A run-in with the law can have a huge negative impact on your life. Most people think that all of the consequences you face are tied to whether or not you are convicted, but unfortunately this is not the case.
Sure, you won’t be going to prison or paying off ridiculous fines if you beat your charges, but that doesn’t mean that everything just returns to normal. Why not? Because you will have a criminal record.
That’s right. All it takes to acquire a criminal record is for you to be arrested – you don’t even need to be formally charged.
Don’t think that’s a big deal? Think again. It’s no secret that “criminals” are looked down upon in our country, but the issues you face with a criminal record go well beyond someone giving you dirty looks.
Below are six reasons that everyone who is eligible should get their record sealed or expunged.
Ways a Criminal Record Makes Your Life Harder
Hurts Your Ability to Get a Job: 87% of employers perform background checks while reviewing applications. Applicants with a criminal history are the first to be tossed in the trash. An expungement erases the record of your criminal past so that employers can’t see it, making it more likely that you will get to the interview process. The same goes for volunteer positions.
Ability to Adopt: Background checks are also conducted by adoption agencies. You may be automatically denied for having a criminal past. Adults who want to open their arms to a child through adoption cannot do so if they have a felony record. Don’t think that you can change your name to avoid what comes up for your background check, either. If you do, Minnesota will charge you with a misdemeanor, which may add to your record.
Ability to Get Housing: After time in prison, all you may want is to start a new life in a new location… but a felony record can prevent you from doing so. Housing applications often ask about your criminal record, and may deny you if you have one.
Restoration of Firearm Rights: Felons lose the right to bear arms after a conviction. While some felonies restrict offenders from restoring the right to own a gun under any circumstances, these crimes are usually crimes of violence and are a special exception to general rules. In most cases, a sealed or expunged record restores the offender’s ability to purchase, own, or lawfully use a firearm.
Ability to Pursue Higher Education: Your criminal record can become an obstacle in two places on the road to higher education. First, consider the application itself. Some universities conduct criminal background checks as they review applications. (University of Minnesota just recently decided to “ban the box.”) When you are applying for a competitive school, a criminal record can quickly destroy your chances at acceptance. Second, your record may get in the way of receiving loans. Paying for higher education is, for some, the hardest part. Loans are a large help, but without the ability to get federal or private loans, a quality education may be next to impossible.
General Peace of Mind: Felony records are public knowledge. No matter what you are applying for, or why someone may be searching your name online, a criminal record hangs over your head. Wouldn’t it be easier to tell people about your criminal past when you are ready?
To learn more about expungement, whether or not you qualify, and what it takes to get your record sealed, talk to a Minnesota criminal defense attorney.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).