According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, approximately 77 million Americans have a criminal record. Having a criminal record, whether from an arrest, charge, or conviction, brings about many collateral consequences and challenges that can significantly alter one’s life. One notable effect a criminal record has is on one’s employment, making it difficult to either keep your job or apply to future ones. However, every criminal’s situation is unique, and each state has different laws concerning employment. 

Background Checks

A background check is a standard screening process that is generally conducted before or after an individual has been offered a position of employment at a company. There are several different elements that a background check may look for, including one’s driving records, employment history, criminal records, credit report, sex offender registration, and education history. In most states, the background check will include about seven to ten years of data. However, if you have been convicted of a crime within this time period and it shows up on your background check, it may provide substantial reason for a company to not hire or to fire you. 

Expunging a Criminal Record

One way in which an individual may skirt around the consequences of having a criminal record is through the process of expungement. To expunge a criminal charge is to remove and seal it so that it is no longer on an individual’s criminal record. The laws for expungement are unique to every state and there are, of course, limitations to how far these expungement orders go. For example, in Indiana, individuals are unable to seek expungement if they have a human or sexual trafficking offense. Therefore, it is important to conduct research as to whether you are able to pursue a criminal record expungement. 

“Ban the Box” Law

37 states across the country have adopted the “ban the box” law, also known as the Fair Chance Act. This law prohibits employers from discriminating against an individual with a criminal conviction prior to making a job offer. Essentially, this law attempts to put all individuals on a level playing field when it comes to the interview process. Unfortunately, this law does not prohibit employers from conducting a background check after employment, which will likely show your criminal record history. If the employer finds your criminal record however, they must make an individualized assessment to decipher whether your criminal charge provides grounds to rescind your offer. 

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

Unfortunately, a criminal charge can make it very difficult for an individual to maintain and seek employment. Fortunately, the aforementioned laws coupled with some others, such as Certificates of Rehabilitation, have been put in place to protect criminals. However, if you have been charged with a crime, it is advised to contact an experienced Indianapolis criminal defense attorney to help defend you and protect your rights. Being either rightfully or wrongfully accused of a crime can have life-altering effects when it comes to employment, and these matters must be taken into consideration with incredible precision and care.