Collateral Consequences of a Hawaii Criminal Conviction


Collateral Consequences of a Hawaii Criminal Conviction

Getting convicted of a crime in Hawaii can impact your life in more ways than just the direct punishment like jail time or fines. There are also a bunch of other “collateral consequences” that can make it harder to get a job, go to school, or get government benefits. These extra punishments often last long after someone’s done their time. Let’s break it down so you know what you might be in for if you get convicted.

Trouble Finding Work

One big collateral consequence is having a criminal record can make it way harder to find a job. Most applications ask if you’ve been convicted of a crime. Lots of employers won’t hire someone with a record, even for small stuff. Hawaii law lets employers ask about and consider convictions that are less than 10 years old when making hiring choices (see Hawaii Revised Statutes §378-2).

There are some protections, tho. Hawaii “ban the box” laws say employers can’t ask about criminal history on initial applications – they gotta wait until after an interview or conditional job offer (see HRS §378-2.5). This helps people get their foot in the door. But once that record comes up, it can still cost you the job.

Some convictions make it illegal for employers to hire you for certain jobs, too. For example, if you’re convicted of a crime involving drugs or abuse, you can’t work in healthcare, childcare, or elder care facilities (see HRS §701-312). Financial crimes like fraud or theft can prevent you from working at banks or other businesses that handle money.

Getting your record cleared through expungement or pardons can help with employment. But for stuff like sexual crimes or abusing kids or elderly folks, that conviction will follow you forever career-wise.

Losing Professional Licenses

Lots of jobs require special licenses, like cosmetology, real estate, engineering, teaching, healthcare, etc. If you get convicted of certain offenses, Hawaii can revoke or refuse to grant you a professional license (see HRS §707-700).

For instance, any felony conviction will make you ineligible to be a teacher or work in education. Drug crimes can cost you licenses for healthcare, social work, real estate, and more. Financial crimes like fraud or theft can strip professional licenses related to money management. DUIs and traffic offenses can revoke drivers’ licenses.

Even if your crime doesn’t automatically invalidate your license, the licensing board can still deny you if they decide your conviction makes you unfit. Trying to get pardons or expungement can help restore lost licenses, but it’s an uphill battle.

Losing Gun Rights

Under Hawaii law, anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor can’t own firearms, even after they complete their sentence (see HRS §134-7). Only getting a pardon from the governor can restore your gun rights. There are also federal laws that restrict gun ownership for folks with domestic violence convictions even if their civil rights get restored under state law (see 18 U.S. Code § 922).

Losing Civic Rights

Folks convicted of felonies in Hawaii can’t vote or run for office until they finish parole or probation, even after release from prison (see HRS §11-2). Only getting a pardon from the governor can restore voting rights sooner. Felons also can’t serve on juries in Hawaii.

Housing Troubles

It can be real tough for folks with a criminal record to find housing in Hawaii. Most landlords run background checks and don’t want to rent to people convicted of crimes. Public housing is also off limits – state and federal rules prohibit renting to people with certain criminal histories, especially drug offenses and sex crimes (see 24 CFR §960.204).

Some protections exist in Hawaii against housing discrimination. The state’s fair housing laws say landlords can’t automatically deny you just for having a record, but they can still choose not to rent to you because of it. Getting convictions expunged can help improve chances.

Losing Government Benefits

Having drug felony convictions can make you ineligible for welfare, food stamps, public housing, and federal student aid in Hawaii (see 21 U.S. Code § 862a). Some exceptions exist for folks in treatment programs. Violent offenses can also disqualify you from government cash assistance like SSI or SSDI. And any criminal conviction can be grounds for revoking probation or parole.

Immigration Consequences

For non-citizens, a criminal conviction can totally derail your immigration status and ability to stay in the U.S. Any drug offense and “crimes involving moral turpitude” like fraud, theft, violence against people are deportable offenses (see 8 U.S. Code § 1227). Even minor convictions can get a green card taken away and lead to removal proceedings.

The Bottom Line

Getting convicted of a crime in Hawaii can really mess up large parts of your life even after you’ve done your time. Collateral consequences like losing your job prospects, professional licenses, civic rights, and government benefits can last for years. Certain convictions bring mandatory collateral punishments, but even minor crimes give officials huge discretion to revoke your opportunities. Understanding these hidden costs early on is important if you’re facing criminal charges in Hawaii so you can try to minimize the damage as much as possible.