Across the country, there are 70 to 100 million adults who have some sort of criminal record. This includes people who were arrested without being convicted, as well as those who were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. Each of these individuals can face collateral consequences that have a negative impact on their life.
For many, the collateral consequences continue long after they complete their court-ordered sentence. This leaves some people wondering why individuals who have served their punishments continue to have to deal with these effects for the remainder of their life, even after they’ve learned from their mistakes.
Around 87% of employers do a background check before hiring employees, and around 60% of formerly incarcerated individuals will remain unemployed at a year after their release. While there are limits to how this information can be used, it is certainly a barrier that can prevent a person who made an honest mistake and who has learned from their error to get back on the right track. They might find that it is difficult to find a job that can financially support them. Some employers might refuse to hire a person who has served time in jail or prison, and many states prevent these individuals from public employment.
Landlords will sometimes do background checks on potential renters. This can make it difficult for a person who has a criminal record to find suitable housing. It is likely also impossible for a person with a criminal history, especially if it involves drugs or a violent offense, to live in public housing because of the requirement for these places. Even when there isn’t a background check done, there is still a chance that you’ll be asked on an application about your criminal history. Since honesty is required, this might impact your chances of obtaining housing.
Many other collateral consequences exit. In fact, there are thousands on the record across the country. These vary greatly depending on the location but can include things like being ineligible to vote in elections, being barred from owning a firearm, and being unable to keep or renew professional licenses. Even obtaining a passport and being able to travel can be limited by a criminal record.
If you’re facing criminal charges for anything, including domestic abuse or a drug charge, make sure you consider how the collateral consequences might impact your future as you’re planning your defense.