A criminal conviction could follow you for the rest of your life … thanks in part to the Internet. Those facing felony charges in Palm Beach or elsewhere in South Florida have more reasons than ever to keep a conviction off their records. A conviction — even a misdemeanor conviction — can make it difficult to land a job and may even prevent you from renting an apartment in certain areas.
A Broward criminal defense attorney can frequently seek a reduction or dismissal of the charges. In all cases, he can accurately advise you of your rights and the potential consequences of a plea. Some charges may require you to register as a sex offender, for example, while others, like domestic violence, could prevent you from owning a firearm or joining the military or a law enforcement agency.
The New York Times recently reported the story of a 38-year-old woman who was convicted of robbing a video store in 1997 but who has had no further brushes with the law in the past 14 years. Still, even after training in medical administration and a degree in psychology, employers grow leery when they learn of her history through criminal background checks.
Her criminal record has cost her more than a dozen job opportunities since graduating from college last year.
Thanks in part to stiffer sentencing guidelines and less leniency for non-violent offenses like drug possession, the pool of applicants includes more people with criminal histories. And each year more than 700.000 are released from state and federal prison. About 65 million Americans — or about 1 in 5 — have some type of criminal record, according to the National Employment Law Project.
While checking an employee’s background once required a trip to the courthouse, the Internet has made checking an employee’s background both easier and less expensive. In a survey conducted last year, almost 90 percent of companies said they conducted a criminal background check on some or all applicants.
Advocates say such discrimination can include those charged with relatively minor offenses, such as DUI. And being a convicted criminal is not a protected class — employers are not required to obey the same rules as they are for hiring women, minorities and those with disabilities.
In some cases, you may be able to have your criminal record sealed or expunged; speaking to an experienced attorney is the best bet for protecting your rights in the workplace and doing what you can to ensure that an old criminal conviction does not impact your current and future job prospects.
If you are facing criminal charges in Broward or Palm Beach counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.