A criminal conviction has far-reaching impacts on your life. In addition to serving a sentence in prison or probation, there is now a conviction on your record. This can limit your ability to own a firearm, sit on a jury, and vote, amongst other things. Most importantly, a criminal conviction can severely damage your ability to get a job after being released from prison. This is particularly unfortunate for those who are first-time offenders who had a temporary lapse in judgment.
Certain options are available to first-time offenders early in the criminal justice process. For certain non-violent crimes, many states, including Michigan, have a pre-trial diversion program for first-time offenders where the defendant pleads guilty and serves what is essentially probation, but following the probationary period the charges are dismissed from the defendant’s record. Programs to divert youths under the age of 21 from incarceration and for first-time drug offenders resulting in probation and a dismissal of charges after probation also exist.
Following a conviction, an individual has few options. If you only have one conviction, after five years you may apply to expunge the conviction from your criminal record. Depending on the state you are in, certain minor crimes may be expunged earlier. Expunging a case from your record means that regular law enforcement and the general public cannot learn of your past conviction.
You should approach your job search in a practical way after a conviction. Look first with family, friends and other contacts for job opportunities. Work to build up a track record of steady employment, and do not expect that the first job out of prison will be a very desirable position. Explore your options with employment services agencies, and target jobs that are less likely to be concerned with the nature of your previous conviction.
An experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney can help you take steps to improve your likelihood of employment and to clean up your criminal record. At Grabel & Associates, we have helped individuals explore their options following a conviction for over 13 years. Call us today for a free confidential consultation at (800) 342-7896.