Felons looking for new jobs most often undergo employer background checks. Background checks can make a felon’s job search incredibly stressful.
It can be hard to know if an employer will perform a background search. It’s common for large corporate companies to almost always screen out felons. Luckily, the opposite is usually true for many small and medium-sized companies.
One question to consider is can a felon move to another state and get employed? And whether a felony will show in another state?
Which Employers Use Background Checks?
Now more than ever before, background checks are cheaper and easier to use. It’s true that some companies use them to find the “best” person for a position. And some Federal and state employers even require them. But the law doesn’t make background checks mandatory.
Certain industries are more likely than others to require background checks. That’s why smaller companies can be so attractive to felons looking for jobs. Make sure to research an employer’s hiring policies before you apply to their positions.
One thing that isn’t changing about background checks, however, is data. Background searches can use criminal data from more than just one source. Felons looking for work should know what information background checks use and where they get it.
National Databases and State Databases for Criminal Records
The United States has two main sources of criminal conviction data. The first source is a state’s criminal conviction database. Many, but not all states have their own criminal database. The second source is the National Crime Information Center, or the NCIC. The criminal conviction information in state databases goes into the NCIC.
Or at least, it usually does. Sometimes communication issues prevent data sharing between a state’s database and the NCIC. Or bureaucratic issues might occur that also prevent information sharing. So, it’s always possible that if someone runs your background check on NCIC, they won’t see your conviction in another state.
However, it’s common for investigators to check more than one state database. If you’ve lived in multiple states, an investigator will likely see your conviction. It’s true that not all investigators check more than one state database. But felons should know that convictions in one state usually appear in background checks from another.
It’s impossible for felons to know for sure whether an investigator will see convictions in another state. But it can be helpful if they consider their crime’s severity.
Know How Serious Your Crime Is
Background checks are more thorough for certain felonies. Felons looking for jobs should consider how recent or violent their crime was. Background searches always become more intense for recent, violent felonies. It’s easy for investigators to see your felony if you just committed it. But as time passes, they’ll rely on your NCIC warrant data.
Consider Whether You Face Extradition
If you were not immediately arrested or did not post bail, your out-of-state felony will enter the NCIC. If you encounter law enforcement in another state, a quick background check will locate your crimes. The question becomes, “Does my crime make extradition likely?”
Again, you should know how serious your crime is. It sounds harsh, but violent felonies will always follow someone across state lines. If you’ve committed a violent felony, it will appear in another state’s database. If you encounter law enforcement in another state, you will likely be arrested and extradited.
It’s possible you were arrested for a less serious or non-violent crime. If that’s the case, the distance between you and a state trying to extradite you becomes important. If your felony is very serious, law enforcement agencies will extradite you. But if your crime is less serious, the cost and time might not be worth it for them.
Understand that extradition can play a part in your employment search. If you have a serious out-of-state felony that makes extradition possible, consider narrowing your employment search.
Be Honest with Potential Employers
No matter how serious your felony is, you need to be honest with potential employers. If a felon is dishonest with an employer about their record, background checks will make employment impossible. Felons should always be honest about their criminal record to avoid future issues.
If you can convince an employer that you made a one-time mistake, your chances of employment will go up. Always remember to be honest with potential employers during your job search.
Expungement – What is it and can I do it?
Felons looking for new jobs can greatly benefit from expungement. Expungement is often overlooked or forgotten by felons trying to re-enter the workforce. If you expunge your criminal record, no background check will be able to find it.
Expunging your criminal record requires a strong, reliable lawyer. And it’s absolutely essential that you do not commit further crimes after your first conviction. Additionally, no state automatically expunges its record of felony convictions. Depending on how serious your felony is, it may not be possible to expunge it.
Contact a lawyer that you know and trust to see if expungement is an option for you. Rules about expungement vary by state, so make sure that your attorney clearly explains your options.
Know That You Are Not Alone
Finding employment as a felon isn’t always simple. But having the right knowledge and resources can make it much easier. Remember what we’ve covered as you continue your job search:
- Understand what information background checks use. If you understand what data background checks use, it’ll be easier to anticipate if they’ll see your out-of-state conviction.
- Know how serious your crime is. Certain crimes are more likely to appear in background searches than others. Be honest with yourself about the seriousness of your felony.
- Always be honest. Never hide your criminal record from a potential employer. Be honest with them about your past and explain that you made a one-time mistake.
- Consider expungement. If you have an attorney you trust, ask them if expungement is an option for you. Background checks can’t see criminal data that’s been expunged.
As long as you arm yourself with the right resources, you will be well on your way to finding a new job. Don’t give up on your search, and always remember that you’re not alone in this challenge.