Can I Get a Job with a Misdemeanor on My Record? -
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Can I Get a Job with a Misdemeanor on My Record?

Can I Get a Job With a Misdemeanor On My Record

For those just getting out of prison and remembering what life was like prior to incarceration, they will realize that jobs are quite difficult to find and may seem impossible to get.

This blog post will address the issue of whether or not you can get a job with a misdemeanor on your record.

  • What is a Misdemeanor?
  • Effects of a Misdemeanor
  • Background Check with a Misdemeanor
  • How to Deal with a Misdemeanor on a Job Application
  • Making Your Case for Employment

What is a Misdemeanor?

As many as one third of Americans are arrested by the age of 23. A significant number of them may end up being convicted of a crime with at least a misdemeanor on their record as a result. A misdemeanor is a minor criminal offense that carries a sentence of:

  • A fine
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Up to a year in prison

There is a difference between states on what is considered a misdemeanor. The level of punishment is a good indication of whether or not that state considers the crime a misdemeanor or a felony. Even so, what might be a felony in one state may be a misdemeanor in another.

Misdemeanors are further broken down into several classes based on the punishment:

  • Federal Class A misdemeanors are those crimes punishable by six months to a year of jail.
  • Federal Class B misdemeanors impose 30 days to six months jail.
  • Class C misdemeanors impose five to 30 days jail.
  • Crimes punishable by less than five days jail are federal infractions.

Common misdemeanor crimes in the United States include:

  • DUI
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Burglary and property theft
  • Perjury
  • Unlawful possession of a weapon
  • Resisting arrest
  • Violating a restraining order

Effects of a Misdemeanor

A misdemeanor, while it carries a lighter sentence than a felony, will remain on your criminal record for life. Of course, whether a misdemeanor shows up on a background check depends on how thorough the check is. A criminal record can prevent you from getting certain jobs or licenses.

Here’s a great service you can use to run a background check on yourself to see what shows up on your record.

A misdemeanor criminal record can affect your employment prospects. There are federal and state laws that restrict the degree to which an employer can use your background in making a hiring decision.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) guidelines make it illegal to discriminate against an applicant simply because of a criminal conviction. If there is an appropriate business necessity for not hiring someone with a criminal conviction, this is allowed under federal law.

Some professions require a license to practice. Licenses are typically governed by state licensing boards which restrict licenses to those with a criminal background. Having a misdemeanor conviction will require disclosing that conviction on a license application with an explanation to the licensing commission. Each commission will regard any evidence differently.

Background Check with a Misdemeanor

A background check is common even in small businesses. If there is a record of misdemeanor convictions, the records will likely be located by a perspective employer. This may limit job opportunities. However, disclosing the record during a job application process and explaining the facts is helpful.

Before you even apply to jobs with a misdemeanor, it’s a good idea to use this service to run a background check on yourself.  By doing this, you’ll better understand exactly what potential employers will see when they are considering hiring you.

Misdemeanors are typically prosecuted at the county level. If an employer runs a state background check, the records may not include the county in which a defendant was convicted. Then it would be unlikely for a misdemeanor to show up.

Employers are often less concerned with a misdemeanor than with a felony.  For example, if there is a misdemeanor for an underage offense that is more than seven years old, most employers will be sympathetic and ignore it.

If an applicant states that he or she has no criminal record, but it shows up on a background check later, this can quickly lead to being fired, not because of the offense, but because of lying to the employer about it.

Employers can find out a lot from a criminal record:

  • Arrests in the last seven years
  • Convictions

An employer cannot find out about:

  • Arrests more than seven years in the past
  • Records that have been erased, expunged, or pardoned

A criminal background check will certainly be run for a number of jobs:

  • Nurse
  • Child day care center worker
  • Licensed home childcare provider
  • Casino jobs
  • Public school jobs

Federal law requires an employer to inform a candidate that a criminal background investigation will be done as part of the hiring process and a written consent is obtained. If the application asks for information regarding felony convictions, misdemeanor convictions do not have to be reported.

If there is a misdemeanor conviction, the information should be disclosed accurately and concisely. This means stating the law that you were convicted of violating and the subsequent sentence. Keeping the description brief shows that you are not preoccupied with the past and are prepared to focus on the future.

How to Deal with a Misdemeanor on a Job Application

If a question on a job application asks about felonies, the person does not have to mention misdemeanors.

It’s important on a job application to:

  • Know the questions that are usually asked and be ready with an answer
  • Tell the truth about everything
  • Decide how to explain a criminal record
  • Have a written job history
  • Have references

Only some types of records can be erased, including when the:

  • Defendant was found not guilty
  • Case was dismissed
  • Case was at least 13 years old
  • Criminal conviction was obtained as a juvenile with no felony before the age of 21

There are certain steps to follow regarding any misdemeanor conviction, including contacting an attorney. It’s important to go to the clerk’s office and the court where the misdemeanor conviction occurred to verify that all information is correct. For many jobs, a background check is more likely to occur after an interview rather than before.

Some states allow misdemeanor convictions to be expunged from a record. If this is available, it would certainly be helpful to clean up your criminal record. The report from court where the charges were filed can be helpful.

Checking with county, state, and federal courts is recommended. An arrest without conviction more than seven years old is unlikely to be seen due to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

When applying for a job, a question of a criminal conviction needs to be answered truthfully. You may be automatically disqualified if there is a lie discovered by a potential employer. Questions about criminal history may only ask for information regarding felonies, which gets you off the hook for needing to report misdemeanors.

Specific information regarding a criminal record should be clearly stated to a potential employer:

  • Briefly describe what happened with an acceptance of responsibility
  • Explain what a person did while incarcerated to better him or herself
  • Describe what someone is doing now to move past the conviction
  • Demonstrate having learned from one’s mistake

Making Your Case for Employment

A misdemeanor conviction should be explained briefly and accurately. He or she should take ownership for the mistake and state what that experience taught, and how he or she has changed since then.

When asked about a criminal conviction, it’s important to answer the question directly and honestly. The employer knows that you’re aware of what’s on your record. Attempts to pretend that you don’t know makes you appear dishonest.

Making mistakes is part of life. Showing that you are qualified and honest will give you the best chance at finding employment.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get hired with a misdemeanor on your record? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

9 responses to “Can I Get a Job with a Misdemeanor on My Record?”

  1. Not a chance so far with dozens of successful interviews. says:

    This is what I have been using so far;

    My charges are Misdemeanors obtained May 5th 2018. I have never served time in jail.
    • Reckless Endangerment – Class A
    • Threat/Use of a Dangerous Weapon in a Fight – Class A
    • Carrying a Dangerous Weapon Under the Influence – Class B
    • Criminal Mischief – Class B
    • Interference with Arresting Officer – Class B
    I was served Divorce papers after 18 yrs. of marriage. I blacked out reading said papers. I woke up 15 day later in the hospital, with a bullet wound to the chest. I spent the next 7 months recovering. I have been like a man of steel since Thanksgiving.
    I have since made progress in personal therapy and group support. I have stopped drinking completely.
    I would love to offer references that can attest to my rehabilitation and job-worthiness upon request.

    At this point soon as Employers hint of Misdemeanors, Violent or Fraud are the first to be thrown out. Not a chance so far with dozens of successful interviews.

    I will take the advice from above and come up with something better.

    Thank you for the advice.

  2. Any thoughts on this one? says:

    My charges are Misdemeanors obtained May 5th 2018. Jail time was never served, Courts ordered me to not mess up again and added a fine.
    • Reckless Endangerment
    • Threat/Use of a Dangerous Weapon in a Fight
    • Carrying a Dangerous Weapon Under the Influence
    • Criminal Mischief
    • Interference with Arresting Officer
    I was served Divorce papers after 18 yrs. of marriage. I lost consciousness while reading said papers. I woke up 15 day later in the hospital, with a bullet wound to the chest. I spent the next 7 months recovering. I have been like a man of steel since Thanksgiving. My Sabbatical is over, put me to work!
    Since the accident, I have made progress in personal therapy and group support. I have stopped drinking completely.
    I would love to offer references that can attest to my rehabilitation and job-worthiness upon request.

  3. Professional not Personal says:

    I would focus on professional circumstances rather than personal ones. I don’t believe they need to know why you were in the hospital, that just adds to the drama. Focus on your rehabilitation through the misdemeanor charges. Any other information can be supplied through the interview if asked. Suggestion: ” I was charged with a few misdemeanors back in May of 2018. I have since worked diligently on resolving the issues through rehabilitation of which I can provide you with qualified references.”

    Here you telling the truth without revealing a story of which they will most likely judge.

    Good Luck

  4. Silvana says:

    My charge was for felonie but in court my charge was for misdemeanor and Jail time was 18 days. The judge said that I could erase my records. So my question is If my background is deleted, when I am asked in a job if I was in jail I have to say that yes or no?

  5. Christina says:

    Good to know. I got in some trouble while serving in the Navy. I have brig time. Hardly any employer looks at service papers. It’s not a misdemeanor or felony. I wish it never occurred. I work in the medical field and I am lucky that it is not on my background check. I would switch to a different study like business or computers if I am in a sensitive position with my current job situation.

  6. Thinking too much says:

    I have a felon charge reduced to a misdemeanor. (Attempt assault on peace officer) 3rd dui and possession of paraphernalia. Most of my work experience is with loan companies. I afraid that my background will prevent me from getting a good job..

  7. Elizabeth Thomas says:

    I was at some dark places in my life and have received a 2 of the same class 4 misdemeanors which are Drunk in Public. Basically I was at the wrong place at the wrong time, while trying to do the right thing going home however police officers felt different. Will class 4 misdemeanors keep you from getting a job at a hospital? They are listed on my record as Public Conduct. Thanks

  8. Julio says:

    December of 2018, I found my in the middle of the road telling officers to shoot me. I lied and said I had gun so they would shoot me. They tasered me instead and I went to jail for two week for my safety. I was facing a lot of depression and was have a breakdown that night. That person in the middle of the road wasn’t who I was at all. I was tried of life and everything happened so quickly. They wouldn’t except me into mental health court because they said my charge was big enough and I wouldn’t have the motivation to attend classes. They didn’t give me a chance to erase this from my record because they thought it was not a big deal. My attorney kept pressuring me into plea-bargain so I took it because I was scared that I would get worse chargers. They charged me with a class B misdemeanor in reckless endangerment June of 2019 and since then I haven’t been able to find work. I have never had problems getting a job because I’m a very likable person. I have been hired to every job I’ve had a interview with but after the background check they don’t hire me. They always mention they will be running a background check and I haven’t ever spoken up to tell them I had a misdemeanor because I was ashamed with everything that happened. I’m worried I’ll never get a job. I’m a good person who has many dreams. I’ll start being honest about my situation the next job I’m offered. I hope that works. Any advice in how to address my misdemeanor? Thank you for this form! I was literally crying seconds ago from hopelessness but this has given me a new perspective.

  9. K says:

    I have a misdemeanor weapons charge, carrying a concealed weapon, from ten years ago. Needless to say that applying for any type of part-time job has been thus far pointless. Many places have told me that anyone indicating a criminal record on an application is automatically disqualified, no matter the severity of the charge. So from my personal experience it really doesn’t matter if you have a felony or misdemeanor. Either will get your application discarded.

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