If you have a criminal conviction on your record, you may be leery about your interactions with society. This could be especially true if you were convicted of a felony and served prison time. Although repairing your reputation can be difficult, there are still ways to put your criminal past behind you and gain the trust of people in your community. Here are a few of the best ways to move on with your life following a criminal conviction.
Volunteer Your Time
Devoting some of your time to a charitable cause will help you earn the respect of many people in your community. Animal charities, food banks and donation drives are always looking for volunteers. Serving as a volunteer for a substance abuse and re-entry facility or a domestic violence center is another great way to give back to society. You can also serve as a mentor to young people who are at risk of going down a criminal path.
Seal Your Criminal Record
There is a possibility that you could have your criminal record sealed and removed from public view under certain circumstances. This is definitely an advisable option if you don’t want any prospective employers to see your criminal charges, which might make it more difficult for you to find a job. You will likely have to go through a waiting period of five to ten years following your conviction before you can have your record sealed. If your crime occurred in Canada, you can have your record kept confidential with a Canadian Pardon, and some companies can help you apply for this and fill out your pardon application.
In some instances, it is best to be honest about your criminal past. Many people will appreciate your candidness and might be more willing to forgive you if you are open about any prior criminal activities. People will also be more likely to look at you as an example of someone who was able to move on from a criminal past and make positive life changes.
Ask for Help
You should never be afraid to ask for help when it comes to distancing yourself from criminal actions. Counseling and psychiatry can work wonders and will allow you to get to the root of any problems that spawn unhealthy behaviors. If substance abuse contributed to your wrongdoings, you should consider entering a rehab facility or attending 12-step meetings. Learning how to overcome these issues will help you establish a new lifestyle.
Apologize to Any Victims
If possible, you should consider meeting with any victims of your crime so that you can offer a sincere apology face to face. This is a feasible option if the victims have not filed any restraining orders against you or if the court has not forbidden you to have any contact. When you meet with a victim, be prepared to listen to details about the pain you caused and show consideration for his or her feelings. A victim might not be so willing to forgive you and will have harsh words for you, but at least you can feel good about yourself in knowing that you made the effort.
Getting a new start in a particular community is not always possible in some situations. If your reputation has been damaged beyond repair, you should consider moving to a different location to build a new life. You may not have to move far away from your city or town to get the new start that you want. Just remember to check in with any probation or parole officers that you have to answer to so that you can avoid trouble with the law.
A criminal charge can impact your life in many ways, but you can lessen some of the effects and put your troubles behind you by taking the right steps. Making the right changes can help you build a bright future.