The reason people choose to seal or expunge their arrest records is because they want to be able to legally deny their arrest when they apply for a job.
In a bad economy when there are more applicants than there are jobs, employers will not hesitate to deny employment to anybody with an arrest record. Even if the charge or charges were dismissed.
So what do you do?
The first thing you need to do is get your record cleaned if you can. Click here to determine whether you are eligible to have your record sealed or expunged.
Florida law is very strict when it comes to sealing or expunging your record. If you do not meet 100% of the criteria, you will not be able to clean your record. Determine your eligibility before you spend money hiring an attorney.
If you can seal or expunge your record (know the differences because the processes are not the same), then you must decide whether you can legally deny your arrest.
Some agencies, even industries, are permitted to know about a sealed or expunged arrest. Click here to find out who may see a sealed or expunged arrest record.
Okay...so now that you know whether you can seal or expunge your record, you understand the difference between the two processes, and you know who is statutorily entitled to sealed or expunged information, you need to know what to put on that job application or say in that job interview.
Provided the employer is not entitled to expunged or sealed information, your record has been sealed or expunged by the court, and the arrest that you have sealed or expunged was your ONLY arrest, then you may be able to legally deny having ever been arrested.
If you have other arrests on your record even though you sealed or expunged one arrest (which you can do provided you are eligible), you must disclose the other arrests but you may still be able to legally deny the sealed or expunged arrest.
If you have never sealed or expunged any arrest, you may have to disclose them provided the employer asks.
Common employer questions are:
1) Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
2) Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
3) Have you ever pleaded guilty or no contest to a criminal offense?
4) Have you ever been placed on probation for a criminal offense?
5) Have you ever entered a pretrial diversion program for a criminal offense?
These questions are only common questions. Private employers can ask anything they want regarding your criminal background. They may also conduct criminal background checks to see a prospective employee's criminal record.
NEVER LIE ON A JOB APPLICATION OR IN A JOB INTERVIEW!
I assure you. Nothing will guarantee that you will not be hired more than dishonesty on an application or during an interview. And if you are hired and the employer later determines that you lied, you will be fired.
Even if you have a criminal past, many employers are willing to look beyond your mistakes if you are otherwise a good candidate. Perhaps you come highly-recommended, your job history is outstanding, and your arrest was years ago. Even if you pleaded guilty to a serious charge, you may still be hired. Just be honest about it.
But I urge you to answer only what is asked. You don't necessarily have to volunteer information, but if asked and if you know that a background check is going to be conducted, you may want to come forward to let the employer know what they will find.
Otherwise, if you only have one arrest and it has been successfully sealed or expunged, you may be able to legally deny it and it should not come up in a background check.
I wish you luck in your job search, and if you are looking to seal or expunge a criminal record in the State of Florida, call me.