Being accused of a crime can have an immediate impact on your life. Whether you did what you are charged with or not, you need to take steps to defend yourself. One of the ways that being charged with a crime can affect you is that it can cause financial consequences. Even if you are found “not guilty”, you can still end up having to spend a lot of money, perhaps miss work, and possibly have your career affected too. Before you do anything you might regret, or if you’ve already been accused of wrongdoing and you don’t think it’s a big deal, it’s important to understand the potential financial consequences both now and in the future.
Immediate Consequences: Raising Bail
If you are arrested, and bail is set as a condition of your release, it means having to come up with the money to get yourself out. This task often ends up falling to a family member or friend, but you could still end up having to pay. When bail is set, the condition is that after paying the money, you can get it back if you meet all the requirements, such as turning up for court dates. Only a portion of the money is needed, often around 10%, and a bail bond company can provide the rest. However, even finding the percentage of the total amount can be difficult.
The Cost of Defense
When charged and facing a trial, some people are tempted to defend themselves. It might seem to make sense, especially if the cost of hiring a lawyer doesn’t seem within reach. However, hiring a lawyer is one thing you can’t afford not to do. You need expert legal representation if you want the best chance of being found innocent or getting a good deal. If you, go to wklaw.com you can read about how a criminal defense lawyer can help you. Some people are able to access legal assistance if they meet certain income requirements, but not everyone has that option available. Finding the funds to hire a lawyer can sometimes be tough, but it’s essential if you need to defend yourself in court.
Potential for Fines
Sometimes, sentencing for a crime might include the instruction to pay a fine or perhaps pay compensation to a victim. Some fines might not be huge amounts, but others could be thousands of dollars or even more. If you’re working, you might have your wages garnished or you could even have assets seized or a lien put on your property. Most people end up having to pay some sort of fine during their lives, usually from something like a parking ticket, but more serious fines could impact your finances for a long time. You could find yourself having to pay off a fine for months or years.
If you commit a crime, there’s also the potential for the victim to sue you for damages. This could take place even if you’re not found guilty in a criminal court, as the burden of proof could be lower in a civil court. A victim suing for damages could be asking you to pay for their medical costs, which might include long-term care or psychological treatment, or they might be asking you to pay for damages to their property. This could mean you end up having to pay a lot of money, which could be paid by an insurance policy in some cases or might have to come directly from you.
Recovering Financially After Jail
Being out of work for any reason can make it difficult to get back into employment. Being out of work because you were incarcerated can make it even more difficult to get back on your feet. You might need to find somewhere new to live and look for a new job, and perhaps you don’t have a lot of money in the bank or anyone who can support you financially either. If you’re not particularly financially healthy before spending time in jail, you’re more likely to struggle after too. Having to rebuild your life and your finances after having spent time away from the outside world is tough for anyone.
Your Work Future
If you are convicted of a crime, having a criminal record can have long-term effects on your career. Many employers will perform background checks and are reluctant to hire anyone with any type of criminal record. Other crimes could bar you from working in certain professions altogether. For example, if you are convicted of a financial crime, you would be lucky ever to find employment in the financial industry in any capacity. Having a criminal record can make it difficult to get a job of any kind, and could limit your prospects when it comes to building a career.
The way you are viewed could also change if you are accused of committing a crime, even if you are found to be innocent. Sometimes, being charged with or suspected of a crime can stick with you for a long time, especially when it comes to certain types of crimes. In the age of the internet, it’s even easier for your past to follow you around. Simply searching for your name could bring up news articles or other resources. This can affect your career, as well as possible other areas of your life that could have an impact on your finances.
Can a Criminal Record Affect Welfare Benefits?
Having a criminal record could also affect your eligibility for certain types of federal assistance or welfare benefits. In some states, felons are unable to access food stamps, while in others, a criminal conviction could mean you can’t access other types of welfare for certain periods or even indefinitely. Some people might think that this doesn’t matter and that they won’t ever need to use these programs. However, you never know where life could take you, and anyone can find themselves needing to ask for help. If you’re already struggling financially, being barred from accessing vital help makes things even tougher.
Being accused of committing a crime, even if you’re not found guilty, could affect your finances for years to come. If you are charged, you need to make sure you take action right away.