Utah Helping People with Criminal Records Find Jobs

By Michael Klazema on 2/20/2013

For many people who have a criminal background, finding good, steady employment and even housing can be difficult due to background checks that companies perform. Millions of dollars are spent on reforming criminals to become working members of society, but upon entering the workforce, they are met with many barriers. In Utah, lawmakers are now looking at refining the process of expunging certain criminal records from people's past. The current process is complicated, redundant, and costly for many of the applicants.

In 2012, Utah lawmakers studied issues around the expungement of drug-related offenses. This would allow a specific number of drug-possession felonies and misdemeanors to be eligible for a pardon from the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. This would have the same legal effect as an actual court ordered expungement. Some crimes, naturally, cannot be expunged, such as capital murder, first-degree and violent felonies and registerable sex offenses. With around 700-800 applicants who wish to clear their criminal history, it takes around 10-12 weeks for the applicant to even learn if they are eligible to proceed with the rest of the process. There are also limits as to how many expungements a person is eligible for based on type and number and a waiting period before applying. For drug offenses, the wait time used to be 10 years, but the new bill would drop it to 5 years. The timeframe for other crimes has not changed: 7 years for eligible felonies and 3-5 years depending on the classification of misdemeanor offense. This would help people who wish to turn their life around have a better chance at getting a job without having to worry about their background check.

The current process is very costly and redundant. The applicant must follow a five page checklist where the victims, prosecutors, Adult Probation and Parole, and judges weigh in on whether to grant the expungement or not. It appears, however, that there is little to no uniformity in the forms between courts, leading to an overwhelming amount of paperwork for the applicant. On top of the paperwork, there is also a $50 application fee and $56 charge for a certificate stating that each crime is eligible for expungement. The expungement itself costs $179 for each crime. These fees can add up, and for people who have been unable to find employment because of their background checks, these fees make it prohibitively expensive to clear their records. Even if they receive a full and unconditional pardon, claimants must still go through the entire expungement process in order to clear their record.

The new bill would not change the process or which crimes can be expunged. Instead, it will "recognize the board's authority to forgive a criminal past, ending what is now a duplicative expungement process and reducing expenses for those who get a pardon." This will hopefully streamline the process for those applicants who have turned their life around and are seeking gainful employment as almost all jobs require a background check of some kind.

Although this process could potentially remove the records of many criminals from public view, businesses would still be able to rely on products from such as the US Offender OneSEARCH, because sex crimes cannot be removed. With this tool, companies would be notified of any sex-related convictions on an applicant’s record no matter where in the U.S. it took place. They can also still use the US OneSEARCH tool, which accesses more than 450 million criminal records across the nation, to look for violent crimes and other non-expungeable offenses that might make a potential employee a danger to their clients.

About - - a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and cofounder of the Expungement Clearinghouse - serves thousands of customers nationwide, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies by providing comprehensive screening services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with an Eastern Operations Center in Chapin, S.C., is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit



Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 20 Employers who use E-Verify must follow the proper steps and procedures when they receive a “tentative non-confirmation notice” from either the Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security. Failure to follow the proper procedures can cost employers both time and money. 
  • March 20

    Four Department of Commerce employees are out after their background checks resulted in security clearance denials. All four had worked high-ranking positions for months despite incomplete background checks.

  • March 15 As more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, they contend with the emergence of new industries surrounding marijuana cultivation and production. 
  • March 14 In most cases, it is easy to determine where an issue might show up on a pre-employment background check. Citations for traffic violations or reckless driving charges will appear on a motor vehicle record check. Verdicts in a civil court case will show on a civil court background check. And criminal convictions—from petty theft to violent felonies—show up on criminal background checks.
  • March 13 How many years back do employment background checks go? This question can have multiple different answers depending on the situation.
  • March 13 A new bill in Florida would require landlords of apartment complexes to present tenants with verifications of employee background checks to give them peace of mind the people working in and around their homes are trustworthy.
  • March 08 Police officers working with the University of Texas at Arlington recently arrested a man who had avoided police capture on a warrant out of Oregon for nearly two decades. The man, whose real name is Daniel Charles Ray Hanson, spent those 17 years using a variety of fake names and identification documents to move around the country, often engaging with educational institutions under false pretenses. Police say Hanson regularly went by at least three different aliases. He sports a rap sheet that stretches back to an arson conviction in 1995. 
  • March 07

    The Future of EEOC Guidance in Texas Is Up in the Air

    The EEOC issued guidance in 2012 warning employers about the dangers of enforcing categorical policies to bar candidates with criminal histories. That guidance is not enforceable in Texas thanks to a recent court ruling.

  • March 05 Vermont is the latest state to restrict employers’ access to and use of social media accounts of employees and applicants. 
  • March 01 In an age of "industry disruptors" turning established business models on their heads, companies such as Uber and Lyft rely on a unique workforce of individuals outside the traditional employer-employee context. Uber calls them "partners" while other businesses refer to them as "independent contractors," the official classification these individuals use for tax purposes. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revealed they had warned a business, Postmates, for misclassifying their staff as independent contractors. In the NLRB's determination, these individuals were employees.