There are a lot of things to worry about in your regular, everyday life. Those worries can be amplified by certain events that have happened in your life. If you have arrest records, there’s a good chance that you’re worried about how that might impact your future job hunts. There are many things in our criminal justice system that are very confusing, so you should never feel bad about not knowing everything. After all, lawyers go to school for seven years after high school, and most lawyers still specialize in a specific field of law. It’s all very complicated, and today we’re going to take a brief look at how arrest records can affect your potential jobs in the future.
What are Arrest Records and Why Do They Exist?
Before getting into how arrest records can affect your potential employment down the road, let’s just make sure that all of our readers actually understand what we’re talking about. Arrest records are records kept by law enforcement of arrests. So, if you get arrested, that would go on your arrest record whether or not you were convicted of a crime. Fortunately, if you were arrested without a conviction, you can get the record expunged in most states. If you were convicted of a crime, things could get a little more complicated.
When you’re actually convicted of a crime, that goes on your criminal record. Whether you were convicted of the lowest misdemeanor or the highest felony, it goes on your criminal record. These, too, can be expunged, but it takes years for you to be eligible, depending on what state you were convicted in. There is no federal law that determines how long this process takes or what you need to do to qualify, so it’s decided on a state level.
Now, why do these records exist? It’s simple, really. The government keeps track of all of its doings, no matter how small. That makes it easier for different people to pull up information from the past, and that makes things run a lot more smoothly in general. Arrest records are particularly useful for law enforcement officers because it allows them to see if you were arrested for the same crime before but got off scot-free. Unfortunately, if this is the case, you will likely be arrested again. There’s usually less leniency for re-offenders.
Humans have been taking records for a very long time. Since ancient Egypt, in fact. At this point, most of the people in charge agree that these records are incredibly important for any society to progress the way that it should. The people working in the government have to be able to refer to other events that have occurred at any point in time, whether it just happened a week ago or over a hundred years ago. It makes the entire system run more smoothly when people have easy access to this information whenever they may need it.
Will Arrest Records Make Your Job Hunt More Difficult?
We all need money to survive. That statement is true of you, it’s true of the nice lady working the bakery, of the doctor you saw to treat your last illness, and even of the homeless person begging for change on the street corner. Money is really the only way to make sure that you’ll have food, water, and shelter because these things all cost money. That’s why it makes perfect sense to be a little stressed out about the potential for an arrest to hurt your chances of getting a job. Without a job, you’ll likely not be able to meet your own basic needs.
The answer to this question depends on the state. There’s no federal law dictating if an employer can refuse you for having an arrest on your record. Fortunately, most states make this practice illegal. So that means, odds are, you’ll have nothing to worry about if you get arrested. That is, assuming that the arrest isn’t something directly related to the job you want to get. For example, if you got arrested for a DUI, you probably wouldn’t be able to get a driving job because the employer would be taking a liability by hiring you and letting you drive their vehicles.
Generally, you’ll be fine if you were arrested for something like loitering. Make sure you check your local laws and ordinances so you can be certain that you’re applying to the right jobs for your situation. If you feel that an employer is treating you unfairly based on an arrest, you may want to talk to a lawyer so they can straighten it out for you.
What Can Hurt Your Chances at Finding a Job?
Because money is such an important commodity in the society we live in, you may be wondering what could hurt your odds of finding a job? Arrest records probably won’t, but those only make up a small part of our criminal justice system. So what kind of things could hurt you more than arrest records?
Well, criminal records can hurt your job hunt a lot. As we mentioned, criminal records are records kept of people that have convictions. Depending on the charge, an employer can easily refuse you a job for it. Most employers don’t want any felons working for them, but that’s not the only thing on your criminal record that can make getting a job hard.
Any conviction that the employer could reasonably say would make you a bad fit for the position can make your job hunt more difficult. For instance, if you’ve been charged with fraud and identity theft, there’s a good chance that you wouldn’t get hired to work in a call center that handles sensitive information.
Of course, not being qualified for a position can also hurt your job hunt, but most people already understand that. After all, you wouldn’t go looking for a job as a doctor unless you had a Ph.D. in medicine. You probably wouldn’t try to get a job as a master electrician without going through the years of training that it takes to get to that point.
Why do Employers Check Backgrounds?
Employers have done background checks for years, but why would they do something like that? If they have a perfect candidate in front of them, why would they want to make it harder for that person to join their team? It can be a little confusing and counter-intuitive, but they do have a good reason. It’s the same reason that so many employers do drug tests. They want to make sure that the potential employee is someone that is going to be trustworthy.
Many companies don’t want a murderer on their team because it’s a liability. You never know when that person might snap and kill someone at work. Of course, the person in question may be entirely rehabilitated. They could have even only murdered as a crime of passion. Even so, most companies don’t want to take on that liability, and they legally don’t have to, so they don’t.
It’s a similar reason with drug tests at so many places. Employers want to be sure that their employees aren’t going to show up to work high on heroin, for instance. Even something as simple as a shelf stocker carries a liability if they come in to work high and hurt themselves on the clock.
These systems are simply in place so the employer can cover themselves. There are a lot of hungry lawyers just waiting for someone to come into their office with a good reason to sue someone, and corporate lawsuits can be especially lucrative depending on what exactly happened and why.
There are also plenty of people looking to sue anyone for any reason. A lawsuit can bring a lot of money into someone’s pocket that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Businesses are well aware of this, so they do their very best to avoid as many liabilities as possible, so they don’t end up on the wrong side of a nasty lawsuit.
Understanding Your Rights as an Applicant
Employment law is just as complicated as any other branch of law. There are a lot of ins and outs that you need to know, and it can all be very overwhelming. Fortunately, if you have an arrest record, you can probably breathe a sigh of relief knowing that it won’t hurt your odds for a job in the future. There are a lot of things that can hurt your odds of getting any specific position, but your arrest probably isn’t one of them. Whether you’re looking to become a gas station attendant or an astronaut, it’s good to know what can disqualify you for the position right off the bat.
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