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Misdemeanor on Job App? Disclose It Strategically in 2024 (Tips & How to)

Explaining a misdemeanor on a job application can be approached with honesty and transparency. Provide a concise account of the offense, focusing on essential details. Accept accountability for your behavior, admitting to mistakes without trying to justify or excuse them.
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What is a Misdemeanor?

According to Forbes, a misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is less severe than a felony [1]. However, the classification of a misdemeanor can vary from state to state.

Generally, misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of a year or less in prison, but some states may allow longer jail terms. The specific statute defining the offense determines whether it is classified as a misdemeanor.

In some states, offenses with a maximum penalty of six months or less are considered petty offenses. Additionally, many states categorize misdemeanors into different classes or levels, such as:

  • Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year of imprisonment
  • Class B misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months imprisonment
  • Class C misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment

In contrast, felony offenses typically result in penalties that include more than a year of incarceration.

Can You Get a Job With a Misdemeanor?

You can still get a job with a misdemeanor offense on your criminal history. There are no federal law or state laws that prohibit people with a criminal past from securing employment. However, a misdemeanor conviction history might make an application process more difficult.

Certain misdemeanor convictions, especially those related to drug offenses, domestic violence, or DUIs, may make it harder to secure employment in specific fields like healthcare, counseling, or law enforcement. For example, Uber and Lyft have policies that disqualify drivers with recent DUI convictions.

In addition to potential employment challenges, having a misdemeanor on your record can also make it harder to find housing, get a loan, or manage finances. However, these challenges are generally less severe than those faced by individuals with felony convictions.

How to Deal With a Misdemeanor During the Job Application Process

According to SCLG, when discussing a misdemeanor on a job application or during an interview, it’s important to follow these guidelines [2]:

Do not lie – Your initial reaction might be to deny that you were convicted of a criminal charge. But a misdemeanor will likely show up when a potential employer runs a criminal background check. Your character will definitely get questioned if you are caught in a lie – SCLG.

  • Keep it brief: Provide basic information about the misdemeanor without going into unnecessary details. Long explanations can raise more questions.
  • Show growth: Highlight how the experience has helped you grow and become a better person. Explain what you’ve learned and how you’ve changed.
  • Provide references: If possible, include references who can vouch for your character and work ethic, showing that you’ve moved past the misdemeanor and are a reliable employee.

Criminal Record Employment Statistics

  • Approximately 70 million Americans, accounting for over one-fifth of the U.S. population, have a criminal record. Despite this significant portion of the population, 92% of employers conduct criminal background checks on job applicants. Surprisingly, only 12.5% of employers outright reject job applicants with a criminal record.
  • After release from incarceration, a staggering 60-75% of former offenders remain unemployed one year later. However, employers that have implemented ‘Ban-the-Box’ policies, which delay inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process, have experienced a 40% increase in job applicants with criminal records. This highlights the importance of such policies in improving employment opportunities for this demographic.
  • The consequences of unemployment for former offenders are stark. The recidivism rate among those unable to find work after release is 52.3%, compared to only 17.1% for those who secure employment. Despite the positive impact of employment, people with criminal records are 50% less likely to receive a callback or job offer than those without records.
  • In California, approximately 33% of non-violent, non-sexual felony convictions lead to employment loss or a reduction in wages. This demonstrates the lasting impact of a criminal record on an individual’s economic stability.
  • African-American men with a criminal record face even greater challenges, being 60% less likely to receive a callback or job offer compared to their counterparts without a criminal history. This disparity highlights the racial inequities present in the hiring process.
  • Background checks are a common practice among employers, with approximately 95% using them to make more informed hiring decisions. However, these checks can contribute to the economic impact of employment barriers faced by those with a criminal record, estimated at a loss of $78-$87 billion in GDP.
  • The cycle of incarceration and unemployment is concerning, as roughly 50% of felons are re-incarcerated within 3 years of their release, often due to difficulties in securing employment.
  • Certain sectors, such as healthcare, finance, education, and government, are particularly cautious about hiring applicants with a criminal record. This is reflected in the hiring practices of employers, with 38% considering the nature and frequency of the offense while assessing a candidate’s criminal history.
  • Despite efforts to improve employment opportunities for individuals with criminal records, challenges persist. Approximately 34% of employers admit to not hiring someone because of their criminal record, indicating that there is still work to be done to reduce stigma and increase opportunities for this population.

Source: Gitnux [3]

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References:

1. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/criminal-defense/what-is-a-misdemeanor/
2. https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/blog/how-to-explain-a-misdemeanor-on-a-job-application/
3. https://gitnux.org/criminal-record-employment-statistics/

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