Criminal activities can have long-lasting consequences. If you have been convicted of a criminal offense you pay your debt to society by serving out the time of your conviction. However, even after you have served your sentence of a conviction, your criminal record can continue to impact your life in many areas, especially as it relates to employment opportunities.
Criminal background checks
A background check is used to investigate an individual’s personal, professional, and legal or criminal histories. A variety of people and businesses are known to use background checks to screen potential employees, applicants, and tenants. A potential employer could use a background check to ensure that a job applicant was truthful in the information they provided as to whether or not they had a criminal history.
It is not uncommon for a potential employer to run a criminal background check if you apply for a position at their company. In fact, any employer can conduct a criminal record check before or after hiring an employee. While not all employers elect to run a background check, all employers have the right to. It is important to understand that if an employer chooses not to run a background check, or if they do not ask you whether or not you have a criminal record, you are under no obligation to disclose that information about your criminal history.
What information appears on a criminal background check?
A background check can help your employer become informed of your criminal history, as well as many other aspects of your life, which may include:
- Basic information that would establish your identity, such as: name, age, date of birth, and driver’s license number
- Felonies and misdemeanors that appear on your record
- Residence history
- Current and past arrests
- Federal and state tax liens and/or bankruptcies
- Description of distinguishing body markings, including: tattoos, scars, and birthmarks
- List of known relatives
- Property ownership
- Marriages and divorces
As you can see, running a criminal background check can provide a wealth of information to a potential employer which could have a negative impact on your ability to qualify for employment. If you are unsure about what information would appear on a background check you should consider running a background check on yourself first before applying for employment.
Can I be denied employment due to a criminal record?
Yes. A private employer can deny you employment, or if you are currently employed can fire you, if you have a criminal record. Employers have various reasons for why they may determine not to hire an individual with a criminal record. Some employers consider it a matter of workplace safety and/or security to avoid those with criminal records. Employers may believe that hiring a previously convicted individual may decrease safety in their working environment or you may not pass certain security requirements if you have a criminal record.
Some employers may instead prefer to avoid hiring an individual with a criminal record due to enforcement of employment laws. For example, in order to avoid negligent recruitment charges a company may choose to avoid hiring someone with a criminal record.
Can I still obtain employment with a criminal record?
While having a criminal record can make it harder to obtain employment, it certainly is not impossible. If you are applying for employment knowing that you have a criminal record you may consider being up front with your potential employer about your criminal background before they discover the information through conducting a background check. Being honest up front may help demonstrate that you have acknowledged the mistakes you have made and may assist in building trust with a potential employer.
Depending on the circumstances of your conviction it may also be possible to seek an expungement for your criminal charges. Expungement is the process of sealing arrest and conviction records. Most state laws provide that once an arrest or conviction has been expunged it no longer needs to be disclosed, including to potential employers or landlords. This means that if you were asked during a job interview if you have ever been convicted of a criminal offense, you can honestly answer “no”. Consulting with a criminal law attorney can help you learn more about this option.
If you have been convicted of a criminal offense that is affecting your ability to obtain employment it may be in your best interest to speak to a criminal defense attorney about the options that may be available to you. If you would like to confidentially discuss the details of your case please call us at (559) 222-5800. In most instances an appointment can be scheduled for the same day.