Criminal Record and Job Applications
When an individual is charged with a crime, he or she usually focuses on the immediate consequences of the charge. You want to know whether the prosecutor can prove the case against you, and what sort of sentence you might face if you are convicted. Often, individuals forget to consider the collateral consequences of a conviction. When you have a conviction on your criminal record, that conviction follows you for the rest of your life. It can have a huge impact on other areas of your life and it is crucial to consider that impact when you are resolving your case.
One such area is in the job application process. Almost all job applications ask whether the candidate has been convicted of a crime, and it can be difficult to obtain a job if you have a criminal record. Still, you need to be forthcoming on job applications and answer all of the questions truthfully. For these reasons, when you face criminal charges, you should hire a lawyer who will not only defend you against your charges, but who will also consider how different options will appear on your criminal record and how they can affect your future job prospects. There are various ways to avoid a permanent record when resolving a criminal case and an experienced attorney can help you achieve a result that does not create a job application issue in the future.
This is especially important, and complicated, in the plea bargaining process. Certain dispositions that you may be presented with will seem like a good alternative to going to trial or serving jail time, but still count as a conviction on your criminal record. Thus, when you are applying for a job, you will still have to disclose the conviction on your record, even if you just did probation for the charge instead of going to trial.
For example, if you take pre-trial probation on a charge, and complete the probation without any violations, you do not need to disclose that charge on a job application because pre-trial probation is not considered a conviction. Similarly, if you take a continuance without a finding, and complete the requisite probationary period, you do not have to disclose that charge because although you will be asked to admit to sufficient facts that would constitute the offense charged, once you complete the probationary period the case is dismissed. Your lawyer should review these possibilities with you and determine what disposition is best given your career goals and financial needs going forward.
If a job application only asks whether you have been convicted of a felony, you do not need to disclose any misdemeanors on your criminal record. It is thus extremely important to understand your criminal record and how each conviction is classified. Moreover, your attorney can petition the court to seal your criminal record. If successful, any convictions prior to the sealing do not need to be disclosed on a job application.
Recently, Massachusetts enacted a law prohibiting employers from asking questions regarding any arrest or prosecution that did not end in a conviction, a first conviction for drunkenness, simple assault, speeding, minor traffic violations, or disturbing the peace, misdemeanors that were resolved more than five years ago, any court appearance that has been sealed under state law, and anything pertaining to a juvenile record.
When facing any charge, you need an attorney who will protect your record so that the effects of a conviction do not negatively impact other areas of your life. In addition, if you have a criminal record, it is a good idea to speak to an attorney before disclosing any information on a job application. You do not want to disclose unnecessary information, nor should you answer a question that an employer is not allowed to ask.
The attorneys at the law firm of Altman & Altman have extensive experience both defending clients at criminal proceedings, and advising clients on job applications. We understand the ways in which different dispositions lead to convictions, and how they appear on a criminal record. We take the time with each and every client to explain these consequences and determine the best result given that client’s career goals, finances, and family situation. We also regularly advise clients on how to truthfully answer job application questions while not revealing any unnecessary and harmful information.
Call us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case and learn about your legal rights and options. You do not have to let your criminal record dictate your future if you understand how to work within the rules of the system. The lawyers at Altman & Altman are ready to guide you through that process.