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Tampa Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal Defense > Civil Consequences of Criminal Cases

Civil Consequences of Criminal Cases


The direct consequences of a criminal conviction are bad enough. Jails and prisons in the United States hold over two million inmates. The average sentence length has increased in recent years as well. However, even the longest sentence in the most overcrowded prison ends eventually. But to released inmates, the consequences of s criminal conviction might just be beginning.

Some attorneys have a myopic view of criminal defense. They’re only concerned with the direct consequences of a criminal conviction, usually incarceration or probation, because that’s what the law requires. However, a good Tampa criminal defense lawyer is also aware of the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. So, defendants clearly see all the consequences of a criminal conviction, as opposed to some of them.

Protective Orders

A few criminal cases, mostly domestic violence cases, usually involve civil protective orders. Usually, law enforcement officers must inform alleged domestic violence victims of their right to obtain a protective order. Sometimes, these matters start in criminal court. They almost always wind up in civil court.

The distinction matters. In criminal court, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. But in civil court, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, when judges consider these matters, the alleged victim’s testimony, by itself, might be sufficient.

No-contact and kick-out orders might be the most common provisions in a protective order. Generally, no-contact orders mean just that. Defendants are subject to arrest if they simply happen to be in the same place at the same time as an alleged victim. Kick-out orders order defendants to vacate shared residences, even if they’re financially responsible for the rent or mortgage.

Protective orders themselves have significant collateral consequences. To avoid them, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer typically negotiates a consent decree. A consent decree has the same provisions as a protective order, but doesn’t have the dreaded protective order label.


Sooner or later, most criminal offenses also have immigration consequences. That’s especially true if the offense is a:

  • Crime Involving Moral Turpitude: Almost every criminal offense is a CIMT. Moral turpitude is a vague phrase that basically means violent or upsetting. The petty offense exception might apply to some misdemeanors.
  • Aggravated Felony: The State Department frequently changes the offenses it deems to be aggravated felonies. Severe felonies, like sex crimes, aggravated assault and murder, are almost always on the list. Others come and go.

Significantly, deferred disposition is a guilty verdict, according to the State Department, even though the judge doesn’t make such a finding.

If a conviction does not trigger immediate deportation or removal proceedings, it goes on the immigrant’s permanent record. The conviction is a significant black mark during a status adjustment matter.

Immigration issues are difficult, but not impossible, to resolve. Usually, some form of adverse action, such as temporary departure from the country, is inevitable.


Almost any arrest, not just a conviction, could trigger civil forfeiture proceedings. Florida law gives law enforcement agencies broad power to seize any property they believe was purchased with proceeds from a crime or used in the commission of a crime. That could include a house bought partially with illegal funds or a vehicle that’s part of a DUI.

The same lower burden of proof applies in these matters. Additionally, since forfeiture isn’t a criminal proceeding, many Constitutional protections don’t apply.

To resolve a forfeiture matter, an attorney usually negotiates a buyback agreement. The owner pays some money and prosecutors drop the matter.

 Work With a Savvy Hillsborough County Attorney

A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. Convenient payment plans are available.



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