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Criminal record can follow you for years, even without conviction

People who are arrested on suspicion of a crime should be aware that the arrest could have long-term implications in their lives, whether they are ever convicted or not. An arrest or conviction can stay on your record for years, potentially affecting your ability to get a job or obtain a loan.

They can also have an impact if you ever decide to run for public office. The Lansing State Journal recently checked up on candidates for various municipal offices in this month's primary elections. The paper published its findings, presumably in the interest of public service.

One of those profiled in the article is a candidate for the Fourth Ward council. The candidate, now 40, pleaded guilty in 1992 to felony drug and assault charges. As the candidate explains it, he joined a gang when he was 15 and got involved in selling drugs. After he was arrested, he pleaded guilty and served 90 days in a "boot camp" and a year in state prison.

He is currently a stay-at-home father and it does not appear that he has had any criminal trouble since then.

Another candidate was charged with domestic violence in 2010. However, instead of pursuing charges prosecutors dismissed the case after he went to counseling. The candidate, who is running a write-in campaign for an at-large seat, says he has a clean record.

Hopefully, when a political candidate has a criminal record, voters will consider the context of those arrests and/or convictions, as well as how long ago they occurred and how much it impacts their current lives.

Source: Lansing State Journal, "Felony drug conviction among histories of Lansing city office candidates," Lindsay VanHulle, July 22, 2013

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