How Public Criminal Convictions Affect Your Hiring Decisions

Whether an employer or a potential employer, you should know how public criminal records can affect your hiring decisions. You may not realize this, but all criminal convictions, including pardons, expungements, and summary judgments, are public records. These records can affect the types of jobs you apply for, your ability to get specific licenses, and how the community perceives you.

Summary Criminal History

Generally speaking, a summary criminal history is a record that lists details of arrests, charges, sentences, and final dispositions. Employers use this information in various ways, such as screening job applicants. It’s also used by public officers, such as police and judges, who must access this information to perform their official duties.

The Department of Justice maintains a list of authorized agencies to request criminal history information. The FBI, Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania State Police, and Pennsylvania State Courts are some agencies that collect and maintain criminal records. Often, these records are not easily accessible to the public.

When an individual requests a criminal history summary, the Department of Justice will provide the individual with a copy. The proposal will require the individual to include their full name, date of birth, and return mailing address. The individual will be asked to pay a processing fee of $25.

A summary criminal history may also be referred to as a “rap sheet” or “background check.” Police and other law enforcement agencies use this type of information in investigations. It is also available to other employers.

Expunged Records

Expunged criminal convictions are public records. Unlike sealed records, they are not readily available to the general public. They can only be accessed with a court order. The process depends on state and local laws.

You need to consult a criminal defense attorney if you are seeking expungement. They will tell you the specific requirements and help you through the process.

There are many benefits to having an expunged criminal record. It can allow you to get a second chance at employment. They can also be used in removal proceedings. Expunged records are not listed in background checks.

Sealing criminal records is a similar process. But instead of erasing the criminal record, it keeps it from the public. In many states, records are sealed after a certain period.

In a few states, a subject must prepare a complicated court filing in order to expunge their records. In other jurisdictions, they are physically destroyed. In other cases, a subject can represent themselves as a pro se.

Depending on the jurisdiction, expungement of records may be available for certain types of offenses. Some jurisdictions only allow expungement for misdemeanors and non-violent crimes.

Pardoned Convictions

Among other things, pardons can remove penalties and disqualifications for crimes. They are usually granted in recognition of an applicant’s good behavior after a conviction. The Executive branch of government can issue these types of pardons.

The process of pardoning is a controversial subject and can be seen as a way of combating corruption. Some pardons are seen as a way of granting illegal benefits to officials.

Some states allow pardons for prisoners on death row, but others do not. Some laws limit the types of crimes that can be pardoned.

Pardons can be conditional or absolute. In a conditional pardon, the offender must affirmatively agree to certain conditions. For example, a car thief who witnessed the murder of another may be granted immunity. He may be asked to testify against the murderer.

In the United States, a pardon does not restore a criminal license or remove a criminal record. The Office of the Pardon Attorney lists the names of those who have been pardoned. It also lists the offenses and the date the pardon was granted.

Disqualifying Convictions

Using criminal records aside from fingerprint criminal background checks to disqualify applicants from obtaining an occupational license is not commonplace. However, many states, like Florida, have laws that restrict such behavior. These laws can deter employers, especially in areas where populations are vulnerable to crime. Aside from the legal aspects of this practice, employers may be concerned about negligent hiring lawsuits.

One way licensing agencies can avoid this is by giving applicants a chance to determine whether a conviction will disqualify them from obtaining an occupational license. They are also tasked with deciding that a criminal conviction seriously threatens public safety. They are also required to provide applicants with reasons for any denial decision and an opportunity to appeal.

In addition to the mandatory exclusions, a number of relief mechanisms are available to those seeking an occupational license. For example, a conviction for a misdemeanor sex offense is not subject to mandatory disqualification. A criminal conviction for a felony crime, if properly erased, may not operate as a bar to obtaining an occupational license. In addition, the Uniform Criminal Consequences of Conviction Act authorizes courts to relieve mandatory collateral sanctions.

Consideration in Occupational Licensing

Occupational licensing is regulated by state law. In most states, a person with a criminal record is not automatically barred from licensure. However, the licensing board must make an evaluation. In most states, the determination is based on a multi-factor test.

The first step is determining whether a criminal conviction “directly relates” to the type of license sought. In most states, this standard means that the crime must have a substantial bearing on the individual’s fitness to perform the duties of the occupation.

In addition to determining whether the criminal conviction is directly related, licensing agencies must consider whether the offense was a public safety issue. They must also choose the time between the offense and the application. For instance, if a person has been convicted of a sex crime, a more extended period may be required before the violation is considered for licensing purposes.

Some licenses, such as professional licenses, require a direct relationship between the crime and the occupation. This requires a lengthy list of specific criteria.