second edition of Love, Roberts & Klingele, Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction: Law, Policy & Practice (West/NACDL, 2d ed. 2015)(forthcoming), this one about challenges to firearms-related collateral consequences based on the constitutional right to bear arms. Criminal defense lawyers representing clients on felon-in-possession charges, and anyone seeking restoration of firearms rights after conviction, will be interested to know that the government has appealed the district court’s decision in Binderup v. Holder cited in note 8, discussed here a few weeks ago.
Binderup is a civil rights action in which the federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that the federal felon-in-possession statute could not constitutionally be applied to an individual convicted of a non-violent sex offense in 1998 and sentenced to probation. This case, the first in which a federal court invalidated a federal statute on Second Amendment grounds, is likely to provide an early opportunity for the court of appeals to consider an issue that most commentators and some courts believe was left unresolved by the Supreme Court in D.C. v. Heller.