Having a criminal record will alter your life more than you may realize and for far longer than you might realize. Apart from paying any fines and/or being incarcerated, you can have the weight of a criminal record hanging around your neck for the rest of your life.
You will need to deal with what the U.S. Department of Justice calls “collateral consequences.” Here are some of those that may affect you:
- Restrictions on job opportunities or certain positions
- Ineligibility for subsidized housing
- Inability to access financial aid for education
- Disenfranchisement (being unable to vote) during imprisonment
- Limited parental rights
- Obligation to report your movements to the police
- Suspension of driving privileges
The concept of repaying your debt to society and then being free to continue your life as before is a fantasy.
A conviction may affect your family as well
If a conviction reduces your ability to earn an income or get a college education, it could reduce your family’s standard of living and perhaps your kids’ chance to go to college. Your family may also face prejudices from others. For example, neighbors may accuse your parents of not bringing you up properly or theorize that your spouse must have known what you are doing. Your kids may find themselves isolated as parents decide they do not want their children hanging out with “criminals.”
These potential consequences and more demonstrate the importance of exploring all possible avenues to contest any charges you may face. With so much at stake for you and your family, you’ll want legal help to learn more.