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.
Collateral consequences are scattered throughout state and federal statutory and regulatory codes and can be unknown even to those responsible for their administration and enforcement. There is often a lack of coordination in different sections of state and federal codes, which makes it difficult to identify all of the penalties and disabilities that may be triggered by a particular conviction.
In recognition of the rapid proliferation of collateral consequences and the increase in the number of people affected by them, the federal Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 (Pub. L. 110-177 § 510, 121 Stat. 2534, 2544) directed the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to collect and analyze the collateral consequences in place in each U.S. jurisdiction. In 2012, the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association (ABA) began work on the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction (NICCC), an online searchable database that identifies and categorizes the statutes and regulations that impose collateral consequences in all 50 states, the federal system, and the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
In 2017, the administration and maintenance of the NICCC was assumed by the CSG Justice Center, which continues to update the NICCC data to account for statutory and regulatory changes across all of the NICCC’s jurisdictions. In 2018, the CSG Justice Center completed a reconstruction of the NICCC user interface and data structure in an effort to improve the usability and sustainability of the resource.
Detailed information about the NICCC’s organization and usage can be found on the Help page of the site.
The information available on the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction does not constitute legal advice and does not include judicial interpretations of statutory and regulatory language.
Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse this website (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided). The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/ exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice or the American Bar Association. NIJ defines publications as any planned, written, visual or sound material substantively based on the project, formally prepared by the award recipient for dissemination to the public.