Criminal charges affect different demographics in unique ways. Those working unskilled jobs for low wages might have few options beyond a plea bargain because they can’t afford their own attorney, for example.

Compared with that, successful professionals have some advantages because they have the resources and community reputation that allow them to connect with good representation and to present themselves positively to the court during their defense.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to being a professional when you face criminal charges, and that drawback involves the impact of those charges on your professional licensing.

You can face licensing consequences in addition to criminal ones

To some people, pleading guilty after criminal charges, especially to offenses that don’t have a victim, like a standard impaired driving charge, might seem like the best approach. They can quickly get back to work and don’t have to deal with the stress of a trial.

However, a conviction, even one that results because of a plea bargain, will undoubtedly impact your career trajectory. Not only could potential clients or your current co-workers have a different opinion of you after a conviction, but you could lose your professional license.

The state of California licenses professionals ranging from physicians and teachers to contractors and accountants. If the state licensing board that oversees your industry discovers the issue because of a routine check when you renew your license or because someone reports the issue to them, you could face a disciplinary hearing and possibly the loss of your professional license.

Don’t forget that you have the right to defend yourself

One of your most basic rights as a citizen facing criminal charges is the right to defend yourself or to retain an attorney to defend you in court. You also have the right as a professional subject to board review to defend yourself during any licensing related hearings.

Working to defeat your criminal charge can often make it easier to defend your professional license, but even those with a conviction or a guilty plea may be able to retain their professional licensing with the right approach. Getting help sooner rather than later when you know that your job could be at stake because of a criminal charge will give you more time to plan to protect your profession.