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A criminal conviction can significantly impact your career

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | General Criminal Defense

Massachusetts residents facing a criminal conviction usually focus on the more obvious consequences, such as fines and jail time.

However, the impact on your career is an often-overlooked consequence of a criminal conviction. Your fines might be paid, you may have served your jail time or probation and be ready to move on with your life but find that you are unable to because your conviction is now following you everywhere.

Most employers perform a background check on potential employees that includes checking for any prior criminal convictions. This is easy to do with today’s technology.

This means almost all employers have access to information about criminal convictions, making it difficult or impossible for you to find a job or get back into a former lucrative career that you had to leave behind.

Laws to protect people with criminal records

Fortunately, Massachusetts lawmakers recognized how a criminal record was hindering its residents from finding a job or pursuing a career path.

The law now states that employers cannot consider your criminal record when you apply for a job. Additionally, there are requirements for how long employers can look back into your past at criminal convictions.

Employers can generally look back five years for misdemeanor convictions and 10 years for felony convictions.

Both these laws have exceptions. A criminal record can be considered if the crime involved a subject that would likely disqualify you from the position. If you were convicted of a crime involving financial fraud, you might be prohibited from working in the financial industry.

Additionally, the limit on the look back period may not apply to certain crimes. Usually these are serious crimes such as murder.

Tips for rebuilding your career

Even with these laws in place, there are many steps you can take to proactively address your criminal record when you are trying to rebuild your career.

Check your criminal record and verify its accuracy. Make sure there is nothing on there that should not be and that all information in it is accurate. For example, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor, confirm that it is not listed as a felony.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to expunge your criminal record. If you do not qualify for expungement, having your criminal record sealed is another possibility.

What to say if you must talk about your conviction

Prepare to still be asked about your criminal record sometimes. Although employers should not be asking about it, this does not mean they won’t.

When it is a job that you really want, or an industry you want to get back into, telling the potential employer they cannot ask about your criminal record could stop them from bringing it up, but you are not likely to get the job.

Therefore, a better approach could be to directly answer the question. Be honest about what happened and talk about any lessons you learned from the experience. Focus on the person you were when you committed the crime and the person you are now, ideally someone who has changed and is making better choices.

Bolster your new resume

There are things you can do to boost your credentials after your criminal conviction. Doing volunteer work or acquiring new skills can shift the focus to what you are doing now rather than your past.

Your criminal record should not haunt you for the rest of your life. The new laws, combined with some preparation, increase your chance of regaining your career and reputation.