Facing criminal charges is a serious matter. If convicted, you may have to serve time in prison as well as have to pay steep fines. But even after you’ve paid your debt to society, your criminal record still has the potential to haunt you for the rest of your life.
Here are some of the long-lasting collateral consequences you could face:
- Employment: With a criminal record, employers may be more likely to view you as dishonest. Compared to other applicants with a clean record, they may be less likely to give you a chance.
- Housing: A criminal record can affect your ability to secure housing. Landlords may discriminate against those with a criminal record, and banks may be less inclined to give ex-convicts a mortgage.
- Voting: In Florida, voting rights have been restored to people with certain, less serious convictions on their record. However, gaining back your right to vote also requires paying legal fines, which many people struggle to afford.
- Education: If you want to pursue higher education, it may be more difficult after coming out of the prison system. Colleges may discriminate against applicants with a criminal record.
What are my options?
If you’re facing criminal charges, first and foremost, your aim should be to avoid conviction. Seeking the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney is your best bet at getting your charges dropped or negotiating a deal that avoids jail time.
If you have been convicted of a crime, it’s worth understanding Florida’s expungement laws – which can enable you to get your conviction permanently removed from your record after you serve your time. Expungement doesn’t happen automatically, though, so it’s worth talking with a lawyer to help you initiate the process.