A simple search of the term, “criminal records” reveals just how long convictions can remain on your record. It varies with each state thanks to different state laws in the United States. Besides, it also depends on the kind of crime you are convicted for. Take for instance the crimes of possession, larceny, rape, robbery, property damage, assault, murder or crimes involving weapons. In most cases the records can remain for life unless it is otherwise expunged by you personally.
A major point to note here is the different between conviction, arrest and charge. All arrests, charges, misdemeanor, court dates and felony convictions all stay on record and you must get them expunged to remove them.
Remember that these records are all public and are stored at different government levels. Anyone can access them and law enforcement agencies tend to share their database of criminal records. However, just because criminal records are public does not mean everyone can see them. You have to personally give consent to whosoever asks to see your criminal record. It is only the records of deceased persons that are actually open to the public.
Served time already? Here are some of your rights that may be in jeopardy.
- Parenting rights may be taken from you in the form of visiting rights or custody.
- If you were receiving federal aid for your education, then you may no longer be eligible for the same.
- No longer legally obtain firearms
- Become potential suspects in police line-ups.
- No longer allowed visa to enter specific countries
- Will not receive security clearance for security jobs and teaching positions.
- Your right to hold public office may be taken away.
- Total of 14 states ban ex-convicts from all voting privileges.
How to Handle a Permanent Record
It is unfortunate that you have a permanent record. However, you are not alone. Most records simply cannot be expunged or sealed, with them remaining on your resume forever. Based on the kind of job you are looking for after serving your mandatory jail sentence, you may need to adopt various strategies. One key strategy is honesty with any potential employer. Be upfront and tell them you have a criminal record. It is better to be denied a job from the start than to lie and later be found out on. Remember that background search is not difficult at all in today’s internet day and age.
You can always go through outreach services and depending on your skillset, maybe even manage to find a decent job out of prison. From becoming a counsellor to therapist, there are many jobs in outreach services that you can take advantage of.
But please remember that there are equal number of employers who will look at ex-convicts and see the opportunity to exploit them by not paying minimum wages, working them over-time and even dismissing them whenever they wish to. Be careful of these employers and complain to your outreach service immediately.