For felons, finding a job can seem like an impossible task; with background checks being the standard as most businesses, it can feel like an uphill battle to get a job. Many Felons wonder if there is a way to remove a felony from their record, or have the felony erased from a background check. In this blog post we will answer both of these questions, as well as dive deeper into the rules and regulations surrounding background checks as they relate to felonies.
How Does a Background Check Work?
A background check is a way for businesses, governments, or other organizations to make sure that the individual they are looking to hire is qualified to carry out the tasks required in the position that the person is applying for.
The first step in performing a background check is to have the individual’s consent. It is illegal for a business to look into someone’s past and review their information without having the right to do so; that being said, the business also reserves the right to dismiss a candidate for a job if they do not consent to a background check.
In most cases, the consent form will be on the job application itself; sometimes as a check box or will require a set of initials, the consent form cannot go unnoticed. In other cases where the consent form is not on the application, it may be online on the company’s website, or a separate form all together that is given to the candidate with the general application.
In the vast majority of cases, there is no way escaping a background check.
What do Background Checks Look For?
Background checks cover a variety of topics; from motor vehicle information to criminal records, background checks let the employer see into the candidate’s past and present.
Here are some heavily weighted items that are pulled from a background check.
- Credit History
- Criminal Record/History
- Certain Financial Records
- License and Motor Vehicle Information
- And many more…
Background checks reveal a lot about a job candidate, that is why they are so popular among employers.
Do Felonies Go Away After a Certain Amount of Time?
No. Felonies never go away unless they have either been sealed or expunged. A felony is the most serious charge an individual can receive, therefore the process of removing them is very strict.
The “7-Year Rule” is the idea that after seven years, any felonies on someone’s record are deleted. This is not true. What the “7-Year Rule” refers to is the typical time frame in which background checks cover.
For example, if the felony on someone’s record is from 25 years ago, it will not be displayed in most background checks. This is because most background checks only reveal information on the past five to ten years. Now, the employer is able to request a background check that goes back farther, where the felony may be revealed, but this is not common practice. The only time an employer would do that is if the role required security clearance or there were other concerns with the application.
How to Remove a Felony from Your Record.
Removing a felony from a criminal record is possible, but not easy. Some felonies are unable to be erased based on their nature. Violent felonies cannot be erased, nor can any sexual felonies.
Expungement is the process of getting a felony removed from your criminal record. Expungement simply deletes the felony, making it disappear. In order to begin the proceedings for expungement, one will have to file a petition to the courts in their district to request to have their felony expunged, then either go before a judge for their ruling, or receive notice if your request for expungement was granted or not.
The rules and procedures for expungement vary on a state to state basis. Visit your state’s corrections website to learn more about the proper paperwork and steps to get a felony expunged.
Do Misdemeanors Appear on Background Checks?
Yes. Misdemeanors are part of anyone’s criminal record so they will show up on a background check. Misdemeanors are less severe than felonies which means that having a misdemeanor on your criminal record will play a lesser role in the application process than if you were to have a felony.
Misdemeanors are similar to felonies in that they do not automatically get erased from a criminal record after a set amount of time. Misdemeanors stay on someone’s record for the rest of their lives, just like felonies do. The only way to remove a misdemeanor is to file for expungement.
Can Employers Choose Not to Hire Someone with A Criminal Record?
Employers are able to turn away applicants due to their criminal record. There are a series of laws and policies that are in place to prevent businesses from blindly turning away candidates that do have a criminal record.
For example, the Government has incentivized hiring convicted felons through their program called the “Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program”. This program awards businesses with a tax credit for hiring felons- specifically felons who have recently left prison. This program has prompted businesses to hire felons at a more frequent rate, helping them secure employment and earn money.
How Do Felonies Play a Factor in The Job Market?
Felonies are reported on background checks. Felonies appear under the “Criminal Record/History” category and are almost impossible to erase. In the next section we will discuss how someone could remove a felony from their background check, so keep reading for that.
While a felony will be reported in a background check, that does not necessarily disqualify someone from the job they are applying for. A great way for a felon to improve their chances of getting a job that requires a background check is to prepare for the background check.
Some jobs simply do not allow felons to apply, typically role specific, some jobs are not available to convicted felons. Examples of jobs and industries that do not accept felons are:
- Aerospace and Defense
- Banking and Finance
Now it is important to note that for felons, it is still possible to work within these industries. What is not possible is some job roles within these industries. For example, a missile engineer at a major defense company will not hire felons because candidates are required to pass a background check to receive security clearance.
It is possible to prepare for a background check. Keep in mind that background checks look at a variety of things, a background check isn’t just for checking if someone has committed past crimes.
Work on increasing your credit score, keep your vehicle and license information up to date, do not miss payments or default on any loans, and try not to file for bankruptcy. By working on improving other aspects of your background check, it shows the employer that you are motivated to succeed, that you are determined to reach your goals.
What else can disqualify someone on a background check?
Employers look at background checks for more than just examining a candidate’s criminal history, they also look into their credit score, among other things.
Having a poor credit score is a red flag for employers. A person’s credit score is affected by many different variables, variables that give the employer insight into how a person chooses to delegate and spend their money.
A credit score can reveal if someone has filed for bankruptcy, has defaulted on any loans, had any repossessions, or any credit card debt. Employers look for high credit scores because having a high credit score typically means that the person is good at managing money.
What are some good careers for felons?
Even though felons may be disqualified from holding some jobs due to their criminal record, that does not mean that they cannot become successful.
Here is a small list of some of the top careers for felons.
- Truck Driver
- HVAC Technician
These jobs have a very high growth rate and pay well above minimum wage. Trade school for most of these careers is required, but in some cases, felons may be able to begin work as an apprentice right away to start earning money.
Can a Felon own a business?
Yes. Felons are able to start, operate, and run their own business. Felons are allowed to receive business licenses and other necessary certificates to run their legal business.
For felons who are having difficulty finding a job, creating their own job might be the best option.
Felons may find getting funding and investors for their business to be challenging, but it is possible. There have been many successful entrepreneurs who have criminal records, examples include Kevin Mitnick, Frank William Abagnale Jr. and others.
Thank You for reading! Do you think background checks should be required for job candidates? Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments!