Having a criminal record on file can severely impact your life: from access to higher education to official employment. On the other hand, even people who got a job but have a criminal history may suffer from decreased wages for the rest of their careers.
Remember: more than 70 million Americans face the same kinds of issues. We want to assure you: that there’s always an exit even from the toughest situation; the past mistakes don’t have to worsen your entire life. You always can improve your financial possibilities with credit card no deposit or you can try solving your problems and get a chance to have a full life with a job and a normal relationship.
Below you will find a few steps to getting a normal life with a criminal record.
The Financial Barriers to Having a Criminal Record
People convicted of different crimes face a variety of sanctions or restrictions known as collateral consequences. A whole other story is background checks: leasing agents, employers, and landlords, often use the opportunity to scan a person when considering an application.
What makes it even worse — commercial background check websites are available to the public on the internet. People don’t need official approval to browse those resources out of curiosity.
Finding a Decent Job
Many ex-offenders find it pretty hard even to apply for a position. Having a criminal conviction decreases employment opportunities at the very initial stage of the hiring process. In 2021, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that around 83% of hiring professionals use a pre-hire screening to follow up on criminal activity among applicants.
The other problem — workers who spent some time in prison, may see their annual earnings reduced by 52 percent. People convicted of a felony, but not imprisoned, face an annual earnings reduction of about 22 percent on average.
Higher Education Obstacles
Many institutions declined applicants with a former criminal history. They include a question about the criminal record in the application forms; again, you may lie, but your secret won’t last. Students lying about their legal problems provoke even more judgment from their fellow mates.
In recent years, there’s increasing support for the “ban the box” initiative. It demands from the higher education establishments to remove a check box on college applications that ask whether applicants have a criminal record.
Another hope for ex-criminals is the Clean State Initiative. People staying crime-free for 10 years, may fully expunge a criminal record from their personal histories. It gives benefits to applying for college or requesting financial aid, for example.
Life Hacks to Clear Your Criminal Background
To start working on an expunging plan, you need to know what kind of consequences your criminal history has.
Here’s the list of three basic levels of criminal offenses:
- Infraction — not an official crime, more related to traffic violations. Normally, infractions don’t end in a jail sentence or probation;
- Misdemeanor — a minor crime, which includes fines or jail time that can range from 90 days to one year. Common examples are assault, property theft, or driving under the influence (DUI). In most cases, a misdemeanor can be expunged; laws and procedures vary by state;
- Felony — is a serious crime with lots of consequences. This section includes the murder of different degrees, sexual misconduct, or other serious weapons charges. Federal pardons may be possible here, but it’s a long path to proving the nature of a crime and finding who’s the responsible party.
Depending on the level of your criminal offense, you can take different steps to repair your history. Let’s take a closer look at the most vivid examples.
Step 1: Determine Your Credibility
The age of the offender is the first thing the court takes into account. For example, juveniles face far more relaxed qualification standards than adults. For adults, clemency requirements are more rigid: some states will not offer an expungement, but a sealing, in this case. Sealing doesn’t erase the record but hides it from public view.
Step 2: Replicate the Type of Clemency
The common types of clemency are pardon and expungement. One of the biggest distinctions is the way they affect the rest of your life.
Pardon can be given by the president, the state governor, or the state board of pardons and paroles. It doesn’t erase your criminal record, and the conviction will still appear during a background check. However, a pardon is proof that you’ve been forgiven officially. Depending on the state you live in, some offenses are only eligible for a pardon instead of expungement. For example, not all states allow for the expungement of DUIs.
Expungement will entirely erase the crime from your history; it can only be given by criminal court judges under specific circumstances. A person seeking to have an arrest or criminal conviction expunged from their record usually has to fill out a petition or application and then submit all required paperwork to the criminal court.
Step 3: Find an Attorney
Even if the state you live in allows making a personal appeal, it’s better to find a person who’s qualified to deal with laws. Criminal records are legal mazes: there may be different pitfalls, unseen by an average person.
Step 4: Make a Payment
To cover the costs while obtaining an expungement, you can either apply for a loan or pay indirectly, through employment. Private lenders tend to be wary about lending to ex-offenders, but they may still lend to you if you can prove your ability to repay.
Consider this step wisely: how much money will you need to apply; how much time will you spend clearing your record; finally, are you able to cope with all the legal terms, or do you need professional help?
Let’s Sum Up!
Overcoming your previous mistakes is a curved path, requiring time and patience. You need to work hard to clear a criminal record. Requesting a pardon or expungement may be hard in financial terms, but you’ll never regret it once you do it! So, find yourself the right motivation, and let’s get to work!