How a Felony May Affect Employment
Once you have plead guilty or been convicted of a felony, that conviction will remain on your record for the rest of your life. The consequences for a felony conviction reach far beyond any jail time or penalties you may have faced, as your criminal record is made available to potential employers and creditors. Many employers (especially medium to large corporations) are not willing to take a chance on an ex-convict; this can make it very difficult to find a job. For this reason, it is generally advisable to accept any job you are offered to start reestablishing your credibility.
As you are searching for jobs, you may be tempted to omit your criminal history on job applications or during interviews, especially if it has been a number of years since your felony conviction. Be aware that an employer may hire you based on what you choose to say, and may fire you based on what you choose not to say. If an employer specifically asks if you have been convicted of a felony and you lie to your employer, you may be fired for not being honest about your past.
Not only can lying on a job application get you fired from a job, but it can also make you ineligible for unemployment benefits. Remember, most employers conduct background checks on their employees and any criminal convictions will show up on that report. Therefore, it is best to be honest with potential employers.
While it is unethical to withhold information specifically requested on a job application, it is not unethical to withhold information that is not requested. For this reason, it is important to read job applications very carefully and only provide the information they request. For example, some job applications may ask if you have been convicted of a felony during the past five years. If your felony conviction was six years ago, you do not have to disclose that information since it falls outside of the time-period defined by your potential employer.
Being convicted of a felony will impact what types of careers you may pursue. Generally, licensed professions do not allow convicted felons to practice. Such fields include, but are not limited to, law and education. Also, depending on your crime, you may be required to register as a sex offender or narcotics offender. This information is very public and will prevent you from ever being employed in some careers.
If you are convicted of a felony while you are employed, you may be required to inform your employer. This is particularly true if you are in education or working with children. Since not all jobs require you to reveal felony convictions during your employment, it is a good idea to consult a criminal defense attorney before you freely offer such information. In some instances, it may still be a good idea to inform your employer of your conviction before they learn of it on their own. An experienced attorney should be able to advise you on whether or not you need to inform your employer and be able to protect your rights after you do so.