LOW LEVEL CRIMINAL RECORDS: THE HARSH REALITY!
Low level criminal records can and will affect you at a deeper personal level than you may at first imagine. People can be affected in a thousand different ways by a charge, arrest or a conviction record, particularly in the Northern Virginia area, because virtually everyone in Northern Virginia is connected, in one way or another, with the Federal, State or local governments; or as a government contractor with a private company providing goods or services to the Federal, State or Local governments; or are employed in civilian jobs that require employees to not have any criminal record history at all.
If you get a criminal record in Virginia, it’s permanently recorded and kept in the NCIC database forever, as noted previously. Those with any criminal records will usually not pass or get the security clearances needed for government or government contracting jobs; and they may lose any security clearance they have. Whether the person may have a “Public Trust” , a “Secret”, “Top Secret”, or “TS/SCI Clearance”, they’re likely be downgraded in clearance or lose their security clearance entirely, which will make them unmarketable in the employment arena.
Criminal Records Ripple Effect
One gentleman I know [not a client of mine] received a Reckless Driving Summons in Virginia some time ago; but as with most people, he had no clue that this speeding Reckless Driving was actually a criminal offense. It was his first Reckless Driving and, in fact, he had no bad driving record whatsoever. So, in all naiveté, he went to court [which is mandatory for virtually all criminal charges, though he did not know this], plead guilty to the Reckless Driving charge, and only received a $100 fine [though he was facing up to one year in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, or both, and loss of his driver’s license for 6 months].
A few months later, he filled out an application to be a volunteer baseball coach at his son’s 6th grade after school baseball team; only to have the Principal of the school call him two weeks later to ask him if he knew he had a criminal record. Of course, he said he didn’t. However, the principal told him he definitely did – that he had pled guilty to a reckless driving in a Virginia Court some months before.
The Principal went on to inform him that a Reckless Driving charge in Virginia was a Class 1 Misdemeanor [the most serious misdemeanor in Virginia] and his conviction meant that he could not be around children at school, in any organized or volunteer capacity. The Principal said he could come to the school for “Parents’ Night” and PTA meetings, but he could not coach any teams or be a “Team Parent” or even help out at any Science Fairs or Field Days, or in any way be associated with the children for school activities.
Any criminal history: criminal charge; a criminal arrest; and especially a criminal conviction, can and will affect people on many different levels of their life. Teachers will likely lose their jobs, Federal, State, City or County workers will lose their jobs. Non-U.S. citizens can be deported depending upon the nature and class of the criminal charge, etc.
Criminal Records Effect Post 9/11
Since September 11, 2001, it’s a different world. Before then, most applications for just about anything only asked if you had a conviction For a Felony or for any “Crime of Moral Turpitude” [meaning a lying, cheating or stealing charge]. But now, since 9/11, virtually every application for everything [jobs, security clearances, apartment rentals, volunteering to work with children], etc., not only asks about these above-noted type of convictions, but also asks, “Have you ever been charged with, arrested for, or convicted of any criminal charge!”