Can You Work for the Government if You Have a Criminal Record?

If you’re like many people, you’re not sure whether you can work for the federal or state government if you have a criminal record. This guide explains.

Can You Work for the Government if You Have a Criminal Record?

It is absolutely possible to work for the federal or state government when you have a criminal record. Generally, the fact that you have completed a sentence and paid your dues for committing a crime is enough for the government. That’s true whether you were sentenced to probation, jail or prison. However, that’s not true for all jobs; some jobs are legally unable to be filled by people convicted of certain crimes.

However, you may wish to have your criminal records expunged or sealed before you apply for government employment. That’s true whether or not you need a public trust investigation or a security clearance investigation. Usually, expungement and sealing are about keeping your personal business to yourself.

Related: Can people look up expunged criminal records?

What if I Need a Security Clearance but Have a Criminal Record?

It is possible to get a security clearance when you have a criminal record. The process will likely be more difficult than it would be if you didn’t have a record, but people who have criminal histories are able to obtain security clearances every day.

The key to getting a security clearance when you have a criminal record is to be completely honest on the forms you must fill out, as well as with the investigator who questions you. With that said, there are some crimes that will likely disqualify you from getting a security clearance. However, the United States government is required to look at the “whole person” during security clearance investigations – it doesn’t judge a person by one or two mistakes in their past.

Do I Have to Mention My Criminal Record When I Apply for Government Jobs?

Most government job applications don’t ask questions about your criminal history. However, if the agency you apply to would like to offer you a job, you’ll be required to fill out certain forms that may ask. In many cases, you’ll also have to submit to a background investigation so that the government can ensure that you’re suitable and fit for employment (even for jobs that don’t require a security clearance). If the government asks you about your criminal history, you should be completely honest, even if your records are sealed or expunged; that’s because if the government catches you lying, your chance of employment drops to zero.

Related: If my record is expunged, who can see it?

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Expungement or Sealing?

If you’re tired of your criminal past coming back to bite you, we may be able to help. Call us right now at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below so we can talk about your case.

Need Help? Reach Out Now.

"*" indicates required fields