There’s a perception in popular media that a criminal charge is the beginning of the end of your life. Once that happens, the person being charged is essentially reduced to a shell of their former self, or so the thinking goes.
Criminal charges should definitely be taken seriously, but once a person has served their time and/or performed their community service, there are ways for them to get back on track. The trick is to be proactive rather than simply sitting around and waiting for life to happen. Acknowledge your mistakes and move forward to avoid getting stuck in the past.
Not every person convicted of a crime realizes that an expungement is an option. In fact, there’s a lot about expungement that is poorly understood. Basically, expungement is a way to erase a conviction from the record. Sometimes people say “expunge” when they really mean “seal.” A sealed record is no longer public record; an expunged record is no longer a record at all.
The laws regarding expungement aren’t really consistent from state to state; it’s an easier process in some states than in others. Misdemeanors are more likely to be expunged than felonies, especially violent felonies. No convicted murderers are appearing before judges and getting their records expunged; that’s now how the process works. But a convicted shoplifter might have a shot, especially if they shoplifted when they were a juvenile.
If you’re curious about expungement, talk to a lawyer in your state with a good track record of getting their clients’ records expunged. A conviction in Trenton means you need a New Jersey expungement lawyer, for instance. Don’t expect expungement to work miracles, especially in the age of Google.
Expungement doesn’t mean news organizations will be required to delete any articles that mentioned your arrest. If the article was accurate at the time it was written, then it’s going to be very hard to get it removed. There are reputation management companies that can work with you to bury unflattering search engine results, though that requires spending more money.
Another key to staying on the straight and narrow is making sure you have the right kind of education for today’s job market. A criminal conviction can make people realize that it’s long past time for them to go back to school and finish their degree.
It could be a GED, a bachelor’s degree, or even a certification program that allows them to work as a cosmetologist or plumber. Contact local colleges by phone or email and see if you can set up an appointment with an academic counselor.
Whether you want to enroll in a program for dental hygienists in Jersey City, NJ, or study to be an electrician in Savannah, Georgia, you should be able to find a course of study that fits your schedule. There’s evidence that prison education programs lower the chances that an inmate will re-offend once they’re released. It makes sense that education would also be helpful once someone is back on the outside. Instead of hanging out with people who are a bad influence, form a study group with your new classmates. It’s a great way to inspire and motivate each other to become both better students and better people in general.