Despite the best efforts of you and your defense attorney, sometimes it is impossible to completely avoid being convicted of criminal charges. The modern criminal justice system is, sadly, designed to push defendants towards accepting plea agreements rather than proceeding to trial. This is not to say that all plea agreements are bad things; the seriousness of the punishment for various criminal charges increases very quickly when you are charged with higher level felony offenses. The individual facts of your case may be such that a plea agreement for a reduced punishment is a better option than the potential risks of proceeding to trial. A plea agreement IS a conviction, however, careful thought must be made before agreeing to plead guilty to any offense.
The consequences of a criminal conviction can be far-reaching, and may impact you in ways that you haven’t considered, yet. For example, if you are convicted of a felony offense, you are disqualified under federal law from working in certain areas, including the healthcare, financial, and educational fields. In Indiana, you would also lose your right to own or possess a firearm or ammunition. Felony convictions also impact your ability to rent an apartment or live in federally subsidized housing. They can also impact certain federal benefits, such as social security and Medicaid.
Many offenses, including most misdemeanors, can be enhanced to more serious charges if you have previous convictions for the same offense. Employers are increasingly looking at background checks of prospective employees, and even a misdemeanor conviction can cause problems for people looking for work.
Drug or alcohol convictions can also have consequences going forward. A person with a substance abuse conviction may find it difficult or impossible to get federal financial aid for school. A DUI conviction may cause you to lose your current automobile insurance, and will cause you to pay more for insurance due to the belief that you are a “high risk” driver. Almost all substance-related convictions can cause driver’s license suspensions, and may count towards your license being suspended as a habitual traffic violator.
Once a conviction is entered against you, removing that conviction can be very difficult. The remedies available to persons convicted of crimes in Indiana are limited, and take a good deal of time to accomplish. It is a far better idea to fight to avoid a conviction than it is to fix the conviction at a later point in time. You should NEVER sign a guilty plea simply because you do not want to pay for the expense of a trial. The long-term consequences of a conviction on your record may cost more over time than the short-term expense of a trial.
If you or someone you know has been accused of committing a criminal offense, call us immediately to discuss the case. Don’t agree to any guilty pleas until a qualified attorney has examined all of the facts of your case and advised you as to the options available to you.