Getting a criminal record will change your life more than you realize. In fact, it will affect your life more than most people realize.
If you ask people what happens when someone is convicted of a crime, they might reply with something like, “You do the crime, you do the time.” It is a common misconception that you are once again a free man or free woman when you complete your sentence. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice suggests it is a long way from the truth.
A criminal conviction will lead to you losing some of your civil rights
The study looked into what many call the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. The things that are not implicit in the sentence a judge hands down: Some are mandatory, some the judge can give at their discretion. Here are some of the rights you could lose:
- The right to work in specific jobs or hold particular posts
- The right to apply for subsidized housing
- The right to receive financial aid with education
- The right to vote while in prison
- The right to spend time with your children
- The right to move without telling the police
- The right to drive a vehicle
Completing a sentence is supposed to mean you have paid for what you have done and paid your debt to society. These collateral consequences show that society may not agree. Under the current rules, picking up a criminal conviction makes you a second-class citizen with fewer rights than others.
There are many ways to fight the charges against you, and despite what the prosecution wants you to believe, you always have a chance of winning. Understanding the full range of defense options available is crucial to preserving your rights.