03 Oct 23

How an Attorney Can Lessen the Impact of a Criminal Record

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Last Updated on: 24th October 2023, 08:37 pm


How an Attorney Can Lessen the Impact of a Criminal Record

Having a criminal record can make life real tough. It can be hard to get a job, rent an apartment, or do other normal stuff. But there are things an attorney can do to help lessen the impact of a record. I’m gonna talk about some of those things here.

Get the Charges Dismissed or Reduced

One of the best things an attorney can do is fight to get the charges against you dismissed or reduced. This means either getting the case thrown out completely or getting the charges lowered to something less serious. There’s a bunch of ways charges can get dismissed or reduced:

  • Show there’s weak evidence or holes in the prosecutor’s case
  • Negotiate a plea deal for a lesser charge
  • Raise constitutional rights violations like illegal searches or lack of Miranda warning
  • Show mistaken identity or false accusations
  • Argue self-defense or lack of criminal intent

If the charges get dismissed, there won’t be anything on your record. If they get reduced, the record will show less serious offenses which is better. This really improves your chances of avoiding long-term impacts from a conviction.

Avoid a Felony Conviction

Another important thing is avoiding a felony conviction. Felonies are the most serious criminal charges like murder, robbery, rape etc. Having a felony on your record makes life way harder compared to a misdemeanor. It can ban you from jobs, voting, and owning a gun. It can also increase jail time for future offenses.

So if charges can’t get dismissed completely, an attorney will work hard to get felony charges reduced to misdemeanors. This still leaves a record, but stops the worst impacts of a felony conviction.

Avoid Jail Time

Jail time is another huge impact of a conviction an attorney will try to avoid. Even a short jail stay can cause major disruption to your life and future prospects. It can mean losing a job, falling behind in school, or losing your housing.

By negotiating plea deals or alternative sentences, an attorney may be able to get probation or diversion programs instead of jail. These still require supervision and conditions, but allow you to avoid being locked up. This prevents the worst hardships of incarceration.

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Seal or Expunge Criminal Records

Sealing or expunging a criminal record can also reduce the impact substantially. Sealing keeps the record private from most people. Expunging goes further and erases it completely. Each state has different laws on when records can be sealed/expunged based on offense type, time elapsed etc. An attorney can advise if you qualify and help file the paperwork.

For example, many states allow first-time nonviolent offenses to be sealed after a period of time. An attorney can request this so the conviction isn’t visible to employers, landlords etc. Expunging a record requires meeting stricter criteria, but completely clears the offense from your record.

File for a Certificate of Rehabilitation

If sealing or expunging a record isn’t possible, filing for a Certificate of Rehabilitation can still help lessen the impact. This is a court order recognizing your successful rehabilitation since the conviction. It doesn’t erase the conviction, but formally acknowledges you’ve turned your life around.

Certificates of Rehab can improve chances of getting professional licenses, loan approval, and other benefits. It shows you’ve worked hard to overcome past mistakes and change for the better. An attorney can advise if you qualify and handle submitting the application.

Negotiate Plea Deals Carefully

Plea bargains are double-edged swords. Accepting a plea deal can reduce charges and avoid trial, but can also mean pleading guilty without getting the record sealed. An attorney needs to negotiate carefully to get the best outcome.

Talking with the prosecutor, an attorney may arrange to plead to lesser charges or dismiss charges after completing probation. They can also try “deferred adjudication” where charges get dismissed after probation without pleading guilty first. This totally avoids a conviction. Knowing the options helps get optimal pleas.

Mitigate Sentencing and Supervision

An attorney can also try to reduce sentencing and supervision impacts. They can present mitigating factors to argue for lighter sentences. They can also negotiate conditions of probation or parole to avoid overly restrictive terms.

For example, avoiding bans on computer or Internet use allows more job opportunities. Travel restrictions can also be loosened so you aren’t stuck in one place. Fewer mandates make completing probation simpler.

Summary – Ways Attorneys Can Help

There’s a bunch of ways a good attorney can help reduce the fallout from a criminal record:

  • Get charges dismissed completely
  • Have felony charges reduced to misdemeanors
  • Avoid jail time through alternative sentences
  • Seal or expunge records when possible
  • File for Certificates of Rehabilitation
  • Negotiate plea deals carefully
  • Mitigate sentencing and probation terms
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Having an experienced lawyer in your corner makes a huge difference. They know the system and best ways to minimize the impact on your life. Don’t go it alone. With smart legal help, you can move forward and put past mistakes behind you.