Do I need to disclose a conviction that is almost 40 years old when applying for a job? 38 Answers as of July 19, 2011

I was convicted of possession of drugs and given prison time in 1972. Do I have to disclose this after 39 years? Is there a time limit on how far back a potential employer can check? Can that be held against me for a non-sensitive job? Do I need a lawyer to get rid of it?

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Law Offices of Scott Tibbedeaux
Law Offices of Scott Tibbedeaux | Scott Tibbedeaux
It really depends on the type of background check the employer does. Remember, all convictions are generally public record. Some employers have access to a much more extensive background report than others. There are self-help centers that deal with expungements and if that is not adequately then go to a lawyer for assistance.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/19/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
Generally, there is no time limit for employer to ask if you have ever been arrested or convicted. You should hire an attorney to try to expunge the conviction.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 7/5/2011
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
Thank you for your inquiry Yes, this type of conviction will show on a backgound check If you do not disclose it, then you may get fired or not even hired based on lying on your application I hope that this was helpful.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 7/5/2011
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
1. You cannot get drug convictions expunged
2. It never goes away; it will always be on your record such that the public can find it. 3. In some circumstances (eg federal job applications), the failure to disclose can be considered a crime. In other situations, it is simply a lie that they could use to fire you later if they find the conviction.
4. It is probably worth performing a background check on yourself to see what shows up.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 7/1/2011
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
Many convictions can be 'expunged' from criminal records, but only if there was no felony prison time sentenced whether served or not. Unfortunately, that means you cant get yours expunged. Such records are forever. If asked about convictions, you could lie, but would be immediately fired if and when they check your record. Disclose it and persuade you have been clean for decades. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/1/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You cannot have a record expunged in New York and it will be on the computers until the end of time. There is no time limit and the record check goes back to the day you were born as the law assumes that fetuses cannot commit crimes.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    If it asks and you fail to report it you are going to be looked at as a liar and not likely to get the job.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    You may wish to speak with a lawyer about seeking an expungement of that conviction from your record. Otherwise, if the application asks whether you have been convicted of a felony, and the conviction was a felony, then yes you should disclose it. Falsifying a job application can lead to termination. Having disclosed it, you may be able to explain the situation and how you have changed your life since that time.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Cannot get rid of a conviction when you went to prison. Disclose is required if directly asked by governmental employer. Some companies ask for only a certain time period in the past. Some people just "forget" and do not mention it. You might contact an attorney and see if you qualify for a certificate of rehabilitation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    It's too bad you have suffered with a felony conviction for 40 years. You could have had it vacated and dismissed after ten years. The good news is you can get your felony wiped off your record and even get your firearms rights restored. That means you could also vote and hold public office and you could truthfully say that you have never been convicted of a felony. Once that is done, employers won't see anything on an employment screen. Whether you need attorney depends on your ability to comprehend the law and your own ability to be persistent.. What you want to do involves multiple forms. Most of them can be downloaded from the Courts website. There are instructions and if you have the Chutzpa you can make them work. There is a $300 filing fee for the records clean-up and an additional $300 filing fee to regain your gun rights. I charge a flat fee of $2,800 , excluding the filing fees to get you from start to finish. IF you live in Southwest Washington, feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    Unless annulled you should disclose. It can be annulled 7 years after all of the consequences are finished. RSA 651:5. People can get annulments without a lawyer, the only problem is if the petition is screwed up the state makes you wait for an additional three years. There are also filing fees involved. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    First, it depends upon whether you live in NY or not. If you do, unfortunately, you will need an attorney to seek to get "rid of it" and it may or may not work. Because it's so long ago, it will likely be expunged now. Otherwise, it can adversely affect you with employment opportunities. I suggest you speak to an attorney right away and inquire further. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    On a job application, you should correctly answer the question asked. If there are no time limits for the question, then a proper response to a question about past criminal convictions would be to admit to the conviction. Some jobs will take into consideration the time since the crime, others may not. You should be able to get the conviction expunged if your state allows it. You should consult with an attorney experienced in expungements.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    A conviction from that far back in unlikely to be able to be used against you criminally to enhance another crime based upon your arrest. It may remain on your record indefinitely, however, if you do not take specific action to clear it. You may want to consider hiring a criminal defense attorney to assist you in filing an expungement to have your record cleared. This is something we handle on a regular basis for clients in the Louisiana area, and we invite you to contact our firm at the information on this page for a free case evaluation if you are located within our jurisdiction.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. You may have to disclose it if asked. You do not need a lawyer to "get rid" of it because you can't get rid of it. You can only try to explain it away as a youthful indiscretion. Please note the following necessary legal disclaimer: I have not given legal advice. I only give advice to my clients. I am not acting as your attorney. I have not yet agreed to represent you. Anything I have said is based on limited information and may be subject to change as more facts become known. Attorneys express opinions. Attorneys often disagree. If you want further information or independent verification of anything I have said then you should immediately consult another attorney. Never sit on your rights! I am admitted to practice law in New York State only and cannot practice law in any other State.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    This is a combined law question. I'm unable to answer your employment law questions (do you have to disclose the conviction, time limit on how far an employer can search, whether can be held against you). In Colorado, convictions can only potentially be sealed, they cannot be purged or expunged. I recommend contacting an attorney where you live for specific answers to your questions.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    It could easily been cleaned off your record if you have been crime free for decades. You dont have to disclose it unless they ask you. AS for how far back they can look, that depends on who is doing the looking.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Offices of Karen Kilpatrick
    Law Offices of Karen Kilpatrick | Karen Kilpatrick
    Yes, unfortunately they would be able to see that on your record if they performed a background check. Plus, if they discovered you lied on the application, they would likely terminate your employment. You can't seal or expunge a conviction, but you may want to consider a pardon. The pardon process is lengthy (about a year or so), and your record still exists after you are pardoned (but you can request that the committee allow you to seal the record as well). If the pardon says on it's face you can seal the record, then you would be able to have it removed. Hopefully, the conviction is old enough to not deter anyone from hiring you.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Michael Moody
    Law Office of Michael Moody | Michael Moody
    You should go to any police station and ask them to run your criminal record, just to see if it's still there. Prospective employers typically don't go back further than 7 to 10 years. Of course, if they've asked you to disclose a prior criminal conviction and you don't, then it would be grounds for dismissal. Bottom line, they probably won't find it on their own.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    There is no limit on the time frame an employer may check for a criminal record.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    If the application asks you to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Flores & Lopez Law Firm
    Flores & Lopez Law Firm | Joe Lopez
    unfortunately, since you were convicted and served a jail sentence you can not expunge this case. however, this happened a long time ago... with that said, not disclosing the charge, and if it's on the record they pull up will seem as if you're trying to hide something which they will question your character and truthfulness.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    All convictions, regardless of how old, should be disclosed. There is no time limit on any conviction as a criminal record is a permanent record.There has been an expungement bill and a non-disclosure bill pending in the Alabama legislature for the past several years that is yet to be passed. If this bill was to be passed you might be granted some relief.If your civil rights have not been resinstated that is the next thing you need to consider. If the expungement bill is passed it would probably only apply to persons who have had their rights reinstated for the past five years. (The local State Probation office handles the application for reinstatement of civil rights)
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    What does the job application ask for. you must be honest. its the dishonesty that gets you in trouble. if you get it seal that's different. get a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Douglas Holbrook Criminal Defense Attorney
    Douglas Holbrook Criminal Defense Attorney | Douglas Holbrook
    Unfortunately, criminal convictions do not just go away with the passage of time. You should consult a lawyer in the jurisdiction of the conviction to discuss how to have the conviction expunged.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    For a conviction that old, I think you're safe to not disclose it. Certainly there is no physical file anymore and I doubt it would even show up on anyone's computer short of the FBI. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    It stays on your record forever. That is why it is a good idea to hire a lawyer to have it expunged.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    Technically, a felony never goes away unless it is "sealed, purged or expunged." In Colorado, some drug offenses are now eligible for "sealing." You should contact an attorney to see if your offense qualifies. I do record sealing for $975 including the court filing fees.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    If the employer asks about arrests, prosecutions, convictions, probations, etc., and does not put a time limit on the question, then you should consider disclosing it. If the company does a background check and finds the prior conviction, then you will be proven to be dishonest and probably won't get the job. That said, if this is in Texas and the company uses an outside company to conduct the background check, then the outside company is prohibited by law from reporting offenses older than 7 years. Makes no sense but it is in the Civil Remedies Code. (If the conduct their own criminal history check, they can discover and consider it.) Because it is a conviction, it cannot be taken off your record. At least in Texas, the only avenue for removal that you would have would be to apply to the governor for a pardon.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Yes the conviction is still on your record and the employer can fire you or refuse to hire you if you don't disclose it. See a lawyer about getting it expunged if possible.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    You may be able to seal that record- go to a lawyer for help, but it will still show up on your record if a background check is done.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    If you've been convicted of a crime at any time in your life, and you want to lawfully say that you have never been convicted of a crime when filling out an employment application, you should get your conviction expunged. You serving prison time tells me that you were convicted of a felony. Most felonies may be dropped to a misdemeanor by a 17(b) motion. That misdemeanor may be dismissed by way of a 1203.4 motion. A 1203.4 essentially requests the Court to allow an individual to withdraw their plea of guilty and enter a plea of not guilty. If there is no objection by the District Attorney's office, your case will be dismissed and you can say you've never been convicted of a crime. If you have not violated the terms of your parole and have not violated any laws since your conviction date, you are likely to be successful in your expungement. This is assuming your conviction can be 17(b)'d and expunged. Reference the Penal Code to help you determine this.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    If the question is "have you been convicted of a crime" the truthful answer is "yes" regardless of how old it is. You cannot expunge a conviction in NY State.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Wallin & Klarich
    Wallin & Klarich | Stephen D. Klarich
    If you went to prison you are not eligible for 1203.4 petition. Expungment. You would only qualify for a certificate of rehabilitation and/or governors pardon. You may have to disclose when asked if the application itself asks for all convictions with no time limit. Ie. Have you been convicted in last 10 years?? as an example Certs of rehab and pardons look very good on your record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC | Raymond J. Savoy
    A conviction remains on your record unless you apply for and receive a pardon.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    Of course there is no time limit on honesty. If they ask you oh you have EVER been convicted I don't think you really need a lawyer to tell you what your obligation is. However after 15 years from a felony and 10 years from a misdemeanor you can have your record sealed in Massachusetts. There are several legal guides online that can direct you and if you want some direction I would be glad to tell you how to do it yourself with no charge from me. You can reach me.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Potential employers can ask whatever they want when it comes to criminal records. Yes, it is up to them whether or not to use your criminal past as a negative factor in hiring you, even if it is decades old. You are not really "required" to disclose this information since you are not filling out a job application under penalty of perjury, but keep in mind if they find out through a background check they will hold the fact that you lied about it against you more than had you been honest and upfront. If you haven't been in trouble with the law for almost 40 years, I can't imagine that being held against you. Most applications only ask about crimes committed in the last 10 years or so. You are eligible to get it expunged as long as you have nothing else on your record (including misdemeanors) and the charge did not have a potential life sentence. You can seek out an attorney that does expungements for more information.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/29/2011
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