Perhaps you've been accused of a crime after a traffic stop, or maybe the police have contacted you after someone else mentioned your name in connection with a crime. Regardless of how you've ended up with a misdemeanor charge, maybe you're not too worried—after all, it's not a felony, right? Don't get too comfortable. Although a misdemeanor isn't as serious as a felony, it can have a serious impact on your reputation, your career opportunities, your education, and in some narrow circumstances, your right to parent your own children. Before you decide to accept your charges and plead guilty, make sure you know what you could be giving up.
Your Educational Future
A misdemeanor conviction could affect your ability to pursue higher education. A conviction for say, a drug offense, might limit your financial aid options, making it more difficult to take out student loans. Additionally, a criminal record could cause you to be rejected from competitive schools. If you do get into the school of your choice, certain programs may be closed to students with criminal records.
Think About Your Career
A growing number of career paths require professional certification or licensure. Depending on your intended career path, you may be required to undergo a background check before you're permitted to start your career. Even if you are already established in your career, you may be unable to renew your license or advance to a more prestigious position if you have a criminal conviction staining your record.
What About Your Family?
No matter how minor your misdemeanor charge is, it could have a lifelong impact on your family. If you and your children's other parent end up in a custody battle, your previous conviction could be used to prove that you're an unfit parent or that the other parent deserves more parenting time than you.
Consider, too, how a conviction could limit your freedom to help your children with their activities. Quite a few volunteer tasks and positions require parents to undergo a criminal background check. A misdemeanor could prevent you from being your kids' Scout leader, coaching their soccer team, or even reading in their classroom.
Exploring Your Options
The decision to accept a misdemeanor conviction is one that could follow you for the rest of your life. Before you make any final decisions, it's important to seek legal counsel and figure out what your other options are. Depending on the charge, you may be able to get your charge reduced, have your case dismissed, or qualify for a diversion program.
Don't take on your misdemeanor charges alone! Turn to WTB Law for legal representation that reflects your best interests. Call us at 207-571-8146 to get started right away.