Background checks mean different things to different people. For an employer, they are a valuable tool to be used in accordance with regulations to decide which applicants are the best fit for job openings. For job-seeking individuals who have made mistakes in the past, they can be a monumental barrier to seeking gainful employment and stability. The mere presence of a background check or questions about criminal history can be enough to deter even qualified individuals from applying for a position.
That is one of the key reasons laws to ban the box have cropped up across the United States, defining when and how employers can ask about criminal records to allow applicants a chance to make their case based on their qualifications. These laws are not universal, and many jurisdictions have no such restrictions in place. That does not mean individuals with non-violent criminal histories have no other options, however. For some types of arrests and convictions, there is another path: expungement.
Expungement is a court-ordered process which removes qualifying offenses from your record, making it like they never happened in the eyes of someone conducting a check. Not only are employers typically prohibited from asking about expunged records, but they will not appear on a criminal record report. As more individuals face trouble seeking employment or securing financing because of criminal records, municipalities have begun taking steps to educate the public regarding expungement.
In Vermont, two counties recently held clinics open to the public for assistance in beginning the expungement process for minor marijuana convictions such as possession. With the legal status of the drug changing rapidly and many marijuana convictions on the books, lesser charges are increasingly the target of expungement efforts. In Contra Costa County, the East Bay Times reported on a law enforcement event aimed at informing the public about opportunities to tackle misdemeanor charges on their record. A similar event took place in Kentucky.
For those who have made changes and moved on in life, this opportunity is often perceived as a second chance to move forward. Expungement does not apply to all records: violent offenses and most felonies are not eligible for this process. Laws about what expungement can cover differ from state to state.
Uncertainty about whether past offenses remain on one's record can be frustrating. Ordering a personal background check offers valuable insight into what employers will see if they run such a report. backgroundchecks.com provides individuals seeking assistance with the expungement process a clear path to understanding their options and, if possible, taking action.
MyClearStart is an independent service enabling individuals to input their information and receive an automated assessment of their potential eligibility for expungement. If this process determines your record contains eligible offenses, you can choose to partner with a lawyer and proceed with the case. As evidenced by increasing awareness and access, expungement offers a valuable second chance to many.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments