A criminal record is simply information that’s kept about a person’s arrests and convictions. State, local and federal authorities store and use them for many purposes. They can be used for identification and to locate possible suspects in unsolved cases. Courts can also use criminal records to determine sentences for crimes that are committed by that same person later on. Another use for criminal records, one that’s becoming more frequent in recent years, comes in the form of background checks, which we will look at later in this article.
So, What’s in a Criminal Record, Anyway?
Criminal records hold information only about crimes or arrests for crimes and don’t include traffic convictions. Here’s the good news: it’s possible to make your criminal record disappear. In some circumstances, you can ask to have your record expunged. In essence, this renders your record inactive, but the information continues to be accessible to law enforcement or government officials. If your record has been expunged, you can legally say that you have no criminal record.
The rules about expungement are different in each state. However, adult criminal records are never automatically expunged or sealed. In some states, expungement is not even an option. An expungement is most likely to be considered if the record in question contains a minor first offence. In order to get a record expunged, you must follow the procedure set up by your state laws to request that it goes through a court process.
Juvenile and Sex-Offender Records
When a child is arrested or convicted, the criminal record that is created is treated very differently than that of an adult. The consensus is that children should not have their juvenile record follow them for their entire lives due to mistakes that were made while they were young. Because of this, juvenile records are usually sealed once the person reaches age 18, as long as he or she has not committed another crime. Once sealed, the record remains in existence but is not available to anyone but law enforcement or the courts. This allows the young person to have a fresh start as an adult. However, if another crime has been committed, the record can be kept open.
There are times when a juvenile is tried as an adult, however. This usually happens when the crime committed is very serious, such as murder or rape. When a juvenile is tried as an adult, he or she is sent to a regular adult court. The court decides the case, and if there’s a conviction, it’s entered on the person’s record as an adult offense. For this type of record to be sealed, the person must go through the regular state process just as an adult would.
If a juvenile is convicted of a sex offense, just like an adult offender, he or she must register as a sex offender. A sex offense is a crime of a sexual nature (such as rape, sexual assault, inappropriate touching and so on) in which the victim can be a minor or an adult. Juvenile and adult sex offenders are treated differently than people who commit other crimes. A sex offense goes on a criminal record, and in addition to this, he or she must register with the state sex offender registry. The information about the crime is sent to the registry, and the convicted person must inform the registry of any changes in address after he or she is released from prison.
How Does A Criminal Record Affect Job Opportunities?
One thing to remember is that you can be discriminated against because of your record. You can be refused a job, excluded from public housing and in general treated differently because of a criminal record. The only exception to this is that a person who has a felony for drug use may not be discriminated against because of that conviction.
A potential employer can ask you about your criminal record if you’re applying for a job in which a record presents a concern. The employer can access your criminal record (with permission) through a credit agency or private firm like Brevard Background Check. You can deny permission for a record check, but doing so is a red flag to the employer. In general, if you’re asked about having a record, it’s best to offer the information yourself and try to give an explanation when possible.
If you’re applying for a job and your record presents a problem, it’s possible to obtain fidelity bonding. This is essentially an insurance policy that protects the employer against any loss you might cause. You can purchase this type of bond yourself or obtain it through a community rehabilitation program or the Federal Bonding Program.