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Will a Misdemeanor Affect Getting a Job?


What Classifies a Misdemeanor and How It Can Impact Your Future

The three basic classifications of criminal offenses are infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Infractions are petty offenses that can potentially lead to fines, but no jail time. While a misdemeanor is considered a crime, it is considered less serious than a felony. Some of the most common misdemeanors in Texas include:

Derek A. Adame, Attorney at Law is a trusted, hardworking criminal defense lawyer who can provide legal support for those who are facing these charges and more. If you are seeking legal defense, give us a call at (940) 441-4239 or contact us online for the help you need.

Misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to three months in jail and fines of up to $1000, but most misdemeanor crimes are punishable through probation, rehabilitation classes, fines, and community service. If you are a first-time offender, it is more likely that your punishment will be less severe. For many people who are charged with a misdemeanor, the main concern is not the actual punishment for the crime, but the other consequences that can come from it.

For example, if you are interested in joining the military, and you accrue multiple misdemeanors, you might need to apply for a waiver. An applicant for enlistment in the U.S. Army who has received multiple civil convictions or other adverse dispositions for a misdemeanor typically requires a waiver, which must be approved by the recruiting battalion commander, acting commander, or executive officer. If you have been charged with a felony, you can submit a waiver as well, but it is less likely that you will be approved.

Some domestic violence misdemeanors and drug convictions can also prevent you from purchasing a firearm. When you fill out your application to purchase a firearm, in a form that is called the 4473, one of the questions asks if you use or are addicted to “marijuana or any other depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.” You could answer no to this question with a misdemeanor drug charge. However, the conviction would still appear to the FBI during a background check for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. At that point, it would be the reviewer’s decision to determine whether or not the conviction points to addiction.

Will You Pass a Background Check with a Misdemeanor?

About the 7-Year Rule in Texas

Those with criminal convictions can find some relief in knowing that Texas employs a 7-year rule. The 7-year rule is a federal law from the Fair Credit Reporting Act that controls the way background checks are used for hiring purposes. The 7-year rule allows employers the security they want in the hiring process, while giving those who have made mistakes in the past the second chance they deserve.

The limits of this rule are cut-and-dry when it comes to credit reporting agencies. These agencies can only acquire information seven years into the individual’s past. Therefore, the agencies most employers use are limited by the 7-year rule as well. There are exceptions to this standard, however. For example, insurance companies and jobs that have a yearly salary of $75,000 or more are allowed to check the applicant’s background as far back as age 18, which could have been longer than 7 years ago. Employers for state and local government jobs can look as far back as the applicant’s 18th birthday as well.

If the misdemeanor occurred in the last seven years, it is likely that the conviction will come up during a background check, but this does not necessarily mean your potential employer will rule you out. Whether or not they choose to move forward with your employment will depend on their own hiring process as well as the particular type of job. For example, fields like law enforcement, caregiving, and education require more disclosure when it comes to these matters. Generally, a misdemeanor conviction is easier to look past than a felony conviction, even in these fields.

If you are worried about a misdemeanor appearing on your background check, it is wise to be honest about the conviction and the situation in which it happened. It is possible to put a positive spin on the conviction, ensuring your future employer that you learned a lesson from the instance. There is also some hope that you will be able to have the misdemeanor expunged in the future. If you were convicted with a serious misdemeanor, you must wait two years before applying for an order of non-disclosure. On the bright side, many misdemeanors are eligible for record sealing immediately. This involves petitioning the court for expunction as provided for in Section 55 of Texas Law on Criminal Procedure, and it helps to have the knowledge and guidance of a criminal defense lawyer like Derek A. Adame on your side while you start the next chapter of your life.

Whether you are facing misdemeanor charges or want to learn more about how a misdemeanor charge can affect your life, Derek A. Adame, Attorney at Law is here to provide the legal guidance you need. Give us a call at (940) 441-4239 or contact us online to access our trusted criminal defense services today.

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