Criminal Convictions and Job Applications

Criminal Convictions and Job Applications for Employment. A Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney’s Prospective.

As criminal defense attorneys | lawyers, we have discussed job applications and employment more times than we can count.  For those presently employed, the answer often depends on whom you work for and what the conviction was for. If you work for a large company like Microsoft or Boeing, the answer is in the Employee Handbook. Expect background checks to be done frequently for those companies who require security clearances (especially Boeing), less so with subcontractors. If you work for a small company, the consequences for a criminal conviction depend on how often, if at all, background checks are done.

If you applying for a job, it all depends on what question was asked on the application?  Interestingly enough, Seattle recently passed an Ordinance that prevents job applications from asking about criminal history; however, the law has no teeth, as a criminal background check can be done anyway without asking.

How do I answer a job application questions about Criminal Conduct?

The short answer.  Every Criminal defense lawyer worth his or her salt will tell you that the correct way to answer any question depends on the question. Experienced criminal defense attorneys listen carefully and quietly, like owls, to the words of a question before divulging any facts. You should practice this same habit when filling out job applications.  If an application asks have you ever been “convicted” of a crime and you completed a Stipulated Order of Continuance that never resulted in a conviction, the answer is no.  If the question asks have you ever been “charged” with a crime, the answer to this same question is yes. Answer the exact question accurately.  If you have had your misdemeanor conviction vacated  or a felony expunged you can answer no to being convicted of that crime for purposes of State employment.

The long answer. Sometimes how you disclose something can be as important as whether you disclose something. What if you have a criminal conviction and believe you will not be employed if it is disclosed?  What if prudence dictates you should proactively disclose information so that parties find out about it on your terms? Choosing the correct way to disclose information is not an exact science and often does not necessarily lend itself to “correct” answers.  We have seen clients with a serious felony convictions not disclose them and get 6 figure jobs, we have seen employers overlook serious felonies when proactively disclosed, we have seen people fired upon conviction or discovery of a conviction 2 years into employment. As criminal defense lawyers | attorneys, we have seen a wide variety of responses to facts, cases and convictions.  Though honesty is the best practice if possible, the best answer is to take the time to discuss and weigh the facts and situation.

Over the course of lengthy careers, our criminal defense lawyers | attorneys have handled a wide variety of complicated cases in the criminal and administrative legal arenas. Our office is a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know cases are rarely as simple as the police reports or accusations claim and our clients hire us because they want trained listeners who are staunch, uncompromising and effective counsel who take the time to fight vigorously for the right result. Whether acting in our role as counsel, advocate, negotiator or litigator, we have years of experience manipulating, working and fighting to resolve cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.