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Consequences of a conviction can last long after official sentence

Being convicted of a crime can mean jail or prison time, fines and other consequences. Among these are subtler, societal penalties that may linger the rest of the defendant’s life, long after he or she has paid his or her legal debt.

First, there is getting arrested. Though an arrest is not the same thing as an indictment, let alone a conviction, being placed under arrest can be highly embarrassing for a suspect and his or her family. Depending on the circumstances, you may lose your job. Friends and relatives may turn away.

Certain convictions include in their sentences the suspension of your driver’s license. Besides the inconvenience of not being able to driver yourself around, not having a license could cost you your job, if it requires the ability to drive legally.

Then, when you look for a new job, you will likely have to disclose your criminal record on the application. This can make it very difficult to get hired, find a new apartment, or apply for a loan.

Finally, there are social consequences. Some crimes carry a terrible stigma. It could be impossible for a person with certain crimes on their record to be a part of the community, for example by attending their children’s school activities.

Some would argue that these consequences are deserved. But when a person is wrongly accused, he or she should not have to face official or unofficial penalties for something he or she did not do.

No matter what evidence the prosecution has, everyone is legally entitled to a defense attorney.

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