| Read Time: 4 minutes | Misdemeanors

Some reports estimate that as many as 1 in 3 Americans have been arrested at some point in their lives. For many people arrested for a misdemeanor, there is a real concern about whether this misdemeanor will affect their employment prospects now or in the future.

This article explores the effect of misdemeanor arrests and convictions on employment, and what can be done to reduce the impact of these charges for a person’s current or future jobs. 

Do Misdemeanor Affect Employment? 

do misdemeanors affect employment

Yes, a misdemeanor can have serious consequences on your employment prospects. This can be especially true if you hold a professional license or want to obtain one in the future. Many Arizona licensing boards require you to report certain misdemeanor charges to the Board.

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The Board may investigate those charges and take corrective action against the license holder, including suspending the person’s license to practice. 

Note: A misdemeanor charge or conviction does not by itself guarantee that you won’t be able to get a job you want in the future. But it can be an important consideration and something that is in your best interest to take very seriously.

The Vast Majority of Employer’s Screen for Criminal Backgrounds

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, 97% of respondents to the survey conducted some form of criminal history check in their employment screening process. 

Many job applications will also ask applicants whether they have been convicted of a criminal offense at some point. 

Being convicted of a criminal offense will not by itself guarantee that you won’t be able to find a job. Much depends on the criminal conviction itself–what type of crime was it? As well as what type of job the applicant is seeking. 

For example, a misdemeanor DUI conviction will likely have the greatest impact on jobs that involve your ability to drive. A person who holds a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), a conviction for a DUI will result in the revocation of your CDL for 12 months. Obviously, if your CDL is revoked, you will likely lose your job because you will be unable to drive without your CDL. 

Misdemeanor’s Effect on Professional Licenses

Many professional licensing boards in Arizona require a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor to report the conviction to the licensing board. State licensing boards review the criminal records of existing members and applicants to determine whether the individual should hold a professional license. 

Other licensing board’s require fingerprint clearance cards to be eligible for employment. The conviction will show up on the security clearance check, and if this results in a denial or revocation of your security clearance, it can have devastating implications for your employment.

Health Care Professional Licenses 

ARS 32-3208 requires a health care professional or an applicant for licensure as a health care professional in Arizona to report to the licensing board any misdemeanor charge (i.e., not just conviction) if the misdemeanor may affect patient safety. This must be done within 10 days after the charge is filed. 

Once this report is received by the Board, the Board may conduct an investigation into the health professional’s criminal conduct. The Board may also deny the application of a person seeking to become licensed as a health care professional if they fail to report their criminal charges

A Conviction Can Have a More Serious Impact on Employment than an Arrest 

There is a significant different in how a misdemeanor conviction can be used by an employer as opposed to merely an arrest. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal employment laws, “An individual’s arrest record standing alone may not be used by an employer to take a negative employment action” because an arrest is not proof that a person engaged in criminal conduct. However, at the very least, a conviction will be enough to confirm that a person engaged in particular criminal conduct. 

Somebody who has merely been arrested for a misdemeanor may benefit from a criminal defense lawyer who can help prove you innocent, or work to get your charges reduced or dismissed. This can often be done through plea negotiations with the prosecutor and can often result in complete case dismissals. And depending on the circumstances of your case, an attorney may also be able to secure an acquittal after a trial. 

How a Set Aside Can Help After a Misdemeanor Conviction

If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor already and are worried about how it can affect your ability to get a job, it may also be worth your while to consider applying for a “set aside” of your criminal conviction. 

Arizona law does not have a method to completely expunge your criminal history from your record so that it will disappear from employer background checks. Instead, ARS 13-905 provides a mechanism for a court to set aside your criminal conviction. This does not happen automatically. You must apply for it with the court that convicted you of the crime. The result, if granted, will be to have the conviction “set aside” so that it will appear on your criminal record as a dismissal. 

If you are asked by an employer whether you have been convicted, you will still have to answer “yes” but you can also elaborate that the conviction was later set aside. A set aside, in essence, provides a stamp of approval from the court that you completed the terms of your sentence successfully and that your conduct since the conviction has shown that you deserve a to have the conviction dismissed. 

This can go along with in showing an employer that, essentially, the court believes the conviction does not define you as a person. And neither should they.

Author Photo

Stewart Salwin

Stewart Salwin is the founder and lead attorney at Salwin Law Group, a criminal defense law firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona, just outside of the greater Phoenix area. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, where he was taught criminal law by world-renowned defense attorneys.

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