Getting a felony conviction has a long-term impact on many aspects of your life, even if you do not go to prison. Therefore, it is essential to work with your lawyer to help you fight the charges in order to get them dropped, reduced, or to persuade a jury to return a verdict of not guilty. Criminal defense firms like The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall do this every day. We outline some ways a criminal record can impact your life below.
Criminal Penalties are Expensive
You have to pay for your own probation, GPS monitoring, ignition interlock devices, and court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment, in addition to fines and sometimes restitution. You have to pay even more to get your drivers’ license reinstated.
Some people do an admirable job of using their time in prison to build their knowledge and skills for a better life after their release, but everyone would have preferred to have spent that time out in the community. Other criminal punishments, such as probation, are time-consuming, too.
Every day that you spend in jail or prison is a day you spend out of the workforce, losing out on valuable income. Even if you are not incarcerated, you still have to take time away from work to attend probation appointments and other court-ordered commitments and to perform court-ordered community service.
Yes, your family and friends will visit you in prison, and you can call them on the phone and exchange letters, but once your sentence ends, you will have a lot of work to do to rebuild your relationships with the closest people in your life.
Exclusion From Some Professions
A felony conviction on your record can make it difficult or impossible to get certain types of professional licenses in New Jersey, such as a nursing license or a commercial pilot’s license.
Loss of Some Legal Rights
In New Jersey, you do not lose your voting rights for felony convictions that do not include a prison sentence. If you are sentenced to prison, you get your voting rights back as soon as you are released. A felony conviction means a lifetime ban on owning firearms, even if you bought your gun legally before being charged with a crime.
Tougher Penalties for Subsequent Convictions
For most crimes, the penalties are lighter when the conviction is a first offense. If you avoided incarceration with your first conviction, this may not be possible the second time.
Pre-Employment Background Checks
Arrests and criminal convictions appear on background checks, so having a criminal conviction on your record can make it much harder to find employment.
Housing Background Checks
When you apply to rent an apartment, prospective landlords will also see the criminal record on a background check.
Family Court Cases
You still have the right to parent your children if you have a criminal record, but for some crimes, the court might order you to have supervised parenting time in the beginning after your sentencing or your release from jail or prison. Your ex also might try to make you look bad in front of the family court by talking about a criminal conviction you received before your children were born.
Incarceration is one of the scariest and most stressful things a person can experience, and these experiences continue to affect your perceptions and emotions even after your release.
The Long Road to Expungement
It is possible to get criminal convictions expunged from your record, but it is neither easy nor quick to accomplish this.