How Will My Criminal History Affect My Job Search?

A person’s criminal history seems to punish them long after they’ve paid the price for their crimes. After probation is done and the fines have been paid, the person is still paying the price for their criminal history. Employers are hesitant to hire someone with a felony, and job applications and school records are always wanting to know what you’ve been convicted of.

Your criminal history follows you everywhere. It is the lingering punishment that stays with you long after probation ends. If you have questions about expungement, we can help with that. This article will not go into that. Instead, we will discuss what you can and can’t say on job applications.

Conviction vs. Charge on Criminal History

There is a difference between a conviction and a charge on your criminal history. A charge is what happens before a trial or a plea deal happens. You’re not guilty of doing anything yet if you’ve only been charged. A conviction, on the other hand, is a stamp of guilt. It means that you have either been found guilty or have plead guilty.

On a job application, if it is asking you about whether you have been convicted of a crime, you do not need to state any charges. Until you are proven (or plead) guilty, you are not guilty of any crime.

Misdemeanors and Felonies vs. Infractions

An infraction is less than a misdemeanor in terms of severity. It typically includes traffic offenses, insurance issues, licensing problems, and other minor issues. Sometimes it can include more serious offenses, depending on what happened in your case. Almost no employer cares about your infractions.

But what about if they are asking about misdemeanors? Sometimes you get a traffic ticket that is charged as a misdemeanor. Do you need to report that on a job application? Some applications exclude minor traffic offenses when they ask about misdemeanors. In that case, whether you tell them about your speeding ticket is up to you.

You certainly don’t need to tell them about an infraction when they don’t ask about them.

Expunging Your Criminal History

In some cases, the only real way to deal with your criminal history is to expunge the convictions (or charges) from your record. The time frame for when you can be eligble to expunge starts after your probation, and can be anywhere from a week to several years. Some charges are not eligible for expungement. If you have questions about whether you can get an expungement, give us a call.

An article on expungement is coming soon.

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