How long will that felony conviction haunt you?
While it might seem like forever the next time you apply for a job, how long will that felony show up?
Will a felony still show up after seven years?
Let’s take a look at this.
Running a Background Check
Of course, you are thinking that employers are doing a background check just to see your criminal past.
Actually, one reason they carry out a background check is to verify the information you have put on your application.
Background checks are also run because many resumes include false information and employers want to know the truth.
Mostly, employers are just trying to hire qualified applicants as well as someone who is a good fit for their company.
Felonies are among the most serious crimes and often involve violence.
They include such offenses as murder, arson, fraud, and armed robbery among others.
Being convicted of a felony does create a permanent record.
This means that employers, landlords, banks, and law enforcement can see these records at any time.
Since there is a permanent record, will that felony still show up after seven years?
This question is addressed by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
What Is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law passed in 1970 to regulate collecting individuals’ credit information and accessing their credit reports.
It was intended to regulate the fairness, accuracy, and privacy of all personal information contained in the files of credit bureaus.
This has become the standard for how long information is allowed to remain on your record.
The FCRA allows felony arrests to be reported on background checks for seven years after release from prison.
Felony convictions can be reported as far back as the employer chooses to go.
Because the FCRA advocates that only conviction information from the past seven years can be used, many believe that after seven years all felonies simply fall off your record.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
There is a permanent record of all your convictions no matter when they occurred.
Employers typically only focus on the most recent seven-year period.
This time period may be used because of the sometimes questionable relevance of what happened more than seven years ago for a current job position.
The most relevant information would be contained within the past seven years.
This allows for rehabilitation efforts and a person’s current lifestyle.
You may have made mistakes in the distant past, as we all do, that don’t accurately reflect what you are like today.
This is what matters most in deciding what you are like and how you conduct your life.
Some states have limits on how long records may be reported.
Many employers limit the use of older convictions for reasons not directly related to the FCRA.
Using older convictions contends with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for being job related and consistent with business necessity.
The EEOC guidelines state that an employer must consider the amount of time that has passed since the offense was committed when deciding whether to use the information in an employment decision.
Many employers check only five to ten years’ history when hiring applicants.
States with a Seven-Year Background Check
The question of how long criminal activity can be used in an employment application establishes guidelines for states to follow.
Some states look at information from the most recent seven years in running a background check.
There are several states that do not allow the use of any case older than seven years whether there was a conviction or not.
The following states are seven-year background check states:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
These states limit reporting criminal records to the past seven years.
However, the seven years can start from various points, including the date of:
- Release from incarceration
- Completion of parole
The date of release from prison is most often considered when counting those seven years.
Expunging a Felony
Given that felonies will show up on your record for seven years when a background check is run, there is only one way to keep criminal convictions from showing up.
The exception for reporting a conviction is when felons have had their records expunged or sealed at the time of the background check.
These records would not appear on a background check after seven years.
Requirements for expunging a record vary according to the state.
Most common crimes can be expunged.
Many states do not allow violent felony offenders to expunge their records.
Some more serious crimes can’t be expunged. These include:
- indecent liberties with a child
- aggravated indecent liberties
- criminal sodomy
- aggravated criminal sodomy
- sexual battery
Looking at this list reveals that crimes involving sex, children, or death will be more difficult to expunge.
Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
Doing a background check on yourself before applying for a job will allow you to know exactly what will be discovered when an employer does a background check.
That way you will know whether any felony conviction that is at least seven years old will show up.
If you have any questions, you can contact an attorney.
Don’t take a risk on the results.
You would have the best chance at getting a job by having your record expunged.
To help you be on top of things, you can run a background check on yourself.
In fact, we recommend doing exactly that to know what an employer will see.
It helps to be prepared.
Regardless of any felony history, it is important to be honest in disclosing any conviction.
If you aren’t and the background check reveals a felony, your opportunity for employment is gone.
Disclosing felony convictions provides you the opportunity to explain your situation and describe the circumstances of your crime.
Being prepared for these types of issues when applying for a job and having a background check run can prevent problems later on.
After all, honesty is the best policy for all concerned.
While you have made mistakes, you don’t have to be defined by them.
Be defined by how you respond to those mistakes.
So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felony will show up after seven years?
Have you or someone you know had a felony show up after seven years?
What was that like and what happened?
Please tell us in the comments below.