It’s common knowledge that a misdemeanor charge doesn’t look as bad on your criminal record as a felony. In most cases, once you’ve served whatever sentence was attached to the misdemeanor conviction, you’re free to get on with your life because, unlike felony convictions, misdemeanors don’t result in you losing some basic rights, such as no being allowed to own a gun.
The problem some people face following a misdemeanor conviction is they don’t know if they’ll forever have to report the conviction to potential employers.
The answer depends on the situation.
The first thing you should know about reporting misdemeanors when applying for a job is that your criminal background might not come up at all. Employers aren’t allowed to randomly conduct criminal background checks on applicants. Federal law stipulates that any employer who intends to gather criminal background information as part of the hiring process must first receive written consent.
When you read through the criminal background consent form, it should say if the employer is simply looking for felony convictions. If felonies are the only thing they’re checking for, it’s unlikely that your previous misdemeanor convictions will appear. However, if all the employer says is that they’re conducting a criminal background check, there is a good chance that they’ll learn about your misdemeanors, which stay on your permanent criminal record.
Just because you’re employer is running a criminal background check it doesn’t mean you’re legally required to tell them about the misdemeanor charges. You can wait to see if they inquire about them. However, it’s always a good idea to alert the potential employer to the situation before they conduct the background check, this gives you time to share your side of the story and indicates that you’re an open and honest person.
If you don’t tell the employer about the misdemeanor convictions be prepared for them to have questions about your criminal history if there is a follow-up interview.