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What is a MO employer legally allowed to ask about an applicant's criminal record on an employment application?

Springfield, MO |

An applicant answers "NO" to the question "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" but a background check reveals otherwise. The applicant indicates he answered the question truthfully because he had been charged but not convicted and he "has a lawyer working on it." Do we need to change the wording of our question?

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Attorney answers 3


Yes. you did not ask the right question.

NEVER describe your facts in an online forum. I have CONFIRMED there is at least ONE county prosecutor that is a member of this site. My statements are my opinion solely based on the information provided, and that opinion can be wrong if your facts are different than what I believed them to be. If you have any further questions, you can contact me at 636-532-1400 or through my website


If the charge is still pending, meaning it has not gone to trial or the defendant has not entered a plea of guilty, then there is no conviction on that case.

If the defendant goes to trial and is found guilty or enters a plea of guilty, he can receive a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS), which is also not a conviction. I bring this point up because, if the applicant has previously pleaded guilty to a felony but received an SIS then he has not been convicted of a felony.

I'm not sure you can legally ask about pending cases so I would contact an employment law attorney on that issue.

If the applicant has a conviction other than the charge is he speaking about then that, too, is another matter entirely. An unresolved case and an SIS are not, in any event, convictions.

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It sounds like he has a case pending??? That means it could turn into a conviction, or a jail sentence, or a dismissal, or a not guilty verdict, etc. They are allowed to ask the question you referred to. You just have to be careful how you answer it. It sounds like you answered it the right way because you have not been convicted of anything (assuming it is a current charge working its way through the process), but almost all cases that are "working their way through the system" in State court are going to be accessible to the public and almost all employers through Missouri's casenet system. Therefore, you need to be able to explain yourself to a potential employer about the situation.

Anthony Muhlenkamp - 314-725-7777;, Frank, Juengel & Radefeld, Attorneys at Law, P.C. Feel free to call or email me for a free consultation. However, please be advised that answering questions on this webpage is done to provide general information only and that by responding to a question we have not established an attorney client relationship. In order to establish such a relationship we would need to meet in person and go over more details of your case. Thank you.

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