handcuffs and gavelThis is the next article in my series on the handling of first offenses in Peoria and other Illinois areas. My last article discussed the importance of retaining an attorney for your first offense. It is important to understand that any interaction with the criminal justice system can have a lasting effect on your life. Unfortunately, many make the mistake of not taking the matter seriously until they realize, in fact, the gravity of the matter. I will be expanding upon that discussion in this article by explaining the possible consequences of a conviction. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

An Illinois criminal conviction can make it difficult to find employment and/or housing

Being convicted in Illinois, of either a felony or a misdemeanor, means that one will have a permanent criminal record. This record will appear in background checks which are frequently run by both employers and leasing managers. Many employers will not hire someone with a criminal record. This can be out of a desire of the employer to protect themselves from potential liability as well as a belief that the conviction reflects poorly on what type of employee the applicant will be. Likewise, leasing managers have concerns about liability and the risk of gaining a bad tenant. Individuals with a conviction feel that they can often “explain” the situation to the employer or leasing manager. The truth of the matter, however, is that such entities often have strict rules in place regarding how they handle convictions, and any “explanation” will typically fall on deaf ears. In other words, one can expect that a conviction will make it highly difficult for them to find employment or housing.

The difficulty a defendant will have in securing employment or housing will increase in proportion to the severity of the conviction. Some leasing companies or business owners may be willing to look past non-violent misdemeanor convictions for example. They may be less willing to entertain an applicant, however, if the conviction is for a crime of violence. If one has been convicted of a felony then many will simply reject an applicant. While whether to hire, or lease to, a felon is up to the individual employer or landlord, it is generally understood that difficulty will increase with the severity of a conviction.

A conviction can result in future charges carrying more severe penalties

It must also be understood that an initial conviction will often mean that future offenses will carry stiffer penalties than they would otherwise. This is for two reasons. First, many crimes carry an increased statutory penalty for second offenses. Second, it must be remembered that sentencing is, to a large extent, within the discretion of a judge. The more severe a defendant’s criminal record then the more likely a judge will be to impose a more serious penalty. This means that a first offense which one did not take seriously can result in a judge having no patience when that individual is charged with a subsequent crime. How the judge will rule is always going to depend on the specific facts of a case, and it must be remembered that prior convictions are not a good thing at the time of sentencing.

If you or a family member have been arrested for a first offense then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria, Illinois criminal defense lawyer. I am a former prosecutor who is familiar with the workings of our court system and I understand that this is a serious time in your life. My office will give your case the attention it deserves and we believe that everyone is entitled to a vigorous defense. Contact us online or by telephone today to speak with an attorney. My office also represents clients in Bloomington, Decatur, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. We also serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford.