The challenges that those with criminal records face aren’t always a priority, but these people are often misunderstood as unseen members of society. More people than many realize have criminal or felony records, which affect their lives forever.
Individuals facing these challenges need to be able to find the information that they need to be able to continue living their lives. Rebuilding after an arrest or serving time in prison isn’t easy, but it is possible.
If you or a loved one has a felony or criminal record, there are some important considerations to be aware of as you move forward in life. Here are some ways to think about and navigate the next few months and years as you build up a stronger, healthier life.
#1: Sentence Type and Time Matters
As you plan to reenter society or consider what your options are now, it’s essential to reflect on what your charges were and how the type of charges will affect your options. Every crime, from misdemeanors to felonies, has a specific sentencing type and time. This varies widely, and the type of sentencing has different effects.
For example, a manufacturing drug charge sentence is a felony in most states, especially if the amount manufactured is over one gram. However, your specific state may have a different regulation in place.
Felonies with a convicted drug charge are often restricted from applying for certain types of jobs. In Tennessee, felons with this type of conviction may not be allowed to vote or have gun rights for a certain period of time.
By being aware of what type of charge you have on your record and how that is perceived in your state, you can ensure that you can research and prepare yourself for the future more clearly.
Another thing to think about is making sure that you are insured. Most insurance companies have clauses on insurance policies that are set to immediately expire whenever you are convicted of a crime. This means that you will need to reinstate your health insurance, life insurance, and any other insurance policies you had in place.
This can be an overwhelming process, and at times, it can get complicated as well. Insurance rates on some plans, such as life insurance for felons, are often higher for felons than for non-felons.
Do your research on what types of insurance you need and how you can get the best rates. If you are involved in any reentry communities, ask around to see if anyone knows which companies are the most forgiving towards those working to rebuild their place in our society.
#3: Finding Work
Across the country, states have different laws about how employers can or cannot use the contents of your criminal record when you apply for a job. In Tennessee, however, there are no specific laws. This means that only federal laws will apply.
Federal laws, including Title VII and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, require that employers consider whether or not a criminal record has an actual effect on the nature of the job in question. This means that employers should not blanket deny your application simply because of your record.
Still, that doesn’t always mean that finding work will be easier. In some cases, you can make finding a job easier with a great CV. Explicitly addressing your record and how you have turned things around can be an excellent approach for some individuals seeking employment.
#4: Regaining Licenses and More
Driver’s licenses, gun licenses, and other types of documentation may have new limitations if you have a criminal or felony record in Tennessee and other states. Felons in Tennessee, for example, are no longer able to own a gun in many cases, even if they were not convicted of a violent crime.
You will need to start applying for licenses that were suspended or removed when you were sentenced, which can take some time. In some cases, you might have to wait a long time before you can start up hobbies that rely on those licenses. Finding other ways to enjoy your pursuits in life might become necessary.
Work with each institution to find out what process you need to go through to regain your licenses, and you’ll be back to it when it is appropriate.
Don’t Let The Repercussions Ruin Your Life
Often, it can feel like the repercussions of a criminal record end your life. Even though it is true that this record will affect your life for a very long time, that doesn’t mean that your life is over. Your debt to society has been paid, and you will be able to find your way to a better point over time.
It may even be possible to have your record expunged. Those with nonviolent convictions or arrests may be able to have them expunged. Find out if you are eligible for expungement in Tennessee today. Though this will not forgive the crime, it will make your record appear more positively to landlords, insurance providers, and other institutions.