Employment applications and professional licensing applications almost always ask whether you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. This is when that mistake you made in your early 20s can come back to haunt your professional job search. What can you do?
It may be possible to seal the judicial records, which contain the criminal history information. Once a criminal history is sealed, you may lawfully deny or leave any arrests covered by the sealed record off an application.
Marijuana possession on the beach
One youthful decision that results in a criminal drug possession charge can follow you for years. As a first offense you may have received a withheld adjudication, completed the sentence and forgot about it. Even if the charges were declined or dismissed, they may still come up on a criminal record check.
Sealing the records can provide a clean slate. As the job market continues to be tight with many applicants for each position, you should be proactive. How do you start?
If you are graduating from college or a professional degree program this spring, you should get started immediately. The process can take several weeks.
The petition to seal a criminal history record must include:
- A sworn statement and
- Certificate of eligibility.
Each of these must be completed properly or your request will easily be denied by the court. Some offenses do not qualify for sealing. Similarly, if you were found guilty for actions that stem from the arrest you would not be eligible. You cannot a request to seal records, if you have one currently pending in the court.
The certificate of eligibility for sealing is valid for 12 months. To obtain this document, you need to submit a certified copy of the disposition and pay a fee. You may also need to have your fingerprints taken.
Don't let a past mistake ruin your future. There are many steps to seal a record and one misstep can send you back to square one. Attorney James M. Burns can help you with the process, so you wipe the slate clean before starting your first serious job search.