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Psychological Effects of a Criminal Conviction


If you are facing criminal charges, it may be easy not to see the importance of retaining a criminal defense attorney. While you have the right to represent yourself in your criminal case, it is best to get a defense attorney. Self-representation is a bad idea because you don’t have the training and experience of a criminal defense attorney. If you represent yourself in your criminal case, you increase your chances of a conviction. Unfortunately, a criminal conviction can cost you in many ways. You may be sent to jail, asked to pay hefty fines, and face other serious criminal consequences. You may also face collateral consequences because of your criminal conviction record, such as difficulties securing employment and getting housing. Unfortunately, even if you are wrongfully convicted, you risk experiencing these consequences.

In addition to the consequences mentioned above, you can suffer adverse psychological effects if convicted. Even if you spend only a short time in jail, you may still suffer negative psychological effects. Because of this, it is best that you retain a criminal defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges. An attorney can help you develop a strong defense strategy that can help prevent a conviction.

What Psychological Effects Can You Suffer Because of a Criminal Conviction?

People suffer different adverse psychological effects after being convicted of a crime. No two people are the same. How a criminal conviction psychologically impacts another person convicted of the same crime is not the way you will be affected. That said, the following are some of the common psychological effects of a criminal conviction;

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that arises because of a terrifying event. Prison can be scary, and many frightening things happen in prison. If you are convicted of a crime, you may develop PTSD, which may manifest in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, sudden outbursts of anger, and lack of emotions, among others. Having PTSD can disrupt your entire life. It can disrupt your relationships, job, health, and even your ability to enjoy daily activities.

Emotional Distancing

After your jail term ends, you may find it hard to form personal connections because, in prison, inmates usually hide their emotions. Often, prisoners do not show their true feelings to avoid being considered weak.


If you are convicted and sent to jail, you may become hyper-vigilant, and this behavior can continue after you are released from prison. Hyper-vigilance is when you are increasingly alert or extremely sensitive to your surroundings. However, often, the things that hyper-vigilant people fear are not real. Unfortunately, this behavior can lead to you living in isolation.

Guilt and Shame

Finally, guilt and shame may become part of your everyday feelings if convicted. And unfortunately, depending on how you react to your feelings of shame, you may find yourself in more trouble. If, for example, you react defensively, such as by blaming others, you could commit another crime and be convicted again.

Contact an NYC Criminal Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, our skilled and dedicated NYC criminal attorney, Mark I. Cohen, can work with you to develop a strong defense strategy that can increase your chances of avoiding a conviction.



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"... Mr. Cohen's effort... in everything he has done before the Court, is A-Plus... [R]ecently, in another case... [before me], the result he achieved for his client... was quite impressive." Honorable Kenneth M. Karas, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.


"So I have very sophisticated counsel here and, Mr. Cohen, [your client] is very fortunate in having you as his attorney, and I hope he appreciates that." – Quote from the Honorable Denise L. Cote, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.


"As Mark Cohen, a defense lawyer who has tried cases throughout the city and was a prosecutor in the Bronx, pointed out, there is a saying among defense lawyers in New York." – As provided in the New York Times City Room Blog.

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