Obviously, having a criminal record is viewed in a negative light, however, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about criminal records. Whether you are worried about getting a job, concerned about the record itself, or just have questions, it is good to clear up the myths and know the basics about your criminal record. Read on to learn about six important things you should know about a criminal record:
Who Can View Your Criminal Record?
Before the advent of the Internet, generally only those in the legal profession had access to criminal records. The truth is, unless you have your charges expunged or your records sealed, nearly anyone with a computer can view your criminal history.
Can Charges Be Removed from Your Criminal Record?
Many people worry about having something on their record throughout their life. While the options are limited, there are some cases where items can be removed from the record. Some charges can be erased if they meet certain criteria such as:
- You were found not guilty.
- You were a youthful offender.
- Your case was dismissed.
Generally, these sorts of records should be automatically removed. If not, you must contact your local court for correction.
Can Employers Refuse You a Job Due to Your Record?
This kind of discriminatory hiring protocol is generally considered illegal. A blanket policy of denying employment just because of past criminal history is a violation of civil rights. A prospective employer should engage in an individualized assessment of candidates who possess a criminal history.
How Can You Obtain a Copy of Your Criminal Record?
It’s prudent to have a copy of your own record, so you know what others will be seeing. You can obtain a local report from your jurisdictional court, or a national report from the FBI. There are also many unofficial public record searches available online.
How Do You Explain Your Criminal Record to Prospective Employers?
Honesty is the best policy in this situation. Chances are that your employer may already have some knowledge of your criminal past. They will recognize and respect your integrity when you openly answer their questions regarding your criminal history.
You May Be a Financial Asset to Prospective Employers
Having a criminal record may not always be a disadvantage when job hunting. Did you know that employers can actually claim a tax credit for hiring convicted felons within a year of their conviction or prison release? Some employers will enjoy a modest financial gain, while giving you the opportunity to work toward a brighter future.
No matter what your criminal record looks like, it is important to know your rights regarding the record. As you can see, a criminal record, while still considered negative, doesn’t put an end to any hopes or plans you had for the future. When you are aware of what is on the record, and what others see when they look at it, you will know how to handle future situations when the topic of the record comes up. Your future is brighter than you think!
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Dixie got advice for this article from Rod Gregory, a defense lawyer in Edmonton.
Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org via defenseimagery.mil