The disadvantages of a criminal background
Having a criminal record can impact your life in numerous ways. It may jeopardise your ability to gain employment, buy a home, obtain custody over your children, travel, immigrate or even find new friends.
In the legal world, these repercussions are known as the "collateral consequences of criminal charges" or the "four C's." Given the far-reaching consequences of having a criminal record, you may want to consider having your record expunged or pardoned, if possible.
Limits employment opportunities
Many employers ask potential employees about their criminal history during the application process. While having a criminal record does not necessarily preclude you from getting a job, some employers are not inclined to hire people convicted of a crime. In addition, if you are convicted of a felony, there are certain jobs from which you will be automatically disqualified (e.g., private detection, jewellery sales, taxi driver, airport personnel).
During the application process, you should be honest about your criminal history. If you are discovered to have lied after being hired, you risk being fired and losing unemployment or welfare benefits. You should, however, learn your rights. You are not required to volunteer information about your criminal record if your employer doesn't ask. Further, if your record has been "erased," potential employers do not have the right to question you about it, nor do you have to bring it up.
- Many employers ask potential employees about their criminal history during the application process.
- Further, if your record has been "erased," potential employers do not have the right to question you about it, nor do you have to bring it up.
May cause difficulty in obtaining a loan
People with a criminal history may have a difficult time obtaining a bank loan for a mortgage or starting a business. Lending institutions always take into account the character of the person applying for the loan. They investigate the applicant's criminal record, credit history, family ties and standing in the community. To loan money, the bank must feel confident that the applicant will repay her loan. Having a criminal record (depending on the crime committed) heightens the chance that you will be viewed as a high risk for defaulting on your loan.
- People with a criminal history may have a difficult time obtaining a bank loan for a mortgage or starting a business.
May limit travel
Having a criminal history may affect your ability to travel to certain countries. When applying for a travel visa, many countries ask whether you have a criminal record. While an affirmative answer will not necessarily bar you from travel, it might--particularly if you have been convicted of a crime involving drugs or firearms. If you have a criminal record, make sure you do your research before making international travel plans.
- Having a criminal history may affect your ability to travel to certain countries.
- When applying for a travel visa, many countries ask whether you have a criminal record.
Inability to immigrate
The UK Border Agency establishes that people with a criminal history may fall for refusal of an entry clearance. The criteria vary depending on the length of the sentence and how much time passed since the conviction, the harm caused by the offence, persistence in the disregard for the law, among other factors.
Barbara Diggs is a freelance writer living in France. A former corporate lawyer, she has been writing professionally since 2006. She has been published in numerous print and online magazines, specializing in travel, parenting, history and law. Diggs is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Stanford Law School.