10 Ways a Criminal Record Hurts Your Future & How a Right Lawyer Can HelpPublished: Oct 28, 2023 in Criminal Defense
Living with a criminal conviction in Texas extends beyond your sentence. Even if you avoid time in custody and deal with charges through probation, house arrest, or a suspended sentence, the ripple effect of a conviction on your record will influence multiple facets of your life, casting a shadow over your entire future.
No matter the offense or seemingly favorable plea offer in exchange for pleading guilty, you need to think long-term and consider what a lasting conviction means. When in doubt, consult an experienced criminal lawyer in your area who can evaluate your situation and work to secure the best possible outcome because convictions are not guaranteed.
There’s a lot a qualified criminal defense attorney can do.
The Gravity of a Criminal Record
When you’re convicted of a crime, that conviction becomes a part of the public record, accessible to anyone conducting a background check. From minor infractions like marijuana possession to felonies for theft, or acts of violence, your entire criminal history becomes an open book.
When people face criminal charges, many quickly accept a conviction in hopes of resolving things. But they are not thinking about the future implications.
Given the significance of background checks today—from potential employers and housing agencies to loan providers—any blemish on your record can become a hurdle. This stark reality underscores the importance of fighting any criminal charge.
10 Drawbacks of a Criminal Record
A criminal record brings many challenges beyond jail, probation, fines, and sex offender registration. Here are some of the tangible challenges and setbacks associated with carrying a mark on your record.
1. Difficulty Securing Employment
Both misdemeanors and felonies can hinder your job prospects. Employers may be apprehensive about hiring individuals with a record, especially for roles demanding trust and responsibility. For instance, a past theft conviction could be seen as a mark of untrustworthiness.
Even if your conviction was years ago, potential employers might still harbor concerns about a repeat offense or the reputation risks involved, especially if your role would include handling funds or valuable assets.
2. Challenges in Finding Housing
A criminal record can be a red flag for landlords and housing agencies. Not only does this affect you, but it can also impact your family. Struggling to find a safe and affordable place to live can disrupt family dynamics, especially concerning matters like child custody. In some instances, certain convictions can even bar you from subsidized housing, pushing them toward the grim reality of homelessness.
3. Barriers to Education
Higher education quickly becomes out of reach for many with drug or sex crime convictions, as they might be ineligible for federal student aid. Though rehabilitation programs can sometimes reinstate this eligibility, the temporary inaccessibility can disrupt educational pursuits significantly.
4. Professional Licensing Issues
A criminal record can still haunt you even if you secure employment or further your education. Many professions, especially medical, legal, financial, real estate, and cosmetology, require licensure. These licensing bodies often scrutinize your past; a criminal conviction can raise questions about your suitability for the profession.
Imagine spending years studying to become a registered nurse, only to be denied a license when the state board denies your application due to a DUI conviction from a few years ago.
5. Restrictions on Firearm Ownership
Texas imposes stringent rules on firearm ownership for those with criminal convictions. Convicted felons must wait for a designated period after their prison sentence or parole to legally own a firearm, and even then, there are restrictions on where they can have it. If you are found with a gun in your vehicle or elsewhere, you can be charged with unlawful firearm possession.
6. Loan Application Denials
Financial institutions might view individuals with a criminal record as high-risk, potentially leading to higher rates or outright denials for loans or credit cards. This can make homeownership, starting a business, or many endeavors more difficult.
7. Child Custody Issues
If you’re involved in a custody dispute, a criminal record can be used against you in court, potentially influencing custody or visitation rights. For instance, if, during a divorce, your ex-spouse brings up a past domestic assault conviction or drug charge, it can cast doubt on your ability to provide a safe environment for your kids.
8. Travel Restrictions & Immigration Problems
In addition to convictions that can result in deportation or denial of a citizenship application, some countries restrict or deny entry to individuals with certain convictions. This can limit your ability to travel internationally. For example, if you’re planning a trip to Canada, you should be aware that you’ll likely be denied entry at the border because of a past DWI.
9. Reputation Damage
Beyond the legal and logistical challenges, having a criminal record can also impact personal and professional relationships. Convictions are public records; anyone interested can find your case’s details. This can lead to stigmatization from your neighbors and severely hurt your reputation in the community.
10: Greater Risk for Subsequent Charges
The legal system is tough on repeat offenders. Therefore, if you have a prior criminal record and are convicted of another crime, you will likely face enhanced penalties or sentencing. For instance, a second DUI conviction might result in a longer license suspension or mandatory jail time than a first-time offender.
The Value of a Defense Attorney in Protecting Your Record
These real-world effects can be overwhelming and frustrating. It underscores the importance of understanding the potential long-term impact of accepting and living with a criminal conviction on your record. It also highlights the need to take matters seriously by consulting a skilled defense lawyer.
Beyond the immediate consequences, the long-term repercussions of a criminal record can be profound and far-reaching. But your situation is far from hopeless because the right attorney can make a difference.
Comprehensive Legal Advice
A criminal defense attorney brings a wealth of knowledge about the legal system. Their experience ensures that every legal avenue is explored, from scrutinizing the evidence to identifying procedural errors that could lead to the dismissal or reduction of charges.
Imagine being charged with a crime based on evidence obtained without a proper search warrant. Your defense attorney can challenge the admissibility of such evidence, potentially leading to a more favorable outcome for you.
Negotiate a Favorable Plea
Not every case goes to trial. A capable lawyer can often negotiate with prosecutors to reduce your charges, significantly decreasing a conviction’s penalties and long-term implications. Sometimes, you can secure a resolution that lets you expunge your record or otherwise improve your circumstances.
For instance, if you’re facing a felony for theft, your attorney might negotiate it down to a misdemeanor with reduced penalties, ensuring you avoid the severe implications of a felony conviction.
Protect Your Rights – Now & Later
Your rights need safeguarding from the moment of arrest to the final verdict. A defense attorney ensures that you’re treated fairly and that any violation of your rights is promptly addressed.
If you’re pressured into stating without being informed of your right to remain silent, a lawyer can argue that your statement should be excluded from the proceedings. Likewise, a lawyer can help you evaluate how accepting a conviction will impact you down the line. Taking your case to court may make more sense if it will hurt your chances of returning to school or securing a professional license.
Provide Emotional & Logistical Support
Legal battles can be draining, both emotionally and mentally. Having a lawyer provides reassurance, guidance, and a clear roadmap, helping to alleviate the stress and uncertainty.
Cost-Efficient in the Long Run
While hiring an attorney might seem like a significant expense, it can save you a lot of money in the long run. The financial benefits can outweigh the initial legal fees by avoiding hefty fines, reducing sentences, or even getting charges dropped.
It can be tempting to try and represent yourself or go with a public defender, but this might lead to missed opportunities for a better outcome. With a dedicated attorney, you’re more likely to receive a more favorable financial outcome.
Facing Charges? Think Ahead & Act Now.
The impact of a conviction doesn’t end with jail time and fines. If you’ve been arrested in Houston, whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony, you need to take it seriously. A criminal record, even for what may seem like a minor crime, can have significant consequences.
Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767. Your freedom, reputation, and peace of mind are worth it. As a former prosecutor and experienced defense attorney, Ned Barnett knows how convictions can impact the rest of a person’s life and what can be done to help.
Attorney Barnett is a fierce advocate for the accused and a careful strategist for his clients. Let us review what happened, advise you, and fight to get the best possible outcome.