Misdemeanor Convictions: Do They Ever Just Go Away?
Misdemeanor convictions show up on background checks. Although a Misdemeanor is a very low-level offense, having a conviction on your record will prevent you from getting a job & getting into school. This article will help you find solutions to this problem.
IntroductionMisdemeanor convictions get in the way of many people’s lives.
In the world of crime, a Misdemeanor is a minor offense & a Felony is serious. Many cases start out as felonies but end up as a lesser charge.
For more on felony convictions, try reading:
NJ Felony (Indictable) Charges: 5 Steps To Start Fighting Back
How To Know If You Have A Misdemeanor On Your RecordDifferent states have different names for “misdemeanor”, but at the end of the day it’s mostly the same.
For example, a misdemeanor in New Jersey is called a “disorderly persons” offense.
Other states refer to them as Class A, B, or C misdemeanors.
Now, you want to know if a misdemeanor conviction will up and vanish on its own?
Let’s discuss it.
One Dumb Mistake Has Become A NightmareIf you got arrested for stupid crap and wanted the case to be over quickly, then you probably didn’t fight your case. You just paid a fine & moved on.
As a result, you plead guilty to a misdemeanor (a disorderly persons offense in NJ) and soon learned what a mistake it was.
You may have been told that it’s “no big deal”.
“Just plead guilty, pay the fine and be done with it.”
The problem is that a misdemeanor conviction goes on your record and doesn’t go away on its own.
In the majority of states, you have to wait for a certain period of time before you can expunge it.
For example, in New Jersey, you have to wait five years before you can get your misdemeanor record cleaned up.
My Misdemeanor Conviction Won't Let Me WorkYou inevitably learned about your misdemeanor conviction after your first interview.
The job that you desperately wanted was within reach.
The interview was smooth. A job offer was on the way.
Next thing you know, they conduct a background check on you.
Within minutes of your interview, your potential employer discovered a disturbing thing about your past.
When you were 19 years old you were arrested for a tiny amount of weed. And now, no one will hire you.
Soon, this would become a pattern.
Every job you apply for conducts a background check.
As a result, someone else got your job.
Part I - Misdemeanor Convictions Don't Go AwaySorry to break the bad news but misdemeanor convictions will stay on your record unless you do something about it.Misdemeanor go away
You have to check with your local jurisdiction, but for the majority of states, a background search will show that you have a criminal conviction.
However, some states still follow the “seven-year rule”.
For example, Texas does not allow reporting of criminal convictions more than seven years after disposition, release or parole.
New Jersey’s expungement process allows a person to “erase” their disorderly persons conviction after five years from the date of conviction.
In addition, all fees, fines and penalties must be paid prior to applying.
If you are brave and would like to file your own petition, here’s the kit:
Expungement Petition – New Jersey.
Part II - You Need To Expunge Your Criminal RecordIdeally, you should hire a criminal lawyer to help you with this process.
The criminal attorneys at our firm handle a ton of expungements.
An expungement involves completing & submitting a lot of paperwork.
The court fees are not expensive. Less than a hundred bucks.
However, the certified mailing fees add up and the process can take from 6-9 months.
The county prosecutors office will return your expungement paperwork if it contains errors. If you’ve never done it before, chances are you’ll make mistakes.
Since criminal lawyers represent clients charged with crimes, they’re familiar with their local rules regarding expungement eligibility.
Think of it this way: You may have made a mistake by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge, but don’t make a mistake when it comes to cleaning up your criminal record.
To help you find a good criminal lawyer, we’ve written this guide for you:
Criminal Lawyers: Why We Need Them & How To Choose One
Be HonestIf your misdemeanor conviction is getting in the way of life, you have options.
You may have to wait a few years to expunge your misdemeanor conviction and you may have trouble finding a job.
However, this doesn’t mean that you will never find a job.
Many of our clients were successful in obtaining employment despite having a misdemeanor conviction.
Here’s a helpful tip to help you with your job search:
Discuss the Misdemeanor Conviction Openly
If you know that your job will perform a background search, then notify them ahead of time. If your potential employer is going to find out, it’s better for that person to hear it first from you.
Employers are human too. Perhaps they got charged with marijuana in their life & won’t judge you for having been caught either.
Your best chance of surviving a background check is by being honest.
By bringing it first, it won’t come as a surprise.
At least, in this way, you’ll have a chance to explain it. You’d be surprised how much people value honesty above history.
Some misdemeanor convictions are worse than others.
For example, a misdemeanor conviction for shoplifting is worse than a misdemeanor conviction for public intoxication.
Shoplifting is a “theft” offense. And employers really don’t want to hire thieves for obvious reasons.
If you got a misdemeanor conviction for public intoxication, it’s not as bad as a theft defense. A theft defense like shoplifting raises concerns about your “trustworthiness”. Public intoxication does not.
These are all game-time decisions but employers value honesty and transparency above all else.
Final ThoughtsMillions of people have misdemeanor convictions on their record and they decided to do something about it.
The first step is to conduct your own background search on yourself. You may be worrying about a record that you don't have!
Second, if you discover that you do have a criminal record, find out if enough time has passed to get it expunged. If yes, then get an expungement.
If not, then be honest with your employer.
You really have nothing to lose!