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The Importance Of A Clean Criminal Record In The US

According to estimates by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, over 250 million arrests have taken place in the US over the last two decades. Due to this staggering number of arrests, 77.7 million names have been collected by the FBI in its master database, which represents approximately a third of the total American adults. This number continues to grow by almost 12,000 names daily.

Around two decades ago, this kind of criminality would not pose much of a problem for the accused and convicted people as it does in the present times, where it is super easy to access information. The biggest problem in this regard is the way in which landlords, universities, banks, and employers carry out background checks on prospective tenants, students, borrowers, and employees. People with an arrest on their record might be unfairly discriminated against, even if the result of the arrest was not a conviction and he/she was proven to be innocent.

Unfortunately, if a person is accused of a crime or has been arrested but later cleared of any crime by the court, there is still a negative impact on the individual. The court follows the law, and no person will be viewed as guilty or be criminally punished until he/she is convicted of his/her crime. That said, family, community members, prospective romantic partners, schools, employers, friends, and others do not necessarily follow these high-minded rules of law.

Having a criminal record minimizes your opportunities in life. Many companies or organizations are wary of individuals who have a criminal record or have been arrested as they believe that such persons do not respect the law. They cannot be blamed because joining an organization, or a company requires compliance with a set of rules and regulations. That said, it would not be fair to you if you had been wrongly arrested and/or charged for a crime that you did not commit. It is also noteworthy that the record of an arrest will remain even if your case was ultimately dismissed and you were acquitted. However, you can get the records destroyed through expungement.

A criminal record could lead to you missing out on a number of opportunities such as:

  • Employment

Most employers prefer individuals with a clean criminal record. Remember that you could potentially be legally terminated if you kept your criminal record a secret and it is discovered by your employer at a later stage.

  • Higher Education

According to the Higher Education Act, 1998, students who have been convicted of any offenses related to drugs are disqualified from any grant, loan, or work assistance. Furthermore, a criminal record can also disqualify you from getting admitted to a learning institution or a university.

  • Professional Certifications & Licenses

Certain criminal convictions might not allow you to obtain professional certifications and state licenses.

  • Federal Assistance

Having a criminal record may also disqualify you from obtaining federally assisted housing.

  • Loans

Having a criminal record could also disqualify you from getting loans. Alternatively, you might also have to pay higher interest rates. Certain offenses can also lead to a denial of financial aid or loans.

  • Housing

Residents and private landlords of an apartment building may also legally deny housing to individuals with a criminal record.

  • Regular Insurance Rates

You might be charged higher insurance premiums by insurance companies or might even be considered “uninsurable” by them.

  • Right To Firearm License

Gun ownership can be greatly limited due to a criminal record.

  • Adoption

If you are looking to adopt a child, your criminal record will be investigated thoroughly. Certain convictions disqualify individuals from adopting.

  • Immigration Matters

A criminal record can be disastrous for foreign nationals looking to enter the US. This includes obtaining an immigrant visa, a work permit, or a green card. If you are an applicant with a serious criminal record, you will not be eligible to obtain a green card at all. On the flip side, applicants with a conviction record of low-level crimes might be approved for a green card. That said, it is not always easy to determine whether or not your crime is severe enough to prevent you from obtaining a green card.

Hire An Experienced Attorney For Help

Remember that not all offenses can be expunged, but all convictions have the opportunity to be vacated. Therefore, you must not take any chances and ensure a clean criminal record to enjoy the most opportunities in life. Seek legal advice from one of our expert immigration and criminal attorneys at Reyes & Schroeder Associates, P.C. We handle post-conviction matters such as expunging your record or vacating your conviction.

Analyzing the impact of a specific crime on the eligibility for a green card is one of the most complex parts of immigration law. Each jurisdiction has different laws regarding a criminal record, although similar criminal laws may exist in various states. Therefore, each law under which an individual is convicted needs to be compared to the listings in the federal immigration statutes. If you are a foreign national who has a criminal record, we strongly recommend you consult with an immigration attorney if you are thinking of applying for a green card. Our experienced immigration attorneys can help you understand the impact of your conviction on the immigration process and help you get a visa/green card. For more queries, call us on (323) 553-1541.

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