Maybe you served your time and just wanted to move on. Or perhaps you beat your charges and didn’t want to deal with more legal nonsense.
Whatever your reason, you decided to put off getting your record sealed or expunged.
Why? Because even if you have put the past behind you, if you’re lugging around a criminal record, others won’t see it that way, and it’s likely to have a negative impact on your life.
In the legal community, we have a term for this: “collateral consequences of criminal charges” or the “Four Cs.” These are the indirect repercussions you suffer from having a conviction on your record.
In this post, we’re going to detail some of the most common collateral consequences related to having a criminal record. If anything sounds familiar – a knowledgeable Colorado attorney can help.
Trouble Getting (and Keeping) a Job
Stacks of viable candidates on the table for virtually every position out there today coupled with the rapid growth of digital criminal background checks leaves ex-offenders in a tough spot. When hiring managers see their record, it’s a huge strike against them, and a big reason most end up with lower-wage jobs in construction or general manual labor, maintenance, and assembly line or factory jobs.
The Urban Institute Justice Policy Center found that 72% of those with a criminal record who were employed had a full-time job at a median wage of $8/hr. Ouch.
Relationships are hard. Things change, and people grow. You may have taken steps to correct your patterns of behavior and improve your life.
However, having a criminal record can continue to limit your child custody rights based on behaviors you’ve put well behind you – especially if the charges involve violent acts or instances of domestic abuse.
Loss of Housing Opportunities
Standard practice for securing a rental is putting down a deposit – part of which is typically used to run a background check.
If you’re looking for public housing, a record is certain to get you turned away. Even when you are able to cover the lease without government assistance, a record may cause denial. Alternatively, much higher rates and deposits may be imposed, limiting your options even further.
The Social Stigma
When people know you have a record, you’re treated differently. This includes friends, family, coworkers, and more, but when we talk about social stigma, we’re referring society as a whole.
Incarceration can cause a domino effect – limited work and housing opportunities may lead to lower credit scores, further impacting your ability to buy a car and insure it, for instance – often for years.
You may lose your right to vote – including on legislation that might change the way we look at criminal history and the candidates that advocate for change.
Although Colorado continues to push forward on legislation like “Ban the Box” bill which will make it harder for employers to discriminate against people with criminal records, your best bet is a clean record. If you have the option to expunge, don’t wait to take advantage.
While expungement doesn’t erase what happened, the effects of your past actions are more likely to be kept where they should – in the past.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.