What’s the big deal if I have a criminal offense on my record? It’s just one charge or it’s just a misdemeanor, right?
Many of the people who walk into my office, come to me years after pleading to a criminal offense. Now, they are facing a consequence they were never advised of or thought was remotely possible. Examples:
Getting into (or remaining in) a college;
Getting (or keeping) a job;
Getting (or keeping) security clearance;
Getting (or keeping) a driver’s license;
Getting (or keeping) a commercial driver’s license;
Getting a mortgage;
Getting (or remaining in) an apartment;
Getting a bank loan;
Loss of Civil Rights
The right to carry/own a firearm, the right to serve on a jury, the right to vote and so on.
In order to try to avoid these adverse consequences, it is highly advisable to hire an experienced attorney to review and handle your case from start to finish. If you are entering a plea, ask the attorney about the possible consequences. And even if your case is dropped, dismissed or nolle processed, ask your lawyer if you can seal or expunge the record. Just because you beat the charge does not mean the record is erased. If you were arrested, there is a record of that. If your case was entered into the Clerk of Courts system, there is a record of that too. If possible, you want those records erased as soon as humanly possible. The longer they exist, the higher the risk that they will found by someone in the future.
Certain offenses carry with them other consequences. Examples:
DWLS: 3 or more offenses within a 5 year period will result in your classification as a Habitual Traffic Offender by the DHSMV. If you are so classified, your driver’s license will be suspended for 5 years.
Petit Theft: Most people do not realize that convictions for this offense may result in the suspension of their driving privileges.
Cannabis (Marijuana) Possession: Mandatory 2 year driver’s license revocation.
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