The reality is that criminal convictions come with a broad array of consequences. Not only will you be punished under the law for your misbehavior, but ripple effects of that conviction can spread out to other unexpected aspects of your life. A South Carolina criminal conviction can limit job prospects, result in the denial of government benefits and lead to the loss of certain fundamental privileges such as voting and owning a firearm. To find out more about how a South Carolina criminal conviction can impact your life, keep reading.
The first and most obvious consequence of a criminal conviction is the punishment that will be handed down under the law. The judge who is in charge of your case will decide what sentence to impose depending on the facts presented at trial. Judges can order defendants to pay fines, complete probation or even serve hard time in prison.
Though fines are obviously the least serious form of punishment and are usually reserved for the most minor offenses, it’s crucial to realize that anyone ordered to pay a fine will have still have experienced a criminal conviction. That means that many of the other less obvious effects of a criminal conviction could still apply to you.
One of the most important ways that a criminal conviction can impact other areas of your life is that it can harm your prospects of securing employment. The reality is that many employers require applicants to answer questions about previous criminal convictions, a tactic that often causes otherwise qualified individuals to be denied chances at jobs that might have been good matches.
Though there’s currently a push by some to “ban the box” (meaning eliminate or more carefully monitor when employers ask about criminal records) the reality is that finding a new job with a criminal record can still seem like an uphill battle. Unfortunately, legislators at the national and state levels are largely responsible for this, with Congress passing laws that banned former felons from working in a a number of occupations. State lawmakers across the country followed suit and today, one estimate from the EEOC notes that more than 800 occupations are off limits to former felons.
Though it can come as a rude awakening to many people, current laws say that those who have been convicted of crimes can be denied a range of government benefits, including student loans. It can seem counterproductive to deny those struggling to regain their place in society a chance to receive a good education, but the reality is that a variety of federally funded student loan options are off the table for those with certain criminal convictions, including sex crimes, crimes of violence or multiple drug charges.
Housing and other government benefits
The federal government has banned access to certain government benefits like food stamps for individuals with certain convictions on their criminal records. For example, anyone who has been convicted of food stamp fraud or anyone convicted of a felony drug offense is ineligible to receive food stamps.
Public housing can also be hard to secure for those with certain criminal convictions in their past. Anyone who was evicted from federal housing for drug-related crimes or who has shown a pattern of alcohol or drug abuse can be barred from receiving public housing assistance. Additionally, sex offenders are also barred from admission to an array of public housing assistance programs.
Another way in which certain criminal convictions can have ripple effects in other aspects of your life is how felons lose the right to vote. According to the ACLU, felony disenfranchisement currently prevents more than 48,000 people in South Carolina from voting, a terrible practice that denies a crucial right in our democracy to a large swath of the state’s citizens.
The law in South Carolina says that convicted felons lose their right to vote but can regain that right once they have completed the probation or parole that accompanies their conviction. Though the process can be a bit time consuming, the good news is that convicted felons in South Carolina can regain their right to vote once they’ve finished paying their debt to society.
The law in South Carolina and many states says that if a person has been convicted of a felony, a violent crime or a crime of domestic violence then he or she is not allowed to possess a firearm. In cases where a person is under a domestic order of protection, he or she is also not permitted to possess a firearm, though this exception can be lifted once the order has expired.
Beyond South Carolina law, convicted felons need to worry about federal law, which clearly says that anyone convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment of a term exceeding one year is barred from possessing a gun. It also bears mentioning that both the state and federal bans on firearms applies not only to guns, but also ammunition, a detail that has been known to trip some people up.
If you’ve been arrested in South Carolina it’s crucial that you hire an experienced SC criminal defense lawyer who can help you navigate such complicated legal matters. Experience matters when handling serious criminal issues and you don’t want to take any chances when your freedom is at stake. David Aylor understands how scary the criminal justice system can be and is here to guide you through the process. If you or someone you know has been arrested and is in need of South Carolina criminal defense lawyer, feel free to contact David Aylor today at 843.577.5530.