Do you legally have to report past crimes on work applications? 26 Answers as of November 20, 2010

Am I legally obligated to report all past criminal activity on a job application even if it was a nonviolent offense and I took care of it over 15 years ago and have done nothing wrong with the law ever since? How would they even know?

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The Barrix Law Firm
The Barrix Law Firm | Jason Barrix
The term legally needs to be defined. If you fail to make a truthful work application and the employer finds out that gives them cause to terminate you immediately. Also if you sign under oath or certain positions such as government jobs could have other implications.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/20/2010
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
The reality of it is that people don't disclose such things every day and it's usually fine. It obviously depends on the job you're applying for - the FBI would probably find out, a fast food restaurant not so much. You should get the offense officially expunged. You are STILL supposed to disclose it even after an expungement but people seldom do.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/19/2010
Timothy J. Thill P.C.
Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
There is no legal obligation to file your past record with employers, however, they have ways of checking your background, and if they found out about your background, they will probably fire you once they find out about the criminal background.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 11/18/2010
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
They usually hire a firm to do a computer check. You have to report convictions of any age, but not violations that are not crimes. There is no penalty for lying, but they might catch it and not hire you. We can get the conviction overturned sometimes for $2,000 or a bit less, but that is not always possible.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 11/18/2010
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
There is no legal obligation to be honest on any application as long as it is not under penalty of perjury. But if you are not it is grounds for termination.

If you need help getting the record expunged call us at
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/18/2010
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    No. But, employers are entitled to ask. If you lie, you will be fired for lying upon discovery when they do their normal criminal and credit background check. Every competent employer does those checks. Records are forever; that is the consequence of violating the law.

    However, many felony and misdemeanor convictions [not infractions] can sometimes be expunged by proper application and Petition to the court, but only if there was no prison time served or even sentenced and reduced to probation, if it was not for certain sex and Domestic Violence crimes, if all terms of sentencing and probation [and at least one year of probation] are completed and finished, and if there are no new charges pending. If successful, the conviction would be retroactively reduced to a misdemeanor and then withdrawn and the charges dismissed. That does not remove the conviction, but merely changes the record to show conviction reversed and dismissed by expungement. If expunged, you would be able to say no to conviction on most private employment applications. However, the conviction is still a prior for purposes of repeat offense, and must be disclosed on any application for government and professional licensing, bonding, security clearance, etc. The licensing agency and employer then can decide whether you are barred from licensing and employment because of your conviction. If you are serious about doing this, and you think you qualify, feel free to contact me for the legal help you will need.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
    First, let me say that I am licensed in Missouri only, and I assume you are located in Missouri as well.

    Unless you are under oath when filling out your application (or the application itself is for a federal/state job and/or states that it is illegal to lie), it is generally NOT a crime to lie on an application. That being said, you would certainly be fired if they found out you lied.

    There are various ways that an Employer could learn of your criminal history. There are a variety of background search companies that can access certain law enforcement records. Generally speaking, they will not have access to your arrest records. Therefore, if you were arrested but never charged, they are unlikely to find the arrest. If you were actually charged, they are more likely to find it.

    Outside of these background search companies, anyone can check Missouri's online court case website: You can find two types of criminal cases on CaseNet. 1. Crimes for which you were actually convicted. This includes crimes for which you were sentenced to pay a fine, sentenced to jail or prison, or given a sentence but placed on probation (SES - suspended execution of sentence). 2. Any pending cases. While you are on probation - even SIS probation - your case will show up on CaseNet.

    I suggest reading the question very carefully. If it asks "have you ever been CONVICTED of a crime" and you only have an SIS, you can truthfully answer "no."
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Law Office of Cotter C. Conway
    Law Office of Cotter C. Conway | Cotter C. Conway
    You are not legally obligated to divulge to a potential employer that you have previously been convicted of any crime (i.e. you will not be charged with a crime for failing to divulge such information on a job application). However, the employer can terminate employment if he or she discovers that you failed to provide criminal history where it had been requested on the job application. Your criminal history would be readily available on any background check. It does not matter that the prior offense was a non-violent offense and over 15 years ago. The best advice would be to have that prior offense expunged. It can take about 5 months but the result will be a sealed record and you would never have to divulge that you had previously been convicted of a crime. Contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    The Law Office of Matt A. Stockdale, PLLC
    The Law Office of Matt A. Stockdale, PLLC | Matt A. Stockdale
    If the job application asks for criminal convictions, you would need to list all convictions that apply (regardless of how long ago they were). Most employers do background checks and they would show up on a background check. If you did not list the conviction and then it shows up on the background check, it would appear as if you were trying to be dishonest.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Law Offices of Philip P. De Luca
    Law Offices of Philip P. De Luca | Philip De Luca
    If a job application asks for criminal convictions, you must disclose them, as most job applications require you to provide information that is truthful, under penalty of perjury. In most job applications, there is a statement you sign indicating that if the information is later found to be incorrect, that this is grounds for immediate termination.

    Review the job applications carefully. Most ask for convictions, some ask only for felony convictions, some all convictions (including misdemeanor) and some ask for all "arrests".

    My recommendation would be that you seek expungement of any old crimes, which involves withdrawal of a guilty plea, entering a not guilty plea and having the matter dismissed, pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4, et seq. Once this occurs, you would no longer need to disclose existence of the conviction on a job application, however, there are limited circumstances where you would be required to disclose the same, e.g., if you run for public office; and law enforcement would still have access to the fact that there was an old conviction.

    I have been successful in cleaning many of my clients old criminal histories, respectively, so they do not continue to carry this baggage. If you need any further information or assistance, please do not hesitate contacting the undersigned. Thank you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Background checks can turn up prior arrests and prior court cases pretty easily. Some employers are more concerned with whether you are honest with them than whether there is some minor prior criminal offense. If you are being truthful, you should disclose the prior offense.

    If the prior offense was completely dismissed (like after a successfully completed deferred sentence) or if it is a minor drug offense, you may be able to 'seal' the record which would delete all public references to it and make it so you did not need to disclose it on an application. An attorney should be able to tell you, after a short investigation, whether your case can be sealed.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Jackson White, PC
    Jackson White, PC | Jeremy Geigle
    Instead of worrying about lying on an application, why not take care of that 15 year old crime by motioning the court to set it aside and cleaning up the past record. If the crime were committed as a juvenile, Arizona law allows for complete expungement under certain circumstances. If the crime was committed as an adult, the felony record may be set aside and therefore no longer is there a conviction on the your record. Honesty in employment applications is always the best policy - although you may sneak one by in the short run, it will catch up with you and worse you have compromised your integrity.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    You are only obligated legally to be truthful when you swear under oath of penalty of perjury to do so. Otherwise you are not obligated to. However, lying on a job application can have its own consequences such as not getting hired or fired later on when they find out you lied. They could find out through background checks, public records, or through first-hand knowledge of someone that knows of your past. I would advise you to be very careful before covering up anything on a job application because it usually comes back to haunt you. Best of everything.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    If done under pain of law yes, otherwise no. You will run into the crime showing up on a background check and losing a job you gained based on the lie you told.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    It is not a legal requirement but you will likely lose your job if asked about convictions in the job application and you lie. Employers can do background checks and discover criminal convictions, they are a matter of public record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Generally, I guess you would agree, you should answer truthfully. And in some cases, e.g. federal employment applications, it might even be an offense not to answer truthfully. Also, if a criminal history check is done, it may very well reveal the information any way. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    It depends on how bad you need a job now versus how bad you will feel if they ever discovered that you lied on your application.

    If the question on the application is: Can you think of any reason that management might consider you a questionable candidate (without there being any mention on the application about prior arrests or convictions)? Then you can answer "NO", and defend that answer by explaining that the offense is non-violent and many moons ago.

    Conversely, because employment attorneys and insurance companies construct most job applications, the questions on the applications are have you ever been arrested (if you have had handcuffs on and were booked into the jail you were arrested) and/or have you ever been convicted (pleading guilty or being found guilty after trial, even though you ONLY pled because you got tired of coming back and forth to court is a conviction).
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    No, there is no legal requirement but if it is on the application, such disclosure is obviously a requirement in applying for the job and failure to do so could be a basis for denial or discharge if it were later discovered.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    The Connelly Firm P.C.
    The Connelly Firm P.C. | Thomas Connelly
    You must answer truthfully or you are likely committing another crime. Whether you may answer truthfully that you have "no convictions" depends on whether or not the conviction was expunged. In Pennsylvania, there are only very limited grounds for expunging convictions. If you were arrested but not convicted, the arrest record may be expunged, but until expungement, arrests and criminal convictions are visible to employers by virtue of a public docket search or a search of the state or FBI database. Finally, most employers are more worried about crimes of dishonesty (i.e. theft) than about the day you had a little too much at the bar and scuffled with the bouncer. In order to give you a precise opinion as to how you may "legally" answer the job application, I would need to see the document itself. Please email it to me
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    If they ask you the question on the application, you should answer honestly. A employer can run a background check to determine whether there are any convictions in your past. If you fail to disclose something even something so remote, you will definitely not get the job. Better to disclose and explain how remote the conviction is.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 11/18/2010
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    There is nothing that legally requires you to report convictions. However, you can certainly be terminated for falsifying an application or you can be denied employment based on a conviction that is directly related to your employment.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/17/2010
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    You can shut up about it but most companies today require that you sign a waiver letting them get to your record. Also with google and all the other info floating around on the internet there is a good chance they will find out. You are probably be better off fronting the truth to them then lying and having them find out. This would be a perfectly acceptable reason not to hire you. Have you ever had the record expunged? Was it a felony that was reducible to a misdemeanor?Give me more info so I can better assist you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/17/2010
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    Did you get the charges expunged? If so, you don't have to report it when applying to a public company. If you lie on the application (ie. do not report it and it is not expunged) they can do a background check and see it on your record. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about getting it expunged, and handling it for you should you decide to pursue it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/17/2010
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