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What Effect Can Criminal Records Have on Employment?

Criminal convictions are public record, as are some other types of criminal records. When you are applying for jobs, you can be certain that potential employers will dig through your history and conduct thorough background checks to look for any criminal history.

What effect can you expect these records to have on your employment prospects? Let’s take a look.


Convictions are public record and include any plea, verdict or judgment of guilt regardless of whether you received any criminal penalty. This includes “no contest” pleas. The information is easily accessible to employers performing background checks. There are some circumstances in which employment decisions based on convictions can violate federal law, but in most cases, employers can consider a criminal history when making hiring decisions.


Arrest records also include any records of arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction or guilty plea. Most states bar employers from asking questions about arrests, and decisions made on the basis of arrest records without convictions could be considered discriminatory. However, employers may ask if applicants or employees have been arrested pending trial, and they can use that information when making employment decisions.

Expunged records

Expunged convictions must be treated as though they never occurred, which means employers are prohibited from denying employment to or taking adverse action against anyone on the basis of expunged convictions. This is why it is so important to seek an expungement if you are eligible.

To learn more about having criminal records expunged in Pennsylvania, speak with skilled Reading criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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