As you stand in court, facing accusations of criminal activity, you should know that the ramifications of this case can stretch on far past the immediate impact. This is something that may change your life. It may define who you are and who you can become forever.
Yes, the ramifications may begin with time spent behind bars. You may have to pay a fine. You may lose some rights, like the right to buy firearms. You may have to do probation or put your name on a list.
But getting through the initial penalties does not mean life always snaps back to normal. You don’t spend 10 years in jail and then get out to pick up where you left off.
For instance, let’s take a quick look at what a conviction can mean as you try to move forward with your career. After you do your time and get out, can you still get a job? Can you even get an interview? Or will you find that employers are happy to ignore your skills and qualifications because of your criminal record?
A study looked into it and determined that a Caucasian individual who goes in for an interview and has to admit to a criminal record has about a 50 percent lower chance of getting asked to come in for a second interview, when compared to the call-back rates for similar individuals without records.
It gets even worse if you are not Caucasian, unfortunately. The study noted that African American individuals are always less likely to get that second interview, with or without a criminal record. If they have one, though, they only get brought back for another interview 33 percent as often as similar candidates.
In short, that conviction on your record causes your chances of getting a second interview — not a job, mind you, just a second interview — to plummet. The odds of actually landing a job also fall.
Plus, this does not even take into account how many people do not get first interviews because they have a record. It just looks at call-backs. You may find it nearly impossible to get a foot in the door to start, and getting that foot in just starts the long process of trying to get a follow-up interview and then a job.
The big picture
Try to think about the full scope of the situation if you get accused of a crime. Consider what a conviction really means in your life. Then make sure you are well aware of all of the legal defense options at your disposal.