It depends. If you’ve been to prison or convicted of a crime, you may want to clear your record. Finding a job after prison can be hard, and cleaning up your record can help. You may get your record sealed or expunged. But, once you get an expungement, you’ll ask what to do on a job application where it asks about your criminal record. Some people with a criminal history check the “yes” box and admit they have a record. Others check the “no” box and hope for the best. But they all face the same question: Should I tell my employer about my expunged criminal record?
What is an expungement?
The American Bar Association (ABA) defines “expungement” as “the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal record.” You request an expungement from a judge. If the judge grants your request, the clerk of the court erases or destroys your record. In this case, an expungement does get read of your criminal record.
However, the question whether expungements really work is complicated. This is because, even with an expungement, there are still ways to find out your criminal history. People can find this information on social media, with Google or even on news websites. While this information isn’t “official,” people can still use it in whatever way they choose. This includes employers.
Nowadays, employers are using other companies to do background checks. These private investigation companies can find even sealed and expunged records. This means that, even after an expungement, an interviewer may know your criminal record, even if you don’t think they do.
That leads to the question: Should I check “yes” or “no” when the job application asks if you have a criminal record? Or, more simply, should I tell my employer about my expunged criminal record?
Can you check the “no” box on a job application?
Whether you can check “yes” or “no” on a job application is a complicated question. In general, there are no laws that make you to answer “yes” after an expungement for most private companies. Instead, you can answer “no” because the old conviction no longer exists on your record.
However, the employer might still find out about your conviction. While it’s possible that you can explain why you answered “no” to them, those conversations can be tough ones. You’ve earned your expungement and have a clean record. You deserve to be proud of that. But the employer might still worry about your past and how you answered the question.
There are also some jobs where you should still answer “yes” — even after an expungement. If you apply for a government job, for instance, the employer might have access to your record. This includes the government jobs you’re probably thinking of. Examples include working for a police department or a juvenile detention center. But it also includes other ones such as teaching jobs, too.
There are also a lot of jobs that need special licenses. To get those licenses, there will be a background check. And that background check is almost always good enough to find your criminal history. This is true even after they’re sealed or expunged. These could be jobs in law, pharmacy, medicine and many others.
If you get an expungement, you’ll ask yourself a question. Should I tell my employer about my expunged criminal record? The answer depends on the type of job you have. But you need to know that many employers can find your criminal history. And this is true even if a court seals or expunges your record.