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Can a prospective employer ask if I've been arrested for a felony or only convicted? Private employer, state of Texas

Dallas, TX |

I'll be working in for-profit higher education and have access to FERPA-protected info and Title IV financial info. I was arrested for felony theft resulting from a misunderstanding with a former employer. Must I, should I, broach the subject with the potential employer?

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Attorney answers 3


A prospective employer can ask if you have been convicted or arrested. These are not violations of the law and are factors many employers take into consideration before hiring someone.

Theft is considered a crime of moral turpitude and many people with these convictions have a difficult time getting hired.

Don't let your conviction get you down. Stay focused and keep looking for a good job. There are many jobs out there that you can attain.


Erick Platten


Employers can ask whatever they want about criminal records. You need to disclose it because it will be found on a background check. Be sure you are answering accurately because different employers ask different questions. In other words, if it only asks if you've ever been convicted and you were on deferred probation, you can answer no.

I recommend you look into whether you are eligible for a non-disclosure yet, which seals the record.

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I agree with my colleagues, but would add that you have to be very diligent in reading the phrasing on the actual employment application. Most applications do not ask whether you've been arrested, rather they ask whether you have received deferred adjudication or been convicted of a crime (misdemeanor or felony). If your case is still pending then, you have not received deferred adjudication or been convicted of a crime of any kind so you can honestly answer no. Caveat: When the potential employer pulls your criminal history, though, they may still see the pending charge because arrests can show up on background checks even though the charge has not been resolved.. Hopefully the potential employer will provide you an opportunity to explain the situation before using it against you. If you want the opportunity to clarify the situation, then I would suggest you being up front with them and having a solid response that you have prepared and practiced in front of others beforehand. However, if the case is still pending, you will have to consult your attorney to make sure you are not making statements that could affect your ability to defend yourself against the pending charge.