People facing criminal charges often tend to fixate on the criminal consequences. These often include jail time, as well as steep fines and community service. Some charges can impact your personal or professional licenses, while others may require counseling or drug abuse education. While these consequences are serious, they are also not the only concerns that you need to consider.
There are non-criminal consequences involved any time you get convicted of or plead guilty to criminal charges. A criminal record of any sort can have a negative impact on your job and your overall career goals and prospects. You could face reduced job prospects, income and even an inability to find future positions in your field in the wake of a criminal conviction.
A conviction can actually cost you your job
Some employees may consider plea bargains to avoid missing work for court appearances. However, that conviction could end up costing you, even if you don’t have to explain where you are on court days. A guilty plea could mean a conviction on a lesser charge, but it is possible that your employer will assume you were guilty of the original, more serious offense if you plead guilty.
Depending on your position and the industry in which you work, a conviction on a serious criminal charge, including some misdemeanors, could be grounds for termination. Many employers include clauses in work contracts that give them the right and authority to terminate the positions of anyone who get convicted of crimes while working for the company.
Even if you do everything in your power to avoid telling your employer, it’s still possible for them to find out. They could run a background check as part of your annual review. They might order a background report if you’re up for a major promotion. Someone from management or human resources could find out about your conviction from another employee at the company, online or in the newspaper.
A criminal record can make getting a new job difficult
Those who already have a job while facing charges are actually lucky. These people may have the option of maintaining their current positions without any career consequences from their employers. For those who are between jobs or who work gigs and contracts, the potential exists for serious hardship related to securing work in the future. Many companies will not hire anyone with criminal records.
Some people may try to avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction by moving to another state. However, the rise of digital background checks means that a conviction can follow you just about anywhere. Any prospective employer could find out about your criminal record and refuse to employ you as a result, especially if your career places you in a position of public trust.