The Importance of a Good Criminal Record

Criminal history checks are becoming more common with each passing year, increasing the importance of maintaining a good criminal record.

A history of criminal convictions can have a negative impact upon many aspects of a person’s life.  Sometimes these negative effects are the result of action taken by a governmental agency, and other times it is a private business taking that action.  With the rise of the internet and online court records, just about every individual can now look up a person’s criminal history, leading to more problems than ever for those with criminal convictions.


Many employers rely upon background checks before offering employment, and others will terminate employment for employees who are convicted of crimes after being hired.  Some of that is not surprising, as few employers wish to employ a person who lost their last job because they stole from a cash register.  Other employers will refuse to hire based upon a drug possession conviction, believing that the employee would be unreliable


Criminal convictions can serious negative effects upon a person’s ability to enroll in college, as college admissions boards often consider criminal history.  Many schools also prohibit students from living on-campus if they have certain convictions (e.g. sexual assault or sexual abuse).  Federal student aid is also denied to many people who have a drug conviction, preventing them from receiving the money needed to go to school.


Some criminal convictions that require sex offender registration will prevent a person from living in a house or apartment that is near a school, daycare, etc.  That restriction can mean that a huge percentage of the houses in an area are no longer available to a person.  Restrictions imposed by DCFS in Illinois and DHS in Iowa can also prevent a person from living in a home with children when they have certain convictions for child abuse or endangerment.  Finally, background checks run by apartments and landlords can exclude people whose criminal history is not satisfactory.

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Gun rights

Being convicted of a felony, a domestic violence misdemeanor, or certain other offenses can disqualify a person from owning a gun.  For many people, that means they are unable to engage in hunting or target practice that had been a big part of their life, not to mention the inability to have a gun for self defense.


Criminal convictions such as those that have a court Order for restitution payment can have a negative impact upon a person’s credit score, as such orders are treated as money judgments by the credit reporting agencies.

Car insurance

Convictions for OWI in Iowa or DUI in Illinois, as well as traffic tickets, can greatly increase a person’s insurance rates.  Taken to an extreme, such convictions can make a person unable to obtain car insurance at all.

Improving a person’s criminal record

It is sometimes possible to improve a person’s criminal record by sealing or expunging old convictions, or through executive clemency (a pardon).  Our firm has represented clients in Iowa and Illinois in cases to seal and expunge convictions, as well as cases seeking a pardon.