When someone is facing criminal charges they usually worry about the effects on family, reputation and their freedom. And while one’s freedom is of primary importance, there are also serious collateral consequences from a guilty plea or conviction. The loss of voting rights, inability to own firearms, loss or suspension of professional licenses and freedom of movement are some of the long-lasting effects of a criminal record.

In addition to travel restrictions that may be imposed by probation, parole or the court, many countries will not allow entry of persons with criminal records. Some countries only ban visitors with recent, serious criminal violations, while others are much stricter and ban those with even minor or very old convictions. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are particularly vigilant about visitors with even relatively minor criminal records. The United Kingdom routinely denies entry to visitors with convictions that are less than 10 years old or ones that resulted in prison sentences of 30 months or more. European Union countries are generally less restrictive, but may prohibit entry if the sentence was greater than 3 years.

Entry into the United States is strictly monitored by U.S. Customs. Visitors convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude and aggravated felonies are prohibited from entry or obtaining Visas. These categories of crimes are very broad and encompass most types of offenses.

Just recently, U.S. citizens who have been convicted of sex offenses against children will be issued special passports that contain a declaration stating that fact. Under new legislation known as International Meagan’s Law, Homeland Security will notify the State Department to revoke the passports of citizens with these types of convictions. They will then be issued a new passport containing a declaration of the offense. This new law is intended to “protect children and others from sexual abuse and exploitation, including sex trafficking and sex tourism.”

When planning to travel abroad, those with convictions should check the country’s website for specific information about the types of offenses that will prohibit their entry.

Stahl Criminal Defense Lawyers aggressively defend individuals charged with complex federal and state crimes. Founder Robert G. Stahl is recognized as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the NY/NJ area for his skills, knowledge and success. To contact us to discuss your case, call 908.301.9001 for our NJ office and 212.755.3300 for our NYC office, or email us at rstahl@stahlesq.com