If you’re facing criminal charges, you’re probably worried about what a conviction could have in store for you. This is understandable, especially given the harsh penalties that are allowable under the law and that most prosecutors threaten. But what’s really at stake in your case? Let’s take a look.
- Incarceration: This is what accused individuals fear most. Depending on the charges that have been levied against you, you could be threatened with years in county jail or a state prison. This outcome can, of course, rip you from your family and the life that you’ve worked hard to build.
- Fines: Some criminal offenses require that you pay a fine or some sort of restitution. This can be extremely costly, especially if you’re already on uncertain financial footing like so many other Washingtonians.
- Probation: Even if you escape incarceration, you could wind up on probation, which may require you to complete certain programs and submit to routine drug testing. Straying from the terms of your probation, sometimes if even unintentionally, can lead to the revocation of a suspended sentence, which means you go to jail. Having this threat looming over you can be oppressive.
- Ignition interlock device: If you’re convicted of drunk driving charges, you might be forced to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This can be costly, but it can also be embarrassing and inconvenient.
- Family law consequences: A criminal conviction can wreak havoc on an existing child custody order. Your child’s other parent will be free to use your conviction against you by arguing that you should have reduced contact with your child. This can cause significant harm to your parent-child relationship and further damage any semblance of a co-parenting relationship that you had with the other parent.
- Employment problems: While an arrest may in and of itself lead to the loss of a job, a conviction will put a mar on your record that future employers will see when they run a background check. This means that you might miss out on employment opportunities due to having a criminal record. This reduces your options and very well may reduce your income.
- Housing issues: Many landlords won’t rent to someone who has a felony conviction, and some mortgage companies are leery to lend to those who have a criminal history, as it may be apparent that they struggle to obtain and maintain a job that pays enough to cover mortgage payments.
- Reputational harm: As if all of that isn’t enough, a criminal conviction can wreck your image in the community. Those who were once friendly to you may shun you, and you might find it hard to find support for other issues that come up in life when the time comes.
These aren’t all of the collateral damages that you’ll see after a criminal conviction, either. So, you’ll need to have a full understanding of what’s at stake in your case before moving forward.
The good news
Although that list might have you terrified of what’s to come, the good news is that you’re probably going to have criminal defense options at your disposal, even if it’s just entering into a plea agreement where you can minimize or even eliminate the harshest penalties being threatened against you. The future probably isn’t as bleak as you fear it to be.
But in order to protect your interests and your future as fully as possible, you need to know how to aggressively challenge the prosecution’s case. As daunting as that may seem, you can find support from a criminal defense attorney who knows how to competently navigate these criminal cases and their complexities.