Skip to main content

I was charged with shoplifting and took plea for 415. My company is performing a background check now. Can I be fired for it?

Pleasant Hill, CA |

I am in a IT job at a financial firm and never did anything wrong at work. Have a very good work ethic and always performed well and had been with the company for 2 years now. But the conviction is 5 months old. How should I approach the HR in regards to this matter? Should I state all the facts upfront and let them make the decision? Conviction was in 1 county and I live and work in another. This is my first and only offense.

Attorney Answers 3


The good news is that crime that you pled to is very minor and unlike a theft crime it is not a crime of moral turpitude. Moreover, as someone who was a DA for 13 years I know that a 415 plea means that the evidence against you was very weak. The main problem for you is that this happened 5 months ago. A lot of what will happen depends on your company's policies concerning criminal convictions. You need to know what your H.R.'s policies are and maybe consult with an employment attorney. You should also contact a criminal attorney to have your record expunged as soon as possible.

Mark as helpful

1 lawyer agrees


First, check your employment handbook to determine whether your employer has a "self-report" policy. Many employers do, especially those that engage in periodic backgrounds checks and those that employ persons with state and federal licenses and certifications, as most financial services businesses do. A "self-report " policy is a rule that requires each employee to report any criminal prosecution or conviction to the employer within a short period of time after the event. If the employee fails to comply with the self-report policy, the employer will terminate on that ground and will use that non-compliance as grounds for contesting unemployment benefits, usually successfully.

If your employer has no self-report policy, then you do not have an obligation to "approach HR" about this matter, although only you can determine whether in terms of the culture of your employment that would be sound action.

In the private sector, most employers have a general right to terminate an employee for any criminal conviction, but there are some exceptions. You say that your employer is a "financial firm," but that is not a clear description that allows much reliable deduction. Some financial services businesses have a policy of terminating all employees who are convicted of crimes; some will terminate only where the employee has responsibilities for management of client or firm assets; and some will terminate only where federal or state licensing and certifying administrative regulations require it. If your employer is one that bases its policy on state or federal licensing or certifying regulations, then it will not make significant difference that your plea was to P.C. 415 rather than theft. In those kinds of employment situations, it is the facts and circumstances underlying the criminal charge that are important to the employer (and to the licensing or certifying agencies), not the ultimate charge that was pleaded to. And, of course, financial services businesses inevitably consider theft and theft-related offenses to be very serious and closely related to the core-functions of the firm's business.

No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

Mark as helpful

1 found this helpful

1 lawyer agrees

1 comment



Thank you both for your response. My company was bought over by another company and now, they are the ones that are performing the background checks. I checked the employee handbook and they say that we have to report felony convictions and they say nothing about misdemeanors. If the new company is performing the background check, they would know abou my conviction so, is it better if I talk to the HR directly before they do the check and explain the situation and show my remorse?


Christina is correct, perhaps you should consult a local employment attorney with your HR rules.

My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced 39+ yrs. I can be reached at 213-819-1171. I practicein Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. I give only appointments over the phone., these services do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend as I do not believe in pulling punches or sugar coating the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ and I would appreciate it if you feel like marking my answers helpful or best. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are court documents , less expensive.

Mark as helpful

Criminal defense topics

Recommended articles about Criminal defense

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics