Society (potential employers) will all check your background prior to allowing you to pass on that path of your life that brought you to them. This includes employers, military, and literally everyone in your future involving employment, finance, life insurance, car insurance, credit report, house and vehicle purchases; schools, both primary and college and professional schools. These background checks may be by both law enforcement and private sector data bases. Arrest/ Conviction records are absolute career ending events.
Most folks do not know that once you are arrested it is just like posting something on Facebook©. One, like Facebook, this arrest/conviction information goes everywhere; and two, it can last forever. There are two separate sets of Data Bases that records and stores arrest/conviction records 1) Law Enforcement, and 2) Private Sector Date Bases. The “Government” data bases discussed here are: 1) the Local Law Enforcement (City, County, State) who’s officers arrested you; 2) the state agency which collects arrest information, from local law enforcement and ours is called: “The Mississippi Criminal Information Center”. All states have such a central criminal information centers who then transmits this arrest information to 3) The National Criminal Information Center, which is a part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These organizations act as depositories of arrest information, in the form of “Rap” sheets. Should you also be convicted, that conviction information will also be added to the arrest information already on file. This arrest/conviction information stays in your file forever, unless and until a court order allows removal.
In addition, some three (3) thousand private data bases around the world will also collect; store; and for a fee, publish, this arrest and conviction information. New private sector data base are being created daily. Anyone with a computer or a cell phone can access this information with a small credit card payment. It is these private sector data bases that most potential employers, outside of government, turn to for back-ground searches. Almost all pre-employment applications require you to sign documents allowing background searches to divulge this information. Prospective employers hire applicants, in part, based upon background searches. These employment application forms usually question the prospective employee on: 1) Have you ever been arrest for a crime; 2) Have you ever pled guilty to, or were you found guilty of a crime by a court or jury; 3) Have you ever been granted a deferred sentence after having pled guilty; and 4) Any other wording which will have placed you in the criminal justice process at any time in your life. The presence of an arrest/conviction record disqualifies most job applicants. The only sure records cleaning remedy for having been arrested for a crime is to be found NOT GUILTY and have your records EXPUNGED. Any arrest or conviction record of a crime/ conviction will always affect the rest of your life.
Once you are arrested for a crime, and find yourself in the criminal justice process, your case will proceed through the criminal justice system and prior to trial the prosecution will offer a “Plea Deal.” This “Plea Deal” will include pleading guilty to a crime, paying a fine, and suspended time or days in jail. Once the “plea deal” is communicated to you and your attorney your question will be, “What Should I do?” At that point you have the expectation that your attorney: 1) Is well versed in the law and facts of your case; 2) Has fully investigated all of your facts and circumstances; 3) Has fully informed you of your possible defenses; 3) Has your own investigation report of your case; and 4) Can answer your questions, which allow you to make informed decisions about how your case should proceed.
Your choices then become two. Considering the evidence against you, your own investigation, witnesses, and all the other evidence in this criminal charge you can 1) Take the plea deal or 2) Do you proceed to trial because the prosecution cannot prove their case? On one hand, most folks faced with trial will just pay a fine if no jail time is imposed to a variety of reasons: 1) Do not want to take off work; 2) Do not want to hire an attorney; 3) Embarrassed about the charges; 4) Do not believe the charge/conviction will hurt them in the long run; 5) Do not believe they are guilty but the charge/conviction is just not important; and many others.
All criminal charges are important and pleas/ trials deserve you highest attention. Clean records mean everything in today’s job market. A record marked with arrest/ convictions will severely limit your educational opportunities and job advancements. With massive overseas job transfers any employment opportunity is a welcome one. Most importantly, your version of the events leading to your criminal charge will mean very little in the face of your guilty plea. Society cares little for your proclamation, after a guilty plea saying, “I could have won my case,” and adheres to the general rule “THE ONLY REASON YOU PLED GUILTY IS BECAUSE YOU COMMITTED THE CRIME.” Or, “YOU PLEAD GUILTY BECAUSE YOU ARE IN FACT GUILTY.”
Once you find yourself in the criminal justice process, and before you admit guilt: 1) Consult a GOOD criminal defense attorney; 2) Meet with that attorney, and tell him everything; 3) Hire the attorney you have found by: A) word of mouth; B) checking national attorney rating sites like AVVO.com, superlawyers, martindale.com; C) checking with your local bar association; D) searching for the attorney on Linkedin.com, and once you found them, have read the attorneys website for background information. All good criminal defense attorneys offer free initial consultations, and good criminal defense attorney are expensive, and for a reason, “They are worth it!”
The “Guilty Plea Trap” is, once you plead guilty to a crime you cannot take it back, you cannot have a trial, you cannot appeal your guilty plea and in most cases, a guilty plea is forever.