In recent years, states have taken great leaps in crushing the stigma of convictions and arrest records. Over 150 cities and counties have jumped onboard with ban-the-box or fair-chance policies. The goal is for employers to look at a job candidate’s qualifications before looking at a criminal record. Background checks occur later in the hiring process, after employers carefully consider job applications.

Fair-chance policies

11 states have also extended their fair-chance laws to private employment, which includes:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Connecticut
  • Washington

Three-fourths of the U.S. population lives in a jurisdiction that bans the box. Many employers understand the benefits of hiring individuals with criminal records. However, felonies still majorly impact employment.

Consequences of a criminal history

Both misdemeanors and felonies can affect the job search process, often years down the road. It is difficult to completely erase any stigma. Some employers are unwilling to move forward when a prospective employee holds a criminal record.

At the end of the day, most employers do background checks that go back several years. A felony may prevent someone from entering a variety of occupations, such as law, finance, insurance or working with children or the elderly.

Despite the recent increase in policies, having skilled defense when dealing with the criminal justice system is important. There is always a chance for charges to lessen or be dropped completely. Too much is on the line to not take action.