Criminal convictions can follow you for the rest of your life, felonies as well as misdemeanors. For an in depth discussion of these issue I encourage you to read the article "Unforgiven: How millions of Americans are Branded by their Past." in the Oct. 28 to Nov. 3,2010 issue of the Pacfic Northwest Inlander. A felony conviction results in losing certain rights including the right to vote and the right to possess firearms. Even current misdemeanor convictions involving "domestic violence" will result in you losing your right to own and possess firearms. If the felony conviction is for a "sex offense" you will be required to register as a "sex offender" in your county of residence. Almost any type of criminal conviction can be a stumbling block when trying to obtain employment since many employers now conduct criminal history background checks prior to accepting persons for employment.
If you are suspected of any criminal offense you should immediately call a lawyer. Under no circumstances should you make any statements to law enforcement prior to having a lawyer present. Even people who feel they are innocent and have nothing to hide should sitll obtain the services of counsel. Remember, if law enforcement feels that a crime has been committed it is their job to find the perpetrator and arrest and prosecute him or her. Law enforcment officers write their reports with such a view in mind and they often misconstrue or misinterpret what you have told them. Trying to explain this later on can be difficult and will look like you are just trying to save yourself from a conviction. Do not think that you smarter than law enforcement since they do this for a living and you do not.
A lawyer can also help you to determine what evidence and witnesses are favorable to your version of the facts and help you to obtain this evidence. A lawyer can also tell you if evidence has been illegally obtained from you and whether it can be suppressed (not considered) by the judge or jury. Some criminal cases can be completely dismissed if their is a suppression of key evidence, and if not dismissed, plea bargained down to an acceptable charge or level.