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How Does a Criminal Record Affect Your Life?

Posted on November 9, 2023 in

Seek legal advice on how a criminal record can impact your life 

Given our fallible nature, it’s inevitable that we’ll make mistakes now and again. Some mistakes, however, are more severe and could land us in legal trouble and jail. How does a criminal record affect your life?

If you are charged with a crime, you will have a criminal record that will only make your life difficult. The criminal record stays with you for years and can impede you from reaching your goals. This is why a Phoenix criminal defense attorney is necessary for your case. Without the help of a criminal defense attorney, you endanger your career, home, and family.

Snader Law Group is ready to defend you against any criminal charges you are facing. Howard Snader, our Arizona board-certified criminal law attorney, can give you the aggressive and proactive defense you need to protect your rights today. Call our law firm today and book an appointment for a free consultation!


What is a Crime?

A crime is a wrongful conduct prohibited by law and punishable by loss of liberty (incarceration). Legislators at the state and federal levels set the punishments for crimes in the statute.


Criminal versus Civil Law

Crimes, in general, involve an action that causes public harm to society as a whole and extends beyond personal injuries. A breach of contract, for example, mainly affects the contract’s parties (and is a civil action), whereas criminal activities, such as murder, drunk driving, or theft, injure and harm individual victims and society.

In addition, criminal law varies from civil law in various ways. A prosecutor, for instance, pursues criminal charges against the accused on behalf of the state or federal government. A private lawyer, on the other hand, brings a civil lawsuit to settle a dispute involving private parties. A criminal prosecution or conviction may end in imprisonment and penalties, but a civil case usually results in monetary damages or changes to a person’s legal status (such as parental rights or divorce), but not imprisonment.


What are the Types of Criminal Offenses?

Criminal charges are often divided into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors.  Non-criminal violations are referred to as infractions. A felony is a serious criminal charge with a minimum sentence of one year in jail. Misdemeanors are minor criminal offenses with a maximum punishment of one year in prison.

There is also an additional category in Arizona called “wobbler” crimes. A wobbler is an offense that can result in either a misdemeanor charge or a felony charge. Having a criminal history, regardless of the type of crime, can significantly impact the misdemeanor or felony charge you are currently facing.


What is the Impact of Prior Criminal Convictions on Future Cases?

A criminal record will have a detrimental impact on any future criminal charges brought against you by prosecutors. Previous criminal convictions or diversionary proceedings can lead to the prosecutor treating you severely and prosecuting you with more severe charges.

Consider the following scenario: you have a criminal history, and the prosecution can charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony for a wobbler violation. In this instance, the prosecution will likely want to charge you with a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

If you’re back in court again on the same or a comparable charge from the past, your new charges may result in harsher punishment for the same offense. An example of this is drunk driving (DUI). Each DUI may result in additional charges. If you are accused of a second or additional DUI, you will face more severe charges than if you were charged with a first DUI.

How Does a Criminal Record Increase Your Punishment?

The Arizona Sentencing Guidelines determine felony sentencing in Arizona. The Arizona Sentencing Guidelines classify offenses and criminal histories to assist judges in deciding an appropriate criminal sentence. A criminal conviction can lead to time in state prison.

A notable felony conviction can lead to life in state prison or the death penalty. Arizona has not used the death penalty since 2014, but the state might be poised to restore death penalty convictions.

Those facing mandatory minimum sentences in Arizona may face even harsher penalties. A judge may increase the sentence of a repeat offender in Arizona under the Arizona sentencing guidelines.


How Does a Criminal Record Affect You?

A criminal record will considerably impact many areas of a person’s life if they do not have good legal representation.


Eligibility for Employment

People who have been convicted of a crime and are looking for employment may find it hard to find work. There may be severe restrictions against working in locations involving alcohol, computers, or children, depending on the offense. A criminal record will be investigated since most employers also do background checks on applicants they’re interested in.

It is, therefore, crucial to be truthful while completing an application since its credibility will need to be checked. A criminal record may not prevent a person from getting hired if they show how they have changed and learned from the experience. References are also required for monitoring and assessing an offender’s progress since they provide proof from other people to the employer that the offender has improved.


Educational Opportunities

Similar to job seeking, many schools ask applicants on their application about any previous criminal convictions. Answering these questions truthfully is critical since dishonesty can result in a denied admission. However, school policies dictate how they treat a student with a criminal history.

A criminal record may disqualify a student from getting accepted to specific university programs. It may also allow admission with particular conditions, such as counseling and frequent check-ins. A criminal conviction might also affect your prospects of receiving financial aid in school.


Housing Opportunities

Trying to apply for a home when you have a criminal record can be very hard. This is relative to the conviction and the person’s willingness to demonstrate improvement after the charge was filed. It is entirely up to the landlord to judge if the prospective resident will be a good tenant. There will be different rules for apartments, condos, homes, etc. People with a criminal record may face either permanent or temporary housing denial.

A criminal record may severely restrict an individual’s future opportunities. The Snader Law Group may help you avoid such problems by expunging convictions. We aim to erase any past convictions from a client’s record, allowing them to live the life they choose without limitations. Do not allow the past to keep you or a loved one from experiencing life to the fullest. Contact our Phoenix criminal defense attorney now!


Child Custody

If you are involved in a custody dispute and have a felony conviction in Arizona on your record, you can be denied joint custody. When your case concerns domestic violence, drugs, or a DUI, you will be considered an unfit guardian unless you prove that your crime is more than five years ago.


What is Expungement?

Expungement is sealing records of arrest, conviction, and other related details from the public. Almost every state has passed legislation that allows people to have arrests and convictions removed from their records. Though the specifics differ by state, most states’ laws specify that after an arrest or conviction has been expunged, it is unnecessary to disclose it, even to prospective employers or landlords.

In Arizona, under A.R.S. § 13-911, people with convictions may now seal their records from public view, which makes it easier to qualify for public housing and other benefits. The law, which went into effect on January 1, will allow people to effectively rejoin society by permitting them to seal their criminal records under specific conditions. Previous legislation could only put a criminal record aside, not erase it.

There are significant timelines to keep in mind with this new Arizona law. Applicants must satisfy all terms and conditions of the court’s sentence (including payment of any fines, fees, and restitution) and apply after the waiting period for the correct class of misdemeanor or felony the applicant seeks to have expunged. The following are the waiting periods:

  • Class 2 or 3 felonies have a 10-year waiting period.
  • Class 4, 5, or 6 felonies have a five-year waiting period.
  • Class 1 misdemeanors have a three-year waiting period/
  • Class 2 or 3 misdemeanors carry a two-year waiting period.
  • People who have a history of criminal convictions may face additional waiting periods.

The following crimes will not be eligible for expungement:


Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney You Can Trust

Only a small but reputable law firm like The Snader Law Group can provide the kind of personalized service that we give to our clients. Our clients get Howard Snader personally on the line, not a paralegal or an associate.

Our law firm defends clients accused of serious crimes such as murder, drug possession, sexual assault, and white-collar crime. We have defended clients against every conceivable kind of criminal charge, so we know where the state has holes in its case. Howard Snader is an experienced litigator who will give you the best trial if your case goes to court.

If you have more questions about how a criminal record can affect your life, call us now and book an appointment for a free consultation so we can give you answers!