Serious criminal accusations can impact anyone's career in a negative manner. You could be a pizza delivery driver and lose your job because you wind up facing drug charges and that violates the company behavior policy. It may be harder for you to get a second job with something like that on your record.
However, the ramifications for those in high-visibility careers are often far worse. The public remembers. When someone gets accused, it instantly makes headlines. People still bring it up years later. It may make someone essentially unemployable. A conviction can end some careers entirely.
Examples of high-visibility careers
Every line of work has a different level of visibility to the public, but it's usually very low. Even if you work for a major corporation like Google, BMW or UPS, odds are that no one outside of your immediate family and friends even knows what you do for a living.
For some, though, visibility is a crucial part of the equation. Examples include actors, singers, athletes, politicians and other entertainers.
For these individuals, their name becomes a brand. A football team may worry about hiring a running back with a history of domestic violence, for instance, because they worry about the reaction from the fans. A politician with a conviction on their record may find it impossible to build up a large enough supporter base to actually run for office.
Athlete arrest rates
Wondering how common these types of issues are? Some researchers have studied various professional sports and looked at the number of arrests per 100,000 people in the league. This evens things out so that you can compare from one sport to another. Here are the results:
- National Football League: 2,466
- National Basketball Association: 2,157
- Major League Baseball: 553
- National Hockey League: 175
It is also interesting to note that the league with the most arrests (the NFL) is also the most popular of the big four. This is the league where the players have the most visibility and their actions can have the biggest ramification for their careers, and they also get arrested the most.
This is just one example, but it really shows how anyone in an important, high-paying career needs to carefully consider all of their legal options if they get arrested. Could those charges cost you your job? Could they make it impossible to continue your career?
Clearly, the court case is about more than just fines and jail time. It is about your future. If a conviction would end a promising career, regardless of the field, the true cost of that conviction could be far higher than it appears.