When a young adult is charged with a crime, it's important to make sure that a one-time mistake does not result in a conviction. Even if the prosecutor offers deal that does not include jail time, that offer would not be a good deal if it comes with a permanent criminal record.
For most minor criminal offenses, the long-term consequences of having a conviction on your record are far more serious than the short-term consequences of a fine, jail time or probation. Unfortunately, convictions are forever.
While misdemeanor convictions are less serious than felonies, they still result in a permanent criminal record. A misdemeanor conviction could affect your child's future employment, their ability to obtain a professional license and other areas of life. For an immigrant, it could result in your deportation.
In today's world of background checks, a clear record is more important than ever. Employers, graduate schools, insurance companies, lenders and others use criminal background checks. Many job applications ask if you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.
For many misdemeanor offenses, with the exception of driving under the influence, Tennessee offers judicial diversion for first-offenders. Once you complete the diversionary period, the charge is dismissed and will not appear on your record. Unfortunately, records of your arrest will still be visible. To clear those, you need to go through a second step called an expungement. Expungement clears your arrest records, so you can you can answer "No" if you are asked if you were arrested or convicted of a crime.
To protect your future, seek legal advice from an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible if you are accused of a crime. The law firm of Hindman & Associates defends clients charged with misdemeanors and felonys in the Knoxville area.