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How minor charges affect your future, and what to do now

Many people make mistakes when they are young. If you are lucky, your mistakes are not the sort that follow you through the years. Unfortunately, even one moment of impulsivity can create legal problems that come back to haunt you if you do not deal with them correctly now. Learn how minor charges can affect your future and what to do about it.

Minor charges can cause major trouble

Young people often face charges of misdemeanor drug possession, underage alcohol possession, property destruction and motor vehicle offenses. You may not think these are serious charges, especially if all you have to do is pay a fine. However, each of these offenses creates a permanent criminal record that can be hard to get rid of due to the strict limits of Virginia expungement laws. Your record can cause you problems when pursuing your career of choice, entering graduate studies, getting a professional license and obtaining housing.

Speak with your lawyer right away

Retaining an experienced defense firm can raise your chances of a positive outcome. Your lawyers can inform you of the potential consequences of the charges you face and the best strategies to deal with them.

Avoid pleading guilty

You may feel tempted to agree to whatever law enforcement officers present you with. Pleading guilty generally counts the same as a conviction, so while you save yourself the trouble of a trial, you still have a criminal conviction record.

Consider possible alternatives

In some first offense misdemeanor cases, you may have the option of a deferred disposition. This means you agree to have the judge find you guilty of the original or reduced charges. You then enter a probationary period, which may have various conditions depending on your specific case. Once this period ends and you complete your obligations, the case is dismissed. This means you do not have a conviction record, although your arrest record will still exist. Deferred disposition can be an excellent option for some defendants but not others. Be sure to consult your legal firm before you agree to any deal.

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