Parents should expect young people to make mistakes. When a mistake results in an arrest, however, it's important to make sure that mistake does not result in a conviction. Even a misdemeanor conviction can have a negative and lasting effect on a person's life.
Prosecutors sometimes offer plea bargains that allow defendants to avoid jail time. If that plea comes with a criminal conviction, however, it is no bargain. In Georgia, a criminal conviction is forever.
What harm can come from a misdemeanor conviction?
Background checks have become a fact of life. A person who has a criminal record may be affected a number of ways:
- They may be denied admission to the college of their choice.
- They may find it difficult to rent an apartment where they want to live.
- An employer may not hire them.
- They may be barred from certain careers.
- A bank may not give them a loan.
- They may be denied government benefits.
- With a drug conviction, they may not be eligible for federal student loans.
- With a sex crime conviction, they may be forced to register as a sex offender in the future-even if the offense does not currently require registration.
How can I avoid a criminal conviction?
In Georgia, it may be possible to resolve a first-time criminal offense without a conviction. After resolving the criminal charges, records of the arrest may be sealed so they will not be visible to employers, landlords and others. Once a person pleads guilty to a criminal offense, however, that option is off the table.
To protect your future, seek legal advice from an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible if you or your child are accused of a crime.