The Serious Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction
Upstate New York Defense Attorneys Fighting for Your Rights Following an Arrest
Serving the areas of Troy, Albany, and Sarasota
It happens daily in New York State. A person has been charged with a relatively minor offense. At the time of the “arrest,” the police officer indicated the charge was minor. Since the person charged did not have a criminal record, there’d be nothing to worry about in the long run. That good news is often confirmed when the person discusses the situation with a few friends. They reiterate that with a clean record, you are only facing a fine. They add, “It’s just a misdemeanor. Sure, you’ll be out a few hundred dollars, but after the short experience in court before the judge – no worries.”
Your Friends Are Wrong: There Are Worries
Unfortunately, your friends are mistaken. Indeed, while you didn’t face any real possibility of jail time because you had a clean record, there are a host of other consequences that flow from a misdemeanor conviction. Thinking about those consequences only after the conviction isn’t a good idea. What are the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction?
In many respects the financial impact of a misdemeanor conviction may be the least severe. That is not, of course, to diminish the hit that a household budget can take when someone has to cough up hundreds (or more) dollars for a fine. Here, your friends have a point, however. Once the fine is paid, the short-term financial implications are behind you. There are other, long-term financial and non-financial implications that need to concern you, however.
While New York State law prohibits an employer or prospective employer from inquiring and acting adversely upon an applicant’s prior arrests or criminal charges that were terminated favorably, prospective employers are permitted, at least in some instances, to consider your criminal record. They can (and do) perform background checks. With the advent of the Internet, it is easier than ever to get background information about an individual. While New York law protects people with criminal records from being unfairly denied jobs or occupational licenses solely because of their conviction record, if you are in a crowded field of candidates, you may never hear exactly why you didn’t get the job offer. Your criminal record may play at least an intangible part. It is difficult enough in some areas of New York to secure employment. You don’t need a strike against you before you even start.
Remember that while most private employers do not have access to individuals’ rap sheets, they are entitled to use other sources, such as the state Office of Court Administration, to obtain criminal record information.
Impact on Housing
More and more these days, private landlords perform background checks related to housing applicants. Landlords are not permitted to bar all persons with convictions from housing. Yet, if you have a conviction on your record and you also have less than a stellar credit rating, you may be denied housing and never hear that was based on the criminal issue.
Impact to Family
In many instances, there is also a negative impact upon the family of the person convicted of the misdemeanor. Many families are financially vulnerable. The loss of funds required to pay a hefty fine can take a bite out of a family’s finances. That loss can also cause resentment and distrust. There is a tendency among those charged with misdemeanors to think that the legal issue only affects the person charged. That just isn’t true. It affects many persons around the “perpetrator,” particularly if the family is already living at the edge.
Your Case is Unique
While the police in New York may hand out hundreds of citations like yours each month, your case is actually unique. It deserves direct attention and, because of the ramifications of a conviction, it likely deserves the attention that only an experienced attorney can provide. The stakes in any case can be quite high. Talking to an attorney after the fact is never as good as talking to one when there is time to pursue the correct strategy.
If you have been charged with any crime, even one that you think is minor, you owe it to yourself and your family to get all the facts and set a strategy. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the judgment and experience to negotiate the best possible plea, and we also have the skill and tenacity required to take your case to trial if necessary.
We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.