One of the many challenges an ex-felon faces when re-entering society is finding a job. There are many job opportunities available to ex-felons. The key is knowing where to look for one and what steps to take for an employer to consider hiring. Depending on the felony committed, some employers may be hesitant to hire ex-felons at all. Some career paths are not open to anyone with a felony on their record. This can cause frustration for ex-felons who have a particular field of interest.
One job that might be of interest to ex-felons is becoming a repo agent. There are many factors to consider in determining whether an ex-felon can become a repo agent. A repo agency is going to run a background check on all job applicants. This because repo agencies require that employees have a clean criminal record. That said, ex-felons do stand a chance of becoming a repo agent if they are eligible to have their criminal record expunged.
What Is a Repo Agent?
A repo agent is in charge of repossessing property from people who have not paid their lease on time. Examples of property includes vehicles like cars, boats, or even airplanes. Repo agents usually work in conjunction with banks or other financial lenders. Lenders gain legal rights to repossession when a payment is anywhere from 30 to 90 days late. At this point the agent’s duties includes tracking down the property. They will then need to move it to a secure place. If they have a copy of the vehicle’s keys, they will drive it away. If not, they will either tow it or break in.
Working hours for repo agents are generally between midnight and 5am. An agent can expect to repossess four or five vehicles each week. Income varies depending on whether the agent is a private contractor or an employee of an agency. Annual projected income is around $32k. The average stipend per job varies from $150 to $400. There are two types of repossessions: voluntary and involuntary. A voluntary repossession is when a debtor offers to return their property. An involuntary repossession is when the agent must remove property from a debtor who does not wish to return it. Involuntary repossessions tend to pay more than voluntary repossessions.
Training to Become a Repo Agent
For ex-felons considering a career in repo agency, it’s important to consider what training is necessary. One of the perks of becoming a repo agent is that the job does not need a college degree. This means anyone can become a repo agent regardless of educational background.
Repo agents may need licensing depending on what state they work in. There are currently 13 states that offer licensing to repo agents. Keep in mind licensing programs are likely to conduct a background check. An ex-felon will need to explore getting their record expunged before pursuing licensing.
Repo agents will need to have a valid operating license for the vehicles they repossess.
Agents who repossess trucks will need to get a CDL (commercial driver’s license) through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Agents who drive vehicles with double trailers or trucks carrying hazardous material will need more licensing.
Some agents may want to expand their services to repossessing boats. Repo agents can explore getting a mariner’s license through the National Maritime Center.
Some repo jobs involve the repossession of airplanes. Repo agents can explore getting a pilot’s license through the Federal Aviation Administration.
What is Expungement?
Repo agencies will not hire anyone who has a felony on their record. To become a repo agent, an ex-felon will need to have their record expunged. Expungement involves destroying a criminal record so a felony conviction is not available to public. This allows any background checks to show up clean.
Whether a record is eligible for expungement depends on the type of the conviction. How long ago the conviction happened is also a factor. Not all states offer expungement. The Restoration of Rights Project has compiled a list of individual state laws for expungement.
Who Can Get an Expungement?
Perpetrators of violent crimes and sexual offenses do not generally qualify for expungement. Michigan recently passed a new bill that may expunge some violent offenses. Michigan is the only state that may expunge some violent offenses.
Repeat offenders and felons with a federal crime on record also do not generally qualify for expungement. Felons that committed crimes of moral turpitude may have a hard time obtaining an expungement. A crime of moral turpitude is one that opposes society’s moral values. Furthermore, a felon who is re-convicted after an expungement is unlikely to receive another.
First-time offenders are more likely to receive an expungement. Felons with minor misdemeanors such as a traffic offense, and those who have served their sentences in full, also have a better chance. It is helpful if a significant amount of time has passed since the conviction took place. Felons seeking expungement should work to show positive change. Positive change includes a clean post-arrest record, educational growth, and work achievements.
How to Get an Expungement
Research the laws in your state to find out whether you have a record that qualifies for expungement. Consider hiring a lawyer to offer guidance through the process. It’s best to hire someone with experience in expungement.
Most states only allow one petition for expungement, and a felon cannot re-file if denied. This is why the help of a lawyer who is familiar with the court rules and the expungement process is so important.
The first step is to send a petition to court asking for the record to be cleared. The court will likely want to hold a hearing to determine whether to grant the request. Again, it can be helpful to have a lawyer present. A lawyer will be able to attest to the positive changes you have made. They can also advocate for going forward with sealing your record.
An attorney fee for expungement varies. It will depend on time investment and the type of conviction. Minor misdemeanors usually cost $500 to $750. Serious misdemeanors may range from $500 to $1000. The expungement process for misdemeanors generally take about six months. It may or may not need a hearing. An attorney fee for felonies can cost $1000 to $5000. Felony expungements may take up to a year to process.
If hiring an attorney is not possible, there are other options. The courthouse’s pro-se desk will help in filling out forms. Another possibility is hiring a service to help create a petition. Keep in mind these resources are not able to provide the legal guidance a lawyer can.
Are There Alternatives to Expungement?
There are alternatives to expungement, but they don’t all result in a clear record. Alternatives include a Pardon, a Certificate of Innocence, and a Certificate of Rehabilitation. The only one of these that will result in a clean record is a Certificate of Innocence. Though a repo agent needs a clear record, these options may help an ex-felon find other career opportunities.
A federal or state Pardon occurs when the president or state governor forgives a felon of their crime. The Pardon serves to clear all penalties. A Pardon does not erase a felony from a record. Information for federal Pardon is available at the United States Department of Justice. Research individual state laws for state Pardons.
Certificate of Innocence
A Certificate of Innocence recognizes a felon did not commit the crime on their record. The certificate serves to remove all penalties and clear the record. Any background checks will show up clean for an ex-felon with a Certificate of Innocence. Research individual state laws for a Certificate of Innocence.
Certificate of Rehabilitation
A Certificate of Rehabilitation recognizes that an ex-felon has demonstrated commitment to rehabilitation. A Certificate of Rehabilitation may open up employment opportunities for ex-felons. That said, it does not erase a felony from a record. Only six states offer Certificates of Rehabilitation currently. A summary of state laws on Certificates of Rehabilitation is available at the Legal Action Center.
Finding a job is one of the challenges ex-felons face. Different jobs have different policies about whether ex-felons can apply. Some felons might be interested in becoming a repo agent. A repo agent is responsible for repossessing property from people who have not paid their lease on time. Working hours are overnight. The stipend often varies according to whether the repossession is voluntary or involuntary.
Statutes around repo agency state that agents must have a clean criminal record. Working as a repo agent is one career that is possible for ex-felons who have had their record cleared Expungement is the process through which ex-felons may receive a clean record. Yet, not every felon is eligible for expungement.
In this case, there are other options that may help lessen the impact of their conviction. Other options include a pardon, certificate of innocence, or certificate of rehabilitation. Ex-felons who receive a pardon or certificate of rehabilitation will not be eligible to become a repo agent. Out of these options, only a certificate of innocence will clear a record.