If you are facing criminal charges, you likely have many questions. What might a conviction do to your life? How will it affect your future? You may be particularly concerned about your job. You want to keep earning an income, supporting your household and contributing to society.
Do not despair — not all charges end in convictions. You may be able to get charges dismissed or reduced. Gather all the knowledge you can; the better you understand your situation, the more empowered you may feel going forward.
Will I lose my job?
Facing criminal charges does not necessarily mean you will lose your job. Situations differ according to the nature of your work and what charges you are facing. Unless your arrest, jail time or criminal charges keep you from reporting for your shifts, criminal charges should not automatically halt your employment.
In some cases, however, a conviction can result in the loss of your job. This can happen if there is a connection between the conviction and your job duties. For instance, some licensing agencies may suspend or revoke your license, which can ultimately force you to change careers.
Will I be able to get a new job?
Potential employers may ask if you have pending charges or inquire about past convictions. They may employ a third party to conduct a background check called a consumer report. Certain fields may be off-limits, such as medicine, education and law enforcement. You will likely be unable to attain security clearance or a professional license.
What are my options?
A conviction can result in incarceration, but other options exist. Courts may place you on probation, require you to pay restitution and mandate community service. Once you complete your sentence, you may have certain rights restored. After a specified period of time goes by with no arrests, you may be able to get your record sealed or expunged, making future employment easier.
Obviously, it is best if the conviction never happens. Know your rights, know the law and get the help you need.