This page includes information on finding employment after a felony conviction. Finding a job is difficult with a felony conviction, but you may qualify to have your felony cleared in some circumstances. To see if you qualify for felony record clearing, take the free online eligibility test to see if you qualify. If you are ineligible to have your felony cleared, you can find information on finding employment after a felony conviction below.
More than half a million people in the United States are being released from prison each year. These people face numerous obstacles on their quest to obtain employment. Post-incarcerated individuals’ struggles arise in large part due to their imperfect criminal record; even an arrest for a felony not resulting in a conviction remains on one’s criminal record and may cause problems in obtaining certain jobs. As such, most people attempting to enter the job market after successfully serving their felony sentence are constantly being re-punished.
By law, employers are not required to make individual determinations and inquiries; employers may deny a potential applicant based solely on his or her criminal record. There are at least three reasons why employers perform background checks. First, there are certain professions that are closed to individuals with a felony conviction through statutory prohibitions. For example, if the profession requires licensing, individuals with a felony conviction may be disqualified from obtaining the license and consequently turned down for employment. Some examples of professions requiring licensing are: accountants, ambulance drivers, attorneys, barbers, contractors, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, real estate agents, and teachers. Further, individuals with a felony record may be barred from entering the Armed Forces. Lastly, more and more employers carry a common misconception that a lack of a criminal record equates to good moral character. With these reasons in mind, it is no surprise that for many, the likelihood of obtaining employment depends on whether or not the employer performs a criminal background check.
Fortunately, the process of expungement offers a way overcome hiring discrimination. Expungement is the sealing or obliterating of a rehabilitated individual’s criminal record. A person seeking an expungement carries the burden to demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that he or she is ready to re-enter and be a beneficial member society. Expungement gives hope to people who suffer discrimination based upon their criminal past because once a criminal record is expunged, it is sealed from the public. Most states authorize the person who has had his record expunged to deny that his criminal record ever existed. Expungement typically extends to all agencies that have a record of the incident: the court, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Police Department.
Each person wishing to clear his or her record should contact an attorney specializing in record clearing. Record clearing attorneys understand that a rehabilitated individual’s criminal record is an obstacle to obtaining gainful employment; this obstacle serves as additional punishment. For those being released from prison, contacting such an attorney should be one of the first steps on the road to a better life.
Another thing to research is whether your state or county provides tax benefits or any incentives to employers who hire people with a criminal record. Educate yourself on these options and make sure any potential employer is aware of them.
There are also organizations that specialize in helping people with criminal records join the workforce. The help ranges from giving professional advice and training to actually connecting people with potential employers. Below is a partial list: