If you are facing criminal charges in Greenville, South Carolina, your rights are at risk. It is not only your freedom and your finances that are going to be involved, but your actual rights as an American citizen for a long time to come. Of course, some criminal convictions will have minor consequences compared to others, but you may not even realize how serious things are if you are convicted for certain crimes. It is natural to be wrapped up in what is going to happen in your immediate future when facing criminal charges. You’re worried about having to serve a sentence, about having to pay fines and/or restitution, and about how you’re going to keep your job or stay in school if you go to jail.
You may not have thought about your right to vote or your right to receive federal loans or government assistance. You may not be thinking about losing your right to own a gun. Yet, all of these things can be affected for many years in the future, or even the rest of your life. You may not be thinking about these rights when you get arrested, but you’ll notice them when they’re gone.
Addressing Your Immediate Concerns About the Consequences of a Conviction
Before we get into the rights that may be impacted by a criminal conviction long term, let’s look at the immediate concerns of the consequences of conviction. When your case goes to trial, and you are found guilty, the judge is then tasked with handing out a punishment that is, theoretically, proportional to the crime. It may involve a jail sentence, a prison sentence, an order of community service, an order to go into drug or alcohol abuse counseling, an order to pay fines and/or restitution to victims, or probation. All of these consequences can impact your ability to live your life as you have been and as you wish to. You want to avoid conviction if possible or at least try to get the best possible outcome with the least severe consequences. A Greenville, South Carolina, criminal defense attorney can help.
A Conviction Could Prevent You From Getting the Job of Your Dreams
There are multiple ways that a criminal conviction could result in you losing the ability to ever get the job of your dreams. One way is that you may be denied employment. With felony convictions, there are hundreds of jobs that you cannot legally be employed at. Even at the jobs where you could work, you may not be hired once they do a background check or ask you about your criminal history. Even if you have the experience and the education necessary to work in a given position, you may still be denied the employment opportunity. Many people with criminal convictions struggle to find any work at all.
Then, there is the fact that you may not be eligible for federal funding to get the education that you would need to get the job of your dreams. Maybe you always thought you’d be a lawyer, a doctor, a nurse, or a teacher. Maybe you’ve even made some educational progress towards those goals. Assuming that your conviction doesn’t automatically bar you from being able to work in that occupation, you may still find it impossible to get the education that would be required without being eligible for federal student loans. Even if you don’t currently have a dream, any future goals you may have could become unreachable if you are convicted of the crime you’re accused of.
A Conviction Could Make You Ineligible for All Forms of Public Assistance
Many people end up in a position where they are facing hardships and require the assistance of public programs. These programs include financial assistance, food assistance, and housing assistance. Those who have recently been convicted of a crime are even more likely to need this assistance. You may have lost your job, had to pay a substantial amount of fines, or lost your home. You may have dependents that rely on you to provide shelter and food. Yet, you may find that you are in one of the worst possible predicaments when you need these benefits but cannot receive them. This is particularly challenging for those whose careers and educations have already been derailed by a criminal conviction, leaving them in greater need of assistance, yet are unable to get that assistance because of the same conviction.
A Conviction Can Keep You From Owning a Gun or Being Able to Vote
Other rights that Americans frequently take for granted include the right to own a gun and the right to vote. Both of these can be taken from you if you are convicted of a crime. Tens of thousands of South Carolina citizens are not allowed to vote because of a past criminal conviction. When you think of just one vote, your vote, not being allowed, you may not think it means much. Yet, when you realize that you are one person in a group of tens of thousands of people who can’t vote, you may realize what an impact this can make on the issues that are important to you. Meanwhile, whether or not you have ever owned a gun or care to own a gun, you should be aware that you could get into trouble if you even have ammunition in your possession as a convicted criminal in Greenville, South Carolina.
Some Convicted Criminals Lose More Rights than Others
Not all criminal convictions will cause you to lose any or all of these rights and privileges. However, if your crime is violent or involves drugs, you are likely to face such consequences. There are also cases where you can regain your rights, through an expungement of your record or by completing the programs and requirements of your conviction. For instance, you may be able to get back some rights once you have completed probation. In other cases, you may be able to reduce the charges or have the charges dropped and completely avoid having a criminal record. This is why it is so important to work with a dedicated Greenville, South Carolina, criminal defense lawyer when you are facing charges. Call Lauren Taylor Law to learn more about how an attorney can protect your rights.