Facing any kind of criminal charge isn’t easy, so it’s understandable if you’re worried about your future.
Frankly, your worries are well-founded. Even without a conviction, the mere presence of charges on your record can be very stigmatizing. If you’re ultimately convicted of wrongdoing, your criminal record may haunt your life far into the future.
6 ways that a criminal history can affect your life
Depending upon your situation, a criminal charge or conviction can have numerous collateral consequences in the following areas:
- Employment opportunities: One of the most significant challenges individuals with criminal records face is finding employment. Many employers conduct background checks, and a criminal record can act as a barrier to job prospects – and you could be barred entirely from careers in law enforcement, finance or the government.
- Education and professional licenses: Universities and colleges may deny admission or impose limitations based on your criminal record. Additionally, professional licensing boards may use your criminal history to deny you a license in fields such as healthcare, law or education.
- Housing applications: A criminal record can make it challenging to secure housing, especially in competitive rental markets, because landlords often do background checks.
- Social stigmas: Prejudice and stereotypes about people with criminal records can create barriers to social acceptance and can lead to discrimination and isolation.
- Civil liberties: A criminal conviction can have lasting implications on your civil liberties, including your voting rights, your ability to own firearms, international travel restrictions and your access to certain government programs.
- Subsequent charges: If you have a previous criminal conviction on your record and you’re ever convicted of a second crime, you would be subjected to harsher penalties as a “repeat offender.”
What you can do to minimize the impact of criminal charges on your life
First, if your case is still pending, you’ll need to explore all the available defense options that you may have. Experienced legal guidance is the best way to obtain a favorable outcome for your case. Second, if the charges are in the past, you may want to explore the possibility of having your record sealed so that it ceases to be a barrier in your life. Either way, it is important to remember that you almost certainly aren’t powerless in this regard.