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Life with a Criminal Record: How to Move Forward After a Criminal Charge

Updated on April 22, 2020
Loretta Awosika profile image

Loretta is a lawyer, specialising in various branches of law and loves to write on pressing legal issues around the world.

Life is full of ups and downs and most of us have made bad decisions. Some of these decisions are just bad while some are both bad and illegal having serious legal consequences that result in such things as a criminal record.

A criminal charge or conviction could seriously disrupt all aspects of a person’s life forever. From finding work, to social circle and even family dynamic. This could in turn lead to a feeling of depression, regret, rebellious behavior and even self-destructive behavior in a bid to lash out for the perceived unfair treatment. Whether you did or did not do what you are charged for, or if you are guilty or not guilty of what you are convicted of, it really doesn’t matter. You can’t take it back anymore. However, you have the right and the power to rebuild your life again and move forward from the shackles of your past.

The United States is ranked as the country with the highest number of imprisoned people and a 2017 FBI report, says over 73 million people in the United States have a criminal record.

According to Samantha Greene, a senior partner in Sevens Legal APC Law Firm, a firm specializing in criminal defence cases and defense of DUI and repeat offenders in the Southern California area, there exists legal remedies to help ensure that the legal rights of accused persons is not violated but protected. “It is advised you get an experienced criminal lawyer in the first place to save you from having a criminal record at all’, failure to do this and a subsequent conviction creates a serious hurdle for the rest of the person’s life.

This is due to the fact that reintegration difficulties greatly contribute to offenders becoming repeat offenders. When someone is unable to get a paying job in order to survive, they revert to a life of crime or take illegal shortcuts to make ends meet, thereby landing in legal hot water, again.

According to a report, more than 60 percent of convicted offenders, become repeat offenders. People with a criminal record need to be given a chance to live just like people without a record.

Here are some tips from Samantha of Sevens Legal APC, a law firm, experienced in handling criminal cases and repeat offenders cases on how to moving forward and keep moving forward even with a criminal record.

Accept, Make up your mind and mentally prepare yourself

When you make the decision to turn your life around and move on a straight path, accept your truth and situation and do not kid yourself that it would be easy or a walk in the park, because honestly, it won’t.

You should prepare mentally for the hurdles you would face due to the bias created by a criminal record and prepare not to make the same mistakes that landed you in legal trouble, again.

The truth is that, life will not be the same again and you would have to do without some privileges such as, voting, owning a firearm, possible relocation and you might even lose the rights to your own children. It’s going to be tough but you have to accept and prepare yourself, so it would be easier to move forward.

Evaluate and Rebuild your relationships.

Most times, charges and or convictions have an adverse effect on family and friends’ relationships. Trying to ignore the elephant n the room and acting like nothing happened would only build tension and resentments with your close family and friends.

You should evaluate your relationships, dispose of, relationships that could lead you down a negative path and cause reoccurrence of legal issues, and prioritize relationships that would be positively impactful to you on your new path.

Rebuild your relationship with your family by having in depth discussions about the choices, actions and consequences of your mistakes. This would give you and your family an understanding of the issues, clear up ambiguities and put everyone on the road to recovery and moving forward. Once everything is out and thrashed, only then can you be able to rebuild your relationships because they now understand what you are going through and you understand how they feel as well, thereby opening a positive chapter.

Finding a job and scaling the bias hurdles

Possessing a criminal record makes finding employment very hard. When trying to move forward, financial strain is one of the most popular reasons why people become repeat offenders.

Businesses are reluctant to hire people with criminal records and this is disheartening when someone is not even given a chance due to a past mistake. A good suggestion is to start your own business. What are you good at? What skills do you have? You could get a loan from friends and family to start a business. This would help build your self-confidence and self-worth and you would be creating a platform that you can control and even give other ex-offenders a chance on your platform.

So, get the right attitude and start considering starting your business because the truth is that employment opportunities for people with a criminal record is very limited.

Hire an Attorney to expunge your record.

If you are eligible to have your criminal record expunged, you should contact an experienced lawyer or law firm, such as Sevens Legal APC, who exist just for such cases to find out the steps to take towards enxpunging your record, so that experienced criminal defence attorneys can deploy their legal connections and experience to your advantage. This would drastically increase your chances of getting employment again, without the bias of a criminal record hanging over your head. According to Samantha Greene, you could answer “no” to questions relating to possession of a criminal record once your record is expunged.

Join a Non-Profit Organization.

There are nonprofit organizations and programs geared towards helping ex-offenders get back on track and re integrate into the society through education, fulfilling charity work and viable job opportunities. They offer educational programs to teach ex-offenders best job practices, interviewing skills and how to honestly answer employers on questions relating to their criminal record. These programs also find employers and jobs willing to hire ex-offenders and make this information available so if you join these programs you would be given these job opportunities as well.

A lot of people with criminal records have said that having been plagued by the mistakes of their past for a long time they have found different mediums to turn their lives around and prove to their communities that they are on a positive path. By starting a business, getting involved in nonprofit volunteer programs, charities, positive cause organizations and even going back to school. Also, if you need money to survive and these are not viable options, according to several people, the food industry offers quite a fair chance to ex-offenders in employment opportunities. Employers should also learn to give people a second chance!

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