Collateral Consequences of Criminal Charges: Ezekiel Elliott

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Effective January 1, 2017, Illinois requires judges to provide expanded admonishments with respect to guilty pleas. Admonishments are warnings of certain consequences read by the judge to a defendant prior to the judge accepting a plea bargain. The new admonishments includes a warning that in addition to any penalties imposed by the court, there may be certain collateral consequences. See 725 ILCS 5/113-4. In theory, the enhanced admonishments are intended to allow an accused to make a better, more informed decision. In practice, the enhanced admonishments will limit appeals based on claims of “I-did-not-know” and claims based of “my-lawyer-did-not-tell-me.”

The new law requires that, before a guilty plea can be accepted, the judge must explain to the defendant the following:

  • The maximum and minimum penalty that the judge is allowed to impose
  • That, as a consequence of the plea of guilty, a future sentence for a future criminal conviction may be increased
  • That, as a consequence of the plea of guilty, if there is a future criminal conviction, consecutive sentences are more likely to be imposed
  • That, as a consequence the plea of guilty, there may be registration requirements that restrict where the defendant may work, live, or be present
  • That, as a consequence of a conviction or a plea of guilty, there may be an impact upon the defendant’s ability to, among other things, retain or obtain housing in the public or private market, retain or obtain employment, and retain or obtain a firearm, an occupational license, or a driver’s license.

Ezekiel Elliott: Real-World Hypothetical of Collateral Consequences

The warning that a conviction may affect future employment is more than a remote hypothetical. In the case of Ezekiel Elliott, the mere uncharged and unproven accusation of a crime has resulted in both public embarrassment and the loss of millions.

As many people probably know, Ezekiel Elliott is an NFL running back for the Dallas Cowboys. He was accused by his former girlfriend of several episodes of violence and physical abuse back in July of 2016. She claimed that Elliott hit her and caused injuries to her face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrists, hips, and knees. She gave statements to the Columbus Police Department and provided photos of the injuries. See report here.

Prosecutors in Columbus declined to prosecute Elliott. It is reported that the prosecutor’s office and the NFL investigators told Elliott that the woman had lied about one of the alleged incidents and that a witness had stated that no assault had occurred. Elliott’s attorneys also challenged the ex-girlfriend’s story, saying the injuries happened when Elliott and the woman were not together.

However, the NFL did its own investigation into the allegations and decided to suspend Elliott for six games for violating the NFL’s code of conduct (which prohibits domestic abuse). All appeals have been exhausted. See report here.

Application to the Illinois Admonishment Statute

 While Elliott was not prosecuted, his case is an interesting example about the possible unforeseen consequences from criminal charges. The lesson is, of course, that criminal charges, either with or without a conviction, can have an enormous impact on your future earning capacity. By being suspended, it is estimated that Elliott is losing $1.5 million in pay and that he is losing contractual rights to certain guaranteed money which is normally provided in the event of injury.

So often, individuals who are criminally charged, are unaware that a plea to quickly resolve their situation, could have long-term effects by crippling their future earnings prospects. The new Illinois Admonishment Statute attempts to inform defendants of these potential severe and unexpected consequences.

Contact the Ivec Law Firm

The bottom line is that when criminal charges are possible, threatened, and/or issued, it is essential to immediately seek excellent criminal defense counsel like JohnPaul Ivec to protect your rights and, frankly, to protect your wallet and your future earning capacity. As the Elliott case shows, there are significant collateral consequences of being accused of a crime, even if no charges are brought. Contact criminal defense attorney JohnPaul Ivec and the Ivec Law Firm, P.C. today at (815) 439-9909 for a free consultation, or by email using this form on the Firm’s website.

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