Woman with Criminal History Given Second Chance by APS

By Michael Klazema on 3/9/2013

Ten years ago Cynthia Benavidez and her boyfriend were pulled over by APD for improper use of a license plate. After further scrutiny of the car, police found meth pipes. Further search turned up all the necessary materials needed to run a mobile meth lab inside their trunk. The original arrest ended with the felony charges dropped and Benavidez sentenced on misdemeanor drug charges. Today, Benavidez is working at an Albuquerque high school – Rio Grande High School - for the APS police department.

Benavidez’ employment at APS is not a case of poor background checks. The APS looks at all convictions and charges in a person’s criminal history to see the severity of the conviction as well as if it has anything to do with children. According to APS, Benavidez has not been in trouble with the law since 2004. In addition, the dismissal of the felony charges also played a large part in APS’ decision to hire Benavidez.

Benavidez’s case is not uncommon in Arizona. In fact, Kayla Anderson, a spokeswoman from the district attorney’s office, states that these plea deals are designed to give people a second chance and change their ways without having a felony conviction on their record. Most people are placed on a period of probation after the plea deals. As long as they follow the rules set forth during the probation period, the courts will ultimately dismiss the convictions. Of course, these plea deals are only given to defendants who have minimal criminal history and after they show acceptance for the offense they have committed. Even if the conviction is dismissed in court, ultimately these charges and arrests will still show up during background checks. APS carefully looked through Benavidez prior arrests and charges as well as her behavior and made the decision to give her a second chance.

Benavidez has been working for APS since 2010, and they state that she has been an excellent employee and has not caused any trouble since she started. New Mexico is one of the growing number of states that does not require a criminal history box on job applications. However, all public schools do perform the necessary background checks on all potential new hires. Benavidez’ case is an excellent example of how a criminal can reform into a model employee and private citizen. As evidenced, a criminal history does not necessarily negate a person from being able to perform in a work environment.

If your organization needs information to help vet employees, but you prefer not to rely exclusively on the use of criminal records to do that, there are still many other options you can put to use. For example, at, organizations like yours can get access to Reference Verifications, which can help you confirm personal qualities like character, integrity, and dependability. You can also use their Past Employment Verification or Education Verification to make sure the experience and education listed on their resume can be confirmed. In many cases, former convicts who are turning their life around will have records that show a positive pattern of behavior in recent years. By using verifications in addition to a criminal background check, you can get a more comprehensive picture of your applicant and a better idea of who you might be working with.

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



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