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What will show up in a background check if my felony was originally dropped to an infraction?

Ventura, CA |

I was brought to the police station on allegations of embezzlement. After my lawyer negotiated, they agreed to give me the infraction charge of Disturbing the Peace and drop the embezzlement charge. What will show up if I were to get a background check for a government job? Also, will my termination with my previous employer show?

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Attorney answers 4


I can't speak to the termination by your previous attorney, but... as to the first issue, the answer is "it shouldn't, but it might." For one thing, it will depend on whether you were ever booked on felony charges in the first place. If you were never booked on those charges then there's no way it could show up. If you were booked, and it got reduced later, things get dicier. I get calls all the time from people who have background checks completed and the information comes back erroneous, out of date, incomplete, etc. The background check company/investigator invariably blames the county for the incorrect reporting. You should be prepared to establish that it was only an infraction by providing a court docket, possibly a certified docket.
Your previous lawyer should be able to help with this.

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History, unfortunately, is history. A well-motivated employer can learn of many historical events, including felony charges that were reduced to an infraction. That said, most employers use one of several publicly available background check companies who do a reasonable but not insanely deep check, finding convictions for the most part.

The termination from a prior employer is generally not itself discovered, but the fact that you had the entity as an employer is pretty easy to find.

It is not a good idea to lie on employment applications. Doing so will insure your immediate termination once the lie is discovered, and if you are ever illegally treated by the company, its lawyers will go insanely deep and discover you lies, leaving you perhaps without a valuable claim you otherwise would have had.

Good luck to you.

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If you are applying for a federal government job...
1) don't worry about what will show up because if you do an SF 86 it will ask you if you have ever been charged with a felony. If you were charged, even it it was reduced, you were charged so it must be listed

2) don't worry about what will show up because if you think you will game the system and lie depending on the position and the materiality you can be debarred for federal service completely for three years by lying about it

3) for federal jobs you are required to report your termination on employment forms for the federal government. If you don't list it on the OF 306 and your SF 85/86 you are making false statements and if they determine that you can be banned for a three years as above.

So to recap don't try and game the system if it is for federal jobs becuase you will certainly lose that game. Suitability is about character and conduct and if you lie on the forms it tells a lot about your character and the fact you don't want to work there.

This is for general information only. Nothing in this information should be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship nor shall any of this information be construed as providing legal advice. Laws change over time and differ from state to state. These answers are based on California Law.Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. You should not act upon the information presented herein without consulting an attorney about your particular situation. No attorney-client relationship is established.


Order up your own CA Dept of Justice criminal history record and your NCIC (FBI) record, too, rather than guess about what will show. Use Google to find a nearby Live Scan outlet for your State record. See FBI website for instructions about obtaining that record.

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