As a college student, you’re considered an adult in the eyes of the justice system. So, if you’re charged with a criminal offense, the stakes can be high. There’s a good chance that you’ll be offered a plea deal in your case, but before even considering one, you need to understand the full consequences of a criminal conviction. Once you see what’s at risk, you might be motivated to fight the charges levied against you.
The collateral consequences of criminal conviction
The impact of a criminal conviction can be wide-ranging, touching nearly every aspect of your life. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll have to contend with if you’re convicted on the charges you’re facing:
- Incarceration: This is the first penalty to come to mind when people think of criminal conviction. Depending on the crime with which you’ve been charged, you could be facing significant time, too. Being stripped of your freedom takes you from your family, friends, and the life that you hoped to build.
- Fines: As a college student, you’re just trying to get on your feet and find stability. All of that can be rattled by the fines imposed upon you after conviction. Although your parents might be able to help, there’s still a chance that your conviction will leave them in a difficult financial spot.
- Criminal record: A conviction is going to stay on your record unless and until you can get it expunged, which could take years or even decades. This means that you might struggle to find employment, since your background check will come back that you have a conviction on your record. This can prevent you from developing the career you want before you even get it off the ground.
- Professional licenses: If you’re going to college to become a professional who requires a license, such as an attorney, a teacher, a doctor, a pharmacist, or even an insurance broker, then your criminal conviction could bring your career to a stop before it starts, since you might be denied a license based on your conviction. In that case, the education you’ve received may not be as valuable as you thought.
- Driver’s license suspension: Some convictions, especially those tied to drunk driving, will lead to license suspension. This can make it challenging to get to school, work, and family events, creating a major inconvenience.
- Immigration issues: If you’re not a citizen of the United States, then you might face immigration-related consequences that could jeopardize your future in this country or your ability to obtain the immigration status that you want.
- Gun restrictions: Some criminal convictions can impact your ability to own or possess a firearm, thus restricting the freedom you once enjoyed.
- Student loans: If you’re convicted of a drug offense, then you might be denied the financial resources you need to continue your college education. Again, this can cut your future short.
- Damage to your reputation: As if all the consequences mentioned above isn’t enough, a conviction can cause extensive harm to your reputation. Your standing in the community can take a hit, and if you have a child, then your criminal record can be used against you in custody proceedings.
Fight against criminal conviction to protect your future
As you can see, there are a lot of penalties you can face if you end up convicted on your charges. While you might be able to reduce the severity of them by negotiating a plea deal, you should only do that after you’ve exhausted your criminal defense options. After all, you might have strong criminal defense tactics at your fingertips that could defeat the prosecution’s case and spare you from the serious collateral consequences of criminal conviction.