The Challenges Of Having A Criminal Record
Most people are blissfully unaware that with every small crime or misdemeanor committed, there’s a very real possibility of a hugely unpleasant future. People who commit small, petty crimes often do so without thinking about the lifetime consequences of having a criminal record; the formal record of offenses that somebody has been arrested for, cautioned for or convicted of, whether they pled guilty or not guilty. If a person is found not guilty in court, it will not appear on their record, but anything else will.
Even if you did not get charged with a crime or convicted in court, arrest or citation records could get in the way of landing certain jobs, or at the least lead to some uncomfortable future conversations.
How Do You End Up with a Criminal Record?
Getting a criminal record is much easier than most people realize. And, very few people are even aware that simply following bad advice, taking shortcuts, or doing any little thing that is against the law has the potential to ruin the rest of their lives.
A criminal record does not always mean that a person has committed a serious crime like murder, rape or grand theft auto – a criminal record can be a result of much smaller, petty crimes – even if no harm came to anybody during the process.
Shoplifting, fraud, and even traffic offenses can lead to criminal records. Keep this in mind next time you drive without your seatbelt on, drive after drinking even one glass of alcohol, or go over the speed limit on the highway. That split-second decision that you probably made without giving much thought to does have the potential to ruin the rest of your life.
Once you have any kind of criminal record – arrest records, citation records, and conviction records – they will be available on your public file. Most of the time, this information is available to anybody.
In fact, you can even check the information on your own criminal background and confirm your records are accurate using a service like Public Records Reviews. Using the site, all you need to do is enter your personal information like your name, address, date of birth and social security number and you will have instant access to the information that’s available about your past.
What Are the Effects of Having a Criminal Record?
Having a criminal record can impact a person’s life in several different ways.
It can have very serious implications when trying to find employment, for example. It’s a common misconception that only people who have been convicted of serious crimes are turned down by employers; the smallest misdemeanor could be enough to put a potential employer off hiring an otherwise stellar employee and opt for an alternative applicant with a clean record instead. Some employers view any level of past criminal activity as too risky.
In addition, a person with a criminal record may find it harder to travel. This could affect serious things like work; a job where you’re required to travel to other countries, for example, might be unwilling or simply unable to take you on if you have any kind of criminal record, regardless of how perfect a fit you are for the role otherwise. And of course, it can affect your freedom to vacation where you choose; many countries will not grant visas to somebody with a criminal record.
Can You Clear Your Criminal Record?
The good news is that in the case of certain crimes, you can apply to have your criminal record cleared, offering you a fresh, clean slate to start over. But in the case of more serious crimes, you may need to accept the fact that your criminal record is staying with you for life.
Most of the time, a person will only be able to apply to have their criminal record cleared if a certain amount of time has passed since the date of conviction, and as long as they have not been convicted of any other offenses in the meantime. For other types of records such as arrest records or citation records without a court conviction, clearing it may be easier.
You can also apply to have your criminal record sealed, which means that while the record will still exist, it can no longer be accessed by employers or the public.
Once you have filed for criminal record sealing or expungement, you have a potentially lengthy process ahead of you. The court will look into your criminal history to decide whether or not you qualify, and there will usually be a hearing to assess the information. It’s best that you attend and contact a criminal attorney to represent you, as you may need their assistance with answering questions and protecting your interests.
No matter how small, any criminal record has the potential to seriously disrupt the rest of your life.
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