You’d think that once you’ve served your jail time that you’d be given a clean slate with which to start your life over. However, the truth is that a criminal record permeates most every aspect of your life, from what job you can apply for to whether you’ll be approved for a loan to what rates you’ll pay for your vehicle insurance. It’s important to keep these consequences in mind when you’re contemplating a plea arrangement.
Consequences of a criminal record
Having to pay expensive fines and possibly spending months or even years away from your family, friends and life is not the only consequence of having a criminal record. Pleading guilty to a criminal charge, such a theft, assault or drug offences can have many lasting effects.
1. Challenges getting an apartment or a loan. Questions about criminal history appear on a variety of applications, when you’re looking for an apartment to rent, when you’re looking for employment and even when you’re applying for a new credit card or a home loan. A criminal record can cause your application to be declined before the reviewer even has an opportunity to look at your many good qualities.
2. Work challenges. Not only may prospective employers discard your application because you have a criminal record, there are a number of jobs that you are not allowed to hold in Australia if you’ve been convicted of a serious crime. These include working in a bank or other financial institution, driving a truck, working in a government job and working as a doctor or a teacher.
3. Possible increase in insurance and other credit-based rates. It’s not just employers, landlords and bank who take into account a person’s criminal record when making business decisions. Insurance companies often consider such things when determining whether they will insure an applicant and, if they do, what rate he or she will pay. This also can apply to credit card interest rates and loan interest rates, even if you are able to secure such a loan.
4. Problems with family and friends. Many cities and municipalities publish criminal records in the local newspapers. It’s all but impossible to keep a criminal conviction a secret and word can spread quickly among your friends, acquaintances and co-workers. Although many people will rally to support you, there is also a contingent of people who will forever after look at you differently and be wary around you after a criminal conviction.
5. Problems with future dealing with the law. A person with a criminal record is much less likely to receive the benefit of the doubt if he or she is confronted by police in the future. For instance, someone who was pulled over for speeding might have their car extensively searched if they had a prior drug conviction. They might even be taken to a police station for questioning.
While having a criminal record doesn’t make it impossible to go on and live a happy, productive life, it does create a number of obstacles that will need to be overcome. The best strategy would be to do all you can to avoid pleading guilty to a serious criminal charge.
Any criminal charge is too serious a matter to handle oneself. If you find yourself charged with a crime, you need a criminal lawyer to represent your interests.