Completing a criminal sentence successfully is a daunting task. It can require acceptance of the loss of freedoms that we take for granted. If you are sentenced to jail or prison, you literally lose your liberty and much of the control over your daily life. Even if you are sentenced to probation, you could have to abstain from alcohol or drug use, submit to random drug and alcohol tests, and lose your right to drive a vehicle for long periods of time. In addition, you could owe expensive court costs and fines that must be paid within a set time limit or you could risk being sentenced to prison. Unfortunately, the implications of a conviction can last long after you fulfill the requirements of your sentence.
What Are the Long-Term Consequences of a Criminal Conviction?
Whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, the aftermath of a criminal conviction can filter into many important areas of your life. A major negative ramification is that you will have a permanent criminal record. Here are just some of the ways that a criminal conviction can change your life:
- Employment. Because the job market is often tight, employers can be selective about who they interview and hire. Having to list a criminal conviction on a job application can result in you not even being selected for an interview—at least for a good, well-paying job. Some convictions will exclude you from certain professions or stop you from getting the license you need to work in that profession. For example, a school district would not hire a person with a sex offender conviction.
- Loans. You may find it difficult to obtain a mortgage, auto loan, business loan, or other loan due to your criminal conviction. Some lenders will deny loan applications which list a criminal conviction, seeing this as impacting on a person’s character and ability to repay the loan or consider him a high-risk borrower.
- Student loans. While a conviction does not automatically eliminate your eligibility for financial aid for college, it could impact on your ability to qualify. If you were convicted of the possession or sale of illegal drugs, you could be ineligible for assistance.
- Landlords. Landlords often conduct background checks before approving a prospective tenant. A landlord could consider you a credit risk if you have a criminal record, especially if you were convicted of a felony. Your housing options could be even more limited if you have been convicted of a sexual offense.
- Sexual offender registry. If you are convicted of certain sexual offenses, you could be required to register on a state sexual offender register. This could limit where you can live and negatively impact on your ability to obtain a job. In addition, the public can search these registries and learn of your conviction, which may have occurred years ago.
- Voting. In some states, you could lose your right to vote, serve on a jury, or hold a public office if you are convicted of a felony.
- Immigration status. Your conviction could have serious implications for your immigration status. You could be denied the right to enter or remain in the United States, denied citizenship, and face deportation.
- Travel. Even a misdemeanor conviction can limit your ability to travel to other countries. Some, such as Canada, may refuse to admit a person into their country who has been convicted of certain misdemeanors or felonies.
- Security clearance. Being arrested or convicted of a crime may affect your security clearance—and your ability to do your job. A number of factors are considered in giving and renewing a security clearance, such as overall character, loyalty, honesty, and financial responsibility. A criminal conviction can negatively impact many of these factors and could result in the denial or revocation of a security clearance.
- Custody. A judge is required to consider the best interests of the children in awarding custody. Your character and ability to be a good parent could be called into question in a custody battle if you have been convicted of committing a crime.
If you have been charged with a crime, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you lessen the long-term ramifications of a criminal conviction. At Greenspun Shapiro PC, our criminal defense legal team understands how a criminal conviction can negatively impact your life and are committed to helping you build a strong defense to reduce the short-term and long-term consequences. To learn how we can help you, call our office today to schedule a free consultation.