From the moment of arrest, your future is up in the air. Given your charge, the legal penalties you will face may be clear, but it can be challenging to move forward socially. It’s possible you haven’t told anyone about your run-in with the law due to a fear of judgment, and that’s okay. But to best prepare for what’s to come, it can be helpful to fully grasp the depth of the social consequences that lie ahead—from personal connections, work, and society as a whole.
Confronting the stigma
Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding those who have committed crimes. The “criminal” label can often lead people to believe one took part in some of the worst possible acts. The shame the title inherently carries can make you the victim of snide remarks, and in some cases, loved ones will completely cut you off. Feeling like an outcast can cause a decline in mental health and draw individuals to the wrong crowd. The last thing you want to do is commit crimes again because you’ve settled on surrounding yourself with bad company. Instead, it’s crucial to be proactive in seeking support from outside sources you may have not tapped into before, like therapy or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Making new friends can also help you healthily cope. Consider practicing old or new hobbies and see what connections you can make.
Due to the paper trail of a crime, keeping or pursuing jobs can be difficult when it requires a background check. It’s also possible that your crime directly stopped your career path in its tracks, with something like a professional license or driver’s license revocation. Finding legal streams of money is essential to continue on a better path, so during the process, it can help to learn your rights and look into job fairs in your area that cater to people from all walks of life.
Controlling your life again
In the long term, other facets of life can also prove difficult after a criminal charge. Maybe you’ll want to dive in headfirst to a career change and start university courses but are afraid your admittance chances are slim due to your criminal past. Or perhaps you’ll want to change your living situation but worry about a landlord seeing something they don’t like in your application. In these scenarios, it’s important to remember that you aren’t the first person to ever go through these challenges. Rather than wallowing in the obstacles, try seeking resources and keeping your mind open.
Preparing for the immediate and often long-lasting social impacts of a criminal charge can make dealing with them easier. It’s not fair to face judgment for a one-time mistake forever, so making an earnest effort to persevere can set you up for success and help you fight the stigma society holds.