Posted: 04/23/10

People Seek to Clear Their Criminal Past

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As more unemployed people trying to clear their criminal records, more people are looking hard at getting their records expunged and trying to understand the rules about how long an employer can look back at their backgrounds (our background check faq can be helpful for these questions).

A horrible job market along with an employer’s ability to do personal background checks is causing more unemployed people to seek to clear their criminal records.

According to a November 2009 Wall Street Journal story, Michigan state police estimate that, in 2009, they expunged 46 percent more convictions than the year before.

Many Americans who came of age during the war on drugs are unable to check the “no” box on the question: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

Those convictions for minor crimes, often received during youth, are coming back to haunt people seeking a job.

Companies can—and do—make hiring decisions based on conviction records, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

But people who have their records expunged can legally answer “no” to the “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” question.

In Michigan, you can expunge your record unless you were convicted of a felony or an attempted felony punishable by life imprisonment, a violation or attempted violation of criminal sexual conduct or if you have more than one conviction. You have to wait five years from your conviction or your release from prison to apply to have your crime expunged.

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