Criminal Record Impacts in the News

There have been a lot of stories in the news this week about the impact of a criminal conviction on a person’s livelihood, ability to find a job, an apartment, and generally function in society. And most of it is not encouraging.  The fact remains that the best way to try to prevent the negative impact a criminal record can have on your life is before you are convicted.

Of course not all cases can be won, but many people don’t even try. Accepting a plea without seriously evaluating the chance you can beat the charges can be a huge mistake. While working out a plea deal may be the right decision in many cases, skipping that process just because you don’t think you can afford a lawyer may be a shortsighted decision you will regret later.

Here are a few examples:

A Virginia newspaper reports on the huge disadvantages people face with criminal records when competing in an extremely tight job market.

In Iowa, you may be evicted from an apartment if you commit crime. It’s probably a fact of life that a criminal record may prevent you, fairly or unfairly, from not getting a lease on an apartment when it shows up on a background check. But the Cedar Rapids City council is proposing possibly mandatory evictions in the event of a criminal record? So anyone with any charge simply has to leave town?

In Miami, Florida, there has been a long running series in the Miami Herald about the impossible circumstances that registered sex offenders face.  I know that sympathy for registered sex offenders doesn’t run high, at that is understandable.  But not everyone who is a registered sex offender is a constant threat to the community, as the stories show.

And with the Cedar Rapids case, people have to live somewhere, and be allowed to function in society.

For a small piece of good news on the criminal records, Massachusetts just passed criminal records reform, reducing the duration that criminal convictions are searchable on background checks by employers. Now, most misdemeanor won’t follow you for more than 5 years (10 years for felonies)

About David Matson