Leaving the past behind sounds like a good strategy for life but it doesn’t always work. Your past might hold not your prettiest side and a background check might reveal it through a criminal record. People with criminal record do not enjoy the same rights that citizens without it do. So, if you have an uncomplimentary past it might be getting in the way all your life. Let’s understand what exactly criminal record has on it and how it can affect you.
Criminal Record in Detail
A criminal record includes the information about your arrests and convictions. State, federal and local authorities collect and use it when needed. That information serves to identify or to detect possible suspects for unsolved crimes. Courts also use criminal records as a part of their decision making. Those can determine a sentence based on the crimes committed in the past.
However, most people would associate a criminal record with background checks, which is meant to uncover whether an individual applying for a job has ever committed a crime.
The criminal record starts when a person is arrested for a crime, which fingerprints and photographs attached. Along with the details about the current arrest, the record will also include appropriate personal information. If a conviction follows, the documents will show that as well.
Unlike the old days when records were handwritten/typed and stored at the police stations, today they are obviously kept in electronic databases. While in the past criminals could escape their fate by moving to another city or country, now the information is only a click away.
What Exactly Can a Background Check Reveal?
Now when you’ve applied for a job or housing and are nervous about your background check, you better know what exact information it will reveal. Actually, background checks can access other data besides your criminal record. Employers might find it necessary to know about your marriages and divorces, drug and alcohol use, medical conditions, driving records and many other things. However, that’s for a different post, instead let’s dive into the details of the record, which will include:
- Criminal charges and arrests
- Convictions and charges for felony and misdemeanor
- Probation or other relevant sentencing information
- Civil infractions and traffic tickets
Other Ways Criminal Record Can Affect You
It’s not only when trying to find job or housing when you might stumble upon problems. A criminal record can impact other aspects of your life. You might get in trouble with banks that will refuse to give you a loan. You might be also denied traveling or applying for a professional license. Your constitutional rights can suffer as well. Acquiring firearms and voting might become a problem for you. Note that all of these depend on the specifics of your convictions.
What to Do as Someone with a Criminal Record?
You might want to expunge or seal your record if it causes you too much trouble in too many circumstances. Expungement seems like a perfect deal to get rid of a record as if it never existed. It will no longer be possible for others to access your records unless they go through court proceedings and it is unsealed. Expungement and sealing will erase your conviction history but that doesn’t mean that your records will disappear completely. It would still be possible to access the information through detailed background checks.The law becomes inactive in a sense, but law enforcement and government officials still posses the information.
Does that always work?
The rules regarding expungement vary across states. However, bear in mind that expungement isn’t always a possible option, sometimes not at all. It is most likely to apply to minor first offense. You should go to court and follow the necessary procedure. While carrying out a decision there are a number of factors a judge would pay attention to. Those will include the type of crime you committed, whether you were only arrested or a conviction followed. The judge will also look at the rest of your record, how much time passed since the arrest/conviction and if you successfully completed your sentence, etc.
If you have a felony conviction and are determined to improve think of some suitable job training or reentry programs. The latter provides short-term housing, help with jobs and also therapy making your integration back to society easier. Check with your state to find out what programs are at option for people with a felony conviction. Here are some jobs for felons in California.
Having a criminal record has never benefited anybody. However, that doesn’t mean that you should get discouraged and give up on your future. Don’t hold on to your past, instead, work hard to secure your future.