What are the Consequences of Having a Criminal Record?Comments Off on What are the Consequences of Having a Criminal Record?
When you are facing criminal charges, it is easy to focus on the penalty of jail time. However, a prison sentence is only one way that a criminal conviction can impact your life—and the consequences of a criminal record do not go away once your sentence ends. There are many ways that a criminal record can affect your livelihood, from finding a job to securing housing and possessing a firearm.
What Is a Criminal Record?
A criminal record documents any previous convictions or charges you may have faced in the past. This term may also refer to the criminal database maintained by the local and county court systems in Washington State. These records are usually available to the public, meaning that many people may be able to access them.
Consequences of a Criminal Record
Having a criminal history can seriously impact your quality of life, leading to the following consequences.
- Harsher penalties for subsequent crimes: If you face charges for a crime you received a conviction for in the past, the court may assign steeper penalties, such as increased jail time and fines.
- Employment difficulties: Many employers conduct background checks or ask applicants if they have a criminal record on applications. You may find it difficult to obtain gainful employment, especially if you work with children or vulnerable populations.
- Inability to find housing: If you have a sex offense on your record, you may not be allowed to live in certain areas. It can be difficult to find housing and you may need to move several times.
- Child custody: If you are divorced and have children with your former spouse, a criminal record will impact your ability to have custody over them. This is especially true if you have a domestic violence conviction on your record.
- Driving and firearm privileges: Depending on the conviction, you may lose your right to own a firearm or have a driver’s license.
When Can a Criminal Record Be Expunged?
Under Washington law, you may be eligible to have your record expunged if you did not receive a conviction for a crime. If you have a citation, warrant, or arrest on your record, you may ask the court to expunge your record three years after the action occurred. If you wish to expunge a criminal charge that you were not convicted for, you must wait two years from the date of the case’s resolution to file. There are several exceptions that can prevent expungement, such as another arrest during the waiting period or prior convictions.
You may ask the court to vacate a felony or misdemeanor conviction after you completed the terms of your sentence. However, there are very limited circumstances in which a court will take this action. Washington does not allow you to vacate a conviction if the crime is violent, you have other convictions or charges on your record, or you have vacated another conviction.
Hire an Attorney for Your Criminal Case
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to take immediate measures to protect yourself and your rights. A criminal defense attorney can convince the court to reduce or even drop the charges against you by representing your side of the story. If you have a criminal record, your lawyer can also guide you through the expungement process.
Your attorney can gather evidence to craft a compelling defense in your favor, enter negotiations with prosecutors, and inform you of the steps you need to take to achieve the best possible outcome. As soon as possible following your arrest, contact a Washington defense attorney to discuss your case.