The first concern people have if facing criminal charges is usually whether or not they will go to jail. However, criminal charges can have many more far-reaching effects than the risk of jail time.
It is commonly known, as the Office of Justice Programs noted in 2016, that a criminal conviction could impact someone’s ability to vote in local and national elections, and even own a firearm. What about a criminal charge? How can a charge on your record affect your life and future?
There are four overarching aspects of your life that a criminal charge could impact:
Your personal life
Unfortunately, there remains a stigma surrounding even arrests and criminal charges – regardless of a conviction. A charge on your record could impact relationships with certain members of your family and friends.
It could potentially impact your ability to see your children as well. For example, if you face a divorce and must determine a child custody arrangement, North Carolina courts may consider your criminal record and how it might affect the child’s best interests.
Your professional life
Employers can consider your criminal background during the hiring process. While potential employers cannot ask about an expunged record, they frequently conduct background checks that will include criminal history.
However, they walk a fine line when evaluating potential employees, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They cannot engage in discrimination, and they must consider the relevance of the particular charge regarding the job duties when making a decision.
If a criminal charge impacts job opportunities, it can also directly impact your finances. This can have a wide range of consequences, the least of which is the ability to pay bills. A criminal charge on your record can also hinder your ability to obtain a loan if necessary.
The Office of Justice Programs also notes that a criminal charge can significantly affect your quality of life. As a criminal record can impact nearly every aspect of your life, it can also impact your mental health and well-being. Many people who faced criminal charges may feel shame and guilt. These feelings only escalate if they struggle to maintain personal relationships and obtain a job.
As a result, it is not uncommon for individuals to develop conditions such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
It is important to note that your mental health can directly affect your physical health too.
These effects can change the trajectory of your life – and everything you had planned for the future. That is why it is important to take action as soon as possible when facing criminal charges to defend your rights.