One of the characteristics common among young people here in Tennessee and across the country is experiencing the pleasant naiveté of not understanding how every action taken in life builds upon each other. Children and young adults often fail to see how their actions today will impact their opportunities tomorrow, and for the unfortunate few who partake in and are convicted of violent crimes, they may fail to realize that they are setting themselves up for struggles long after their prison sentences end.

A new report by the Uniform Law Commission indicates that people convicted of felonies and violent crimes never really become full members of society after their penalties are fulfilled. For example, individuals with felony convictions on their criminal records are often overlooked for employment opportunities. Some government programs are not available to convicted felons, meaning that individuals who fulfill their sentences emerge from prison without all of the rights that they had when they went in, and will not be able to regain those rights.

These factors, along with a disproportionate number of African American convicts failing to successfully reenter their communities when compared to convicts of other racial backgrounds, suggest that convictions on felony and violent crime charges never really go away. While some convicts may find support from their friends, families and others within their communities, others may find little help when trying to get back on their feet.

One of the most effective ways to avoid a post-conviction life of struggles is to comprehensively prepare for a criminal trial. A cogent criminal defense strategy can be the difference between a criminal conviction that will affect the rest of a person’s life or a not guilty verdict that sets the person free.

Source: WDEF 12 News, “Shadow of a felony conviction: collateral consequence,” Erik Avanier, June 4, 2013