Updated: Dec 17, 2019
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, more than 73 million Americans had a criminal record as of June 2017. In addition to convictions, this data also includes felony arrests and some misdemeanor arrests.
Most criminal background checks only look for convictions, not arrests, but this still affects millions of people. If you've been convicted of a crime, do you know how it can interfere with job searches? What about renting or buying a home or applying to college?
Looking for a Job Historically, those who have served time have faced a tough road when it comes to finding work. So-called "ban the box" laws now attempt to give ex-convicts a more level playing field when it comes to job applications. The legislation doesn't prevent employers from conducting background checks, but often makes it unlawful for employers to ask about criminal records on applications.
Renting or Buying a Home The good news is your criminal record does not show up on credit reports. This means that if you want to buy a home, your criminal record shouldn't come into play. However, if you're looking to rent, landlords often run background checks and convictions could affect your chances of finding a place to live.
Applying for College Misdemeanor and felony convictions often mean college is off the table, whether it's because of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) questions or college admissions guidelines. Like the "ban the box" movement, a "beyond the box" effort is trying to increase access to higher education for everyone.
Adjusting for the Future One way to keep convictions from affecting your life is to have your criminal record expunged or sealed, which means the record is no longer available to the public. If you'd like to explore your options, a competent defense attorney can help.