How can a criminal record affect someone's future?

Answer

A criminal record can make it hard to get a job. It might also cause problems when looking to rent property. Felonies are even more serious, and they may make it impossible to work in certain fields or to vote.

Even after people leave prison or finish a probation sentence, their criminal records generally stick around. Most employers require applicants to list any crimes they have been convicted of, and landlords often do so as well. Those who have been convicted of a crime may have to take extra steps to encourage people to hire them or let them rent property.

Felonies are even more damaging. Convicted felons cannot hold a wide range of jobs, and those convicted of certain crimes may not be able to live near schools, parks or other areas. Felons are often stripped of the right to vote, and petitioning to have voting rights restored can be difficult.

There are ways to get some criminal records sealed or even expunged. Those who plead down to lesser charges often lobby for this, and prosecutors often accept. Relatively minor crimes are likely to be eligible for sealing or removal, but it may take some time. Professional help is often necessary to navigate the legal system.

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