America is the land of the free, but that can all change in an instant if you get convicted of a serious criminal offense. If you plead guilty and throw yourself on the mercy of the court, a mistake or a misunderstanding could mean you spend time in prison and affect your opportunities for the rest of your life.
Pushing back against a charge is necessary if you don’t want it to have permanent consequences for your freedom. Planning a criminal defense strategy after your arrest is crucial to helping protect your freedom as you navigate the criminal justice system.
A conviction can literally cost your freedom
The more serious the charges that the state brings against you are, the more likely it is that you will face jail time. A criminal conviction can cost you your freedom by requiring that you serve time in jail, prison or even rehabilitation facilities.
You will have no control over your schedule in daily life and will instead be subject to the structure and rules of the facility where you serve your sentence. You may also face abuse or mistreatment by other inmates during a period of incarceration.
Other consequences severely limit your freedoms
Simply avoiding jail time doesn’t mean that your conviction won’t affect your freedom. Probation is a common tool used instead of incarceration for some people.
While on probation, you will be subject to limitations on your activities and socialization. From not being able to spend time with anyone else convicted of a crime to restrictions on being around alcohol, you may find that probation limits your lifestyle almost as much as incarceration would.
Criminal records can affect your freedom in other ways, too
Those convicted of certain offenses, including even misdemeanor domestic violence charges, lose their right to lawfully possess firearms. Even if they already own guns, they could face additional charges if they keep their firearms after a conviction.
Additionally, having a criminal record inhibits your freedom because it will limit the jobs you can have, the houses you can live in and the education you can obtain. When you consider everything you could potentially lose even in a best-case scenario after a conviction or guilty plea, defending yourself makes a lot of sense, especially if you value your freedom.