Your Felony Should Not Make It Difficult To Land a Job

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Your Felony Should Not Make It Difficult To Land a Job

Everyone has seen that little tick box on job applications that asks: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” For those who have been convicted of a felony (or even a misdemeanor) seeing that question can lead to a sinking feeling. 

Because of the negative stigma that revolves around spending time in prison or having a criminal conviction, ticking yes can often lead to a skilled applicant being rejected. However, lying on your application could get you disqualified anyway. 

Luckily, Arizona is joining the dozen or more states that have taken the question off its state job applications, while encouraging private companies to do the same. This can mean that if you have the right skills—whether you learned them before prison or if you worked hard during your prison time to gain them—you have a higher chance of finding a good job.

Finding a Job As a Felon Can Be Difficult

According to a 2018 study, around 95% of employers perform background checks. Depending on the type of job, your history as a convicted felon could keep you from getting hired. While rejecting applicants with a conviction is a type of discrimination, it is legal for an employer to make a decision based on criminal history. However, Arizona has several policies that can help convicts find gainful employment. 

Even Convicted Felons Have Employment Rights

Ban the Box Initiative

Arizona has joined with many other states and private companies to “ban the box”. Employers who follow this initiative do not ask any questions about prior convictions on their initial job applications. Advocates for the movement say that it allows companies to make better hiring decisions by looking at an applicant’s skills before digging into their background. 

Some Laws Limit How an Employer Can Use Knowledge of Your Past 

The same law that outlines the civil rights you lose when convicted of a felony (ARS 13-904) also defines how an employer can use the knowledge of your felony (or misdemeanor) conviction. 

It states that you may not be discriminated against unless you are applying for or certain licensed jobs, or if your conviction is directly related to the type of job you are seeking. 

For example, DUI convictions disqualify you from earning a commercial driver’s license. And those convicted of crimes against children may not work in schools or directly with children in any capacity. You can also legally be denied a license for real estate, teaching, and psychiatric work if you have a felony conviction.

Arizona’s Felony Bond Program

If the reason you will not be hired has to do with insurance coverage, be sure to tell your employer about Arizona’s felony bond program. This program supplies insurance bonds that help cover costs if something were to happen. It can give employers peace of mind that they will be covered if you slip up.

Expunging or Setting Aside a Conviction

Depending on the type of conviction, Arizona offers ways to keep your record out of background checks and off of an employer’s radar. 

If you were convicted as a juvenile and your case meets all applicable standards, you could be eligible to have the record expunged. This means that your conviction and any information about it will not be available for the public to view. In fact, the only people (other than you) who are legally allowed to see it are law enforcement officers and your lawyer. 

Unless you were convicted of a crime involving marijuana, there is no expunging your record. However, your conviction could still be “set aside.” Instead of appearing as a conviction, your charge will show as “set aside.” This gives you the ability to apply for licenses that would have been unavailable due to a felony conviction, and it offers you more protection against discrimination. 

When You’re Charged You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether the crime was big or small, past or present, having a good lawyer on your side can make a big difference. Many people struggle to find employment after spending time in prison, on probation, or on parole

If that happens to you, Todd Coolidge can help you navigate Arizona’s hectic criminal justice system. Having an exceptional lawyer could help you avoid felony charges, or even get a prior conviction expunged, improving your job prospects. Don’t let a criminal record keep you from finding a good job—contact us today to request a consultation on your case. 





Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (8/10/23). Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.