The consequences of a conviction — even for a crime you might think of as minor — are real and sometimes surprising. For example, you can be charged with a minor criminal offense for keeping your library books too long in Arkansas, but if you have enough valuable library books overdue at the same time, you might get charged with a felony.
Beyond the fine and/or jail time imposed upon conviction of a crime, there is collateral damage caused by having a criminal record, such as impairment or loss of some of your fundamental rights and privileges as an American citizen. Civil disabilities can result from convictions in these situations:
Misdemeanors — For convictions of crimes punishable by one year or less in jail, the collateral consequences may not be life altering but they are significant nonetheless. When you are applying for a job, your conviction will likely show up on a background check. In applying for a professional license, college or graduate school, you will probably be required to disclose the offense, which will compel an explanation of its nature and circumstances and may affect your qualification. You also may be ineligible for certain federal or military careers if you have a conviction on your record.
Domestic violence — There are few crimes as stigmatized as domestic violence and no quicker way to permanently alter your life than to lose control for just a moment in the midst of an argument with your significant other. If you are convicted of domestic violence, you’ll never be allowed to possess a firearm again. If you are involved in divorce or related proceedings, a conviction on your record will make it extremely difficult to convince a family law judge that you should be granted custody or visitation.
Felonies — Offenses that carry more than one year in jail or prison are called felonies and they have consequences far beyond incarceration. Felons lose their right to vote (until their sentences are served), to serve on a jury and to hold or use firearms. They also cannot practice law and will likely be unable to practice any other profession or to qualify for a position of trust. A felony conviction also makes you ineligible to join the military or to obtain public housing or federal benefits.
The consequences of any conviction are real and can follow you indefinitely, which means that an effective criminal defense is crucial. James Law Firm is ready to fight for you, either in a defense on the original charge or in proceedings to clear your record after a conviction and restore your civil rights. To learn about your legal options, please call (501) 375-0900 or contact us online.