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Debt to Society

Collateral consequences for a criminal record


He was convicted of possession of cocaine. A half-gram earned him a felony conviction, six months probation and a $100 fine. That was 25 years ago.

Darrell Langdon, a 52-year-old father of two, was offense-free, raised two boys as a single parent, and worked hard ever since. In 2010, he applied for a job with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and appeared to get the job, until his criminal record disqualified him from working in a public school.

The collateral consequences of criminal conviction, known as the Four C’s, are sanctions and limitations faced by individuals not as apparent as probation or a fine.  Shadowing a person decades into the future, collateral consequences result from felony convictions, and some misdemeanors, too.

In Pennsylvania, conviction on certain offenses affects ability to adopt a child, obtain certain types of employment, and qualify for public housing.

For those with criminal records in Kutztown or Reading, our firm reviews client cases for expungement, pardons, or other action to mitigate further social and employment damage.  For those without criminal records, we work hard to avoid conviction in the first place.

With help, Mr. Langdon obtained a certificate of good conduct from a Cook County judge that lifted the regulatory barrier to his employment.  In July 2010, Mr. Langdon was offered the job by CPS.  While Mr. Langdon got a second chance, most do not — and spend their lives paying a debt to society that may never end.

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