What Can A Potential Employer Ask Me About My Criminal History?

Posted over 4 years ago. Applies to Massachusetts, 9 helpful votes

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Employers Can Ask You to Disclose All Felony Convictions

Employers can ask you to disclose any felony convictions, regardless of the type of felony or when the conviction took place or the disposition you received. A felony in Massachusetts is any crime punishable by state prison time. Some common felonies are assault and battery dangerous weapon, larceny over $250, forgery, and possession with intent to distribute.

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Employers Can Ask You To Disclose Certain Misdemeanor Convictions

Employers may ask you to disclose convictions or periods of incarceration for misdemeanors in the 5 years preceding your employment application. However, employers cannot ask you to disclose FIRST convictions for the following misdemeanors: drunkenness, simple assault, affray, disturbing the peace, speeding and minor traffic violations. Some common misdemeanors are assault and battery, assault, larceny under $250, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, and first offense operating under the influence.

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What Is A Conviction? What Is Not A Conviction?

A conviction is when you have plead "guilty" or been found "guilty" by either a judge or a jury. A conviction would appear as a "G" on your CORI. Convictions include the following dispositions: guilty-filed, guilty-probation, guilty suspended sentence, guilty committed. A non-conviction is any disposition that is not a guilty. Non-convictions include dismissals, pretrial probations, and charges that were filed without a change of plea, continued without a finding or nolle prosequi.

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What Questions About My Criminal History Can't An Employer Ask?

Employers cannot ask you to disclose information about arrests, detentions, or any charges from which no conviction resulted. If you weren't convicted of it, you do not have to disclose it. This means that you cannot be asked to disclose charges that were dismissed, given pretrial probation, filed without a change of plea, continued without a finding or nolle prossed. Employers cannot ask you to disclose a conviction or period of incarceration for a misdemeanor that occurred more than 5 years before the date you applied for the job, unless you been convicted of any offense within five years immediately preceding the date you applied for employment. These prohibitions on what an employer cannot ask you come from General Laws ch. 151B, section 4, subsection 9. Employers also cannot require you to provide them with a copy of your own criminal record.

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Other Considerations

While employers are limited in what they can ask you to disclose to them, they can obtain the same criminal history information from other sources, such as a check of the public records kept in a courthouse. If you have a criminal record of any severity, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney to find out more about sealing your record. You do not have to disclose a sealed record to employers and the Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) will answer a non-criminal justice agency's request for a sealed record by stating, "No Record" (as opposed to "Sealed Record") .

Additional Resources

Law Office of Dominic L. Pang (617) 538-1127

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