A criminal record under criminal laws is a document or database containing information about an individual’s criminal history, including details of any convictions, court appearances, and charges.
The information on a criminal record is collected by law enforcement agencies, such as police departments and the FBI, and is used to track an individual’s criminal activity over time. Criminal records are often used by courts, employers, and other organizations to make decisions about an individual’s qualifications, trustworthiness, and suitability for certain roles or activities.
What Are Some Effects of Having a Criminal Record?
Having a criminal record can have a number of negative effects and disadvantages for an individual.
Some of the most common effects and disadvantages of having a criminal record include:
- Difficulty finding employment: Many employers conduct background checks and may be hesitant to hire someone with a criminal record, particularly for certain types of jobs or positions of trust.
- Limited housing options: Landlords and property managers may also conduct background checks and may be unwilling to rent to someone with a criminal record.
- Difficulty obtaining professional licenses: Some professions, such as healthcare and law enforcement, require background checks and may be difficult to enter or advance in with a criminal record.
- Difficulty obtaining loans or credit: Financial institutions may be hesitant to approve loans or credit for someone with a criminal record.
- Stigma: Having a criminal record can also carry a significant social stigma and may make it difficult for an individual to be accepted or trusted by others.
- Travel Restriction: Some countries may be denied entry to people with certain criminal records, making it difficult or impossible for them to travel internationally.
It’s worth noting that laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, and the impact of a criminal record on an individual’s life can depend on many factors, such as the severity of the crime and the individual’s past conduct since the conviction.
Will My Criminal Record Affect My Ability to Purchase a Home?
The consequences of criminal records can make it more difficult for an individual to purchase or own a home.
Some of the ways in which a criminal record can impact home ownership include:
- Difficulty obtaining a mortgage: Financial institutions may be hesitant to approve a mortgage for someone with a criminal record, particularly if the conviction is related to financial crimes such as fraud or embezzlement.
- Higher mortgage interest rates: Even if an individual with a criminal record is able to obtain a mortgage, they may be charged a higher interest rate, which can make home ownership more expensive.
- Difficulty obtaining home insurance: Homeowners’ insurance providers may be hesitant to insure a home owned by someone with a criminal record or may charge higher rates for coverage.
- Limited housing options: As a renter, landlords and property managers may also conduct background checks and may be unwilling to rent to someone with a criminal record, making it difficult to find a place to live.
- Ineligibility for government programs: Some government programs, such as FHA loans, may be unavailable to individuals with certain types of criminal records.
It’s worth noting that laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, and the impact of a criminal record on an individual’s ability to purchase or own a home can depend on many factors, such as the severity of the crime and the individual’s past conduct since the conviction.
Can I Have My Criminal Record Sealed or Erased?
Record sealing or expungement is the process of legally destroying, removing, or hiding a person’s criminal record from public view.
This means that the records will not be available to the public, including potential employers and landlords, and the individual may legally deny that the event ever occurred.
The process and the availability of record sealing or erasing varies depending on the jurisdiction, but in general, the following criteria must be met:
- The individual has completed their sentence and probation or parole period successfully
- A certain amount of time has passed since the completion of the sentence
- The individual has no new criminal convictions
- The crime committed is not a serious or violent crime
It’s worth noting that even if a record is sealed or expunged, certain government agencies and organizations, such as law enforcement agencies, may still have access to the records.
Additionally, the record may be used again if the individual commits another crime in the future.
Can I Be Discriminated Against for Having a Criminal Record?
It is illegal to discriminate against an individual based on their criminal record in many jurisdictions, but it can still happen.
Discrimination based on a criminal record can occur in various areas, including:
- Employment: Employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and employees based on their criminal records in many places, but they may still use criminal records as a factor in the hiring process or take adverse action against an employee based on their criminal history.
- Housing: Landlords and property managers are also prohibited from discriminating against tenants based on their criminal records in many places, but they may still use criminal records as a factor in the rental process or take adverse action against a tenant based on their criminal history.
- Education: Educational institutions may be prohibited from discriminating against students based on their criminal records in many places, but they may still use criminal records as a factor in the admissions process or take adverse action against a student based on their criminal history.
- Professional Licensing: Some professions such as healthcare, law enforcement, and finance may have regulations that prohibit the granting of licenses to individuals with certain criminal records.
It’s worth noting that laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, and it’s important to check the specific laws in your jurisdiction to understand your rights if you believe you have been discriminated against based on your criminal record.
It’s also important to note that while having a criminal record doesn’t automatically make a person a pariah, it can make it harder to find a job, housing, or access to certain opportunities.
Employers, landlords, and other decision-makers are allowed to use criminal records as a factor in their decision-making process, but they should not use them as an automatic bar to opportunities.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help Addressing a Criminal Record?
While it is not always necessary to hire a criminal lawyer to help address a criminal record, it can be beneficial in certain situations.
A lawyer can help you understand the laws and regulations specific to your jurisdiction and can assist you in determining whether you are eligible for record sealing or expungement. They can also help you navigate the process and increase your chances of success.
Additionally, a lawyer can advise you on other ways to address the impact of a criminal record, such as:
- Pardons and Clemency
- Certificates of Rehabilitation
- Restoration of rights
If the record in question is impacting your ability to find employment, housing, or other areas of life, it may be worth consulting with a lawyer to understand your rights and options and to ensure that you are taking all the appropriate steps to address your criminal record.