Clearing the Misconceptions
Having a criminal record is a liability. It can hold you back and cause others to judge you. Thus, it's important to clear up some common misconceptions about criminal records so you better understand what is on yours, who can see it, and what they can do with that information.
- A background check company can pull up a record of every crime you've committed.
For-profit background check companies do not have a central database from which to pull your criminal history. Every jurisdiction will have its own database, but no private company can access every database in the country at one time. If you have criminal convictions in different states, there is a chance a background check company in your state might not come across the history of an arrest in another state. So, when employers or landlords run background checks through one of these companies, they might not see every run-in with the law you've had.
- Your criminal record won't include traffic tickets.
Background check companies often use a blanket approach to compile criminal histories. They cast their net wide and display whatever comes up. In many cases, this means even small violations of the law, such as traffic tickets, can show up. While traffic tickets aren't considered criminal convictions in the traditional sense, they are nevertheless proof you broke the law. The good news is most people will ignore simple traffic tickets when scanning your background check.
- Everything drops off your criminal record after seven years.
This is a misconception that catches people off guard. Many people assume that, like your credit history, everything bad will drop off after seven years. In reality, a background check can still display crimes you committed prior to the seven-year look-back period. First, not all criminal convictions drop off your record after seven years.
Second, not all background check companies update their databases regularly. So, if someone runs a background check on you and sees a conviction from eight years ago, it could be because the screening company they used hadn't updated its database of criminal records. For this reason, it's always a good idea to run a background check on yourself before you let someone else do it. Errors on background checks are not uncommon; so beat them to the punch, and correct errors before it's too late.
- Any felony on your criminal record will result in job, apartment, or loan denials.
Not all felonies are automatic red flags. For example, you could be charged with a felony for having or selling American bald eagle feathers if you are not a Native American. Many people who are charged with having a bald eagle feather weren't previously aware of this obscure law. Thus, landlords, employers, and lenders may not deny your application due to this type of felony. A felony will hold you back in life, but it's not the end of the world. If you have a felony conviction, we strongly recommend you look into reducing it to a misdemeanor and potentially getting it dismissed, so it will drop off your record. Speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney who handles recording cleaning. You might be only a few steps away from having your felony charge removed from your record.
- There's nothing you can do to change your criminal record for the better.
While it's true some convictions will always remain on your record, there are still steps you can take to clean your record. As mentioned above, the court can reduce some felonies to misdemeanors. Many misdemeanor convictions can also be dismissed from your record. And some juvenile records can be sealed and destroyed. Cleaning your criminal record may be possible. If you're worried about how your criminal record can hold you back, speak with an attorney today.
Living with a criminal record can be hard. But there are many protections in place that help those convicted of crimes move on with their lives successfully. From employment protections to record cleaning, you can take proactive steps to clean your record and move on with your life. Speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney about your options if you want to clean your record and clear your name.
If you are facing criminal charges, take action before it's too late. Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in Tulare, Fresno, or Kings County. Experienced in criminal defense and record cleaning, our Visalia area legal team can help you fight your charges and clear your name. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and won't be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.