By Jordan McDowell.
When most people think of being convicted of a crime, they usually imagine the repercussions of jail or prison time.
Some might even think of the court fees, restitution, and probation that typically come with being a convicted criminal.
Still, there are even more consequences that can affect your everyday life. Learn more about how a past criminal conviction could hurt you long-term — even after you get out of prison and repay your debt to society.
It’s therefore important to consult the best lawyer for your case who will educate you on the consequences of a past criminal conviction and how it can ruin your future.
Future Employment Concerns
It’s often a battle when it comes to getting a job after prison. Even if you’ve committed a minor crime, potential bosses may find out about it during a background check and deny you employment.
Applications almost always ask about your criminal history. You might see a question asking if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony, while others simply asked if you’ve ever been charged. You may see questions about prior arrests or any other involvement with the justice system as well.
While some jurisdictions prevent employers from using your criminal background as a basis for denying you a position, these protections are not universal.
If you think you live in an area where asking about criminal history or denying jobs based on criminal history is illegal, you need to know your rights and protect yourself.
Criminal background checks are standard practice in many industries. They reveal the existence of a criminal history and may be enough for employers to refuse your application.
A background check may just be a look into basic government records as well as extensive investigations that require interviews from friends, family, and past employers.
Your Civil Liberties.
The minute you’re convicted of a crime, some laws automatically apply to you and restrict your civil liberties. Each state is different, but some limitations you may face in most American states include:
- Prohibition from voting while in prison
- Exclusion from jury duty
- Prohibition from owning a firearm
Some other limitations include:
- Ineligibility to serve as a representative of a deceased person’s estate
- Inability to operate pyrotechnic displays
- Exclusion from attending public school
- Denial of apartment rental applications
Besides the restrictions created by each state, you also have to consider the federal limitations that may now apply to you. The American Bar Association records over 1,000 federal restrictions and limits that may apply to you depending on the crime. Some limits include:
- Ineligibility to receive disaster assistance.
- A prohibition from applying for student loans
- Ineligibility to apply for federal jobs
- Barred from obtaining certain certifications or business licensing
A criminal conviction affects how society views you. You might notice that friends and family are no longer as friendly, and some people may completely cut you out of their lives. Discrimination against convicted criminals is pretty widespread, and even if someone has been wrongfully accused, there is always a stigma surrounding their involvement with the justice system.
Impact on Mental Health.
Many studies show that incarceration has a significant psychological impact. Even a brief sentence can cause major personality changes and may cause recidivism due to issues adjusting on “the outside.” Some common changes after incarceration include:
- Emotional Distancing: Hiding your emotions to protect yourself from others who consider emotion a sign of weakness can lead to the inability to create and maintain personal bonds after leaving prison.
- Hypervigilance: Since prison is a dangerous place, hypervigilance becomes second nature. It often leads people to adopt self-isolating behaviors after they serve their time.
- PTSD: From flashbacks and emotional numbness to nightmares and unexpected bursts of anger, there are many symptoms of PTSD that can make it difficult to live a regular life. You might experience such intense anxiety, guilt, and shame from traumatic experiences that it’s tough to lead a productive life.
Crime Doesn’t Pay
You’ve probably heard the saying that crime doesn’t pay, but it doesn’t encompass just how negative of an impact it can have on your life. If you find yourself facing a struggle with the criminal justice system, make sure you speak with someone experienced in criminal law who can help protect you throughout the process.
Jordan McDowell is a copy strategist with a passion for law. He is mainly interested in criminal law but also writes about civil rights law, family law, and environmental law.