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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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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