The Effects of Criminal Charges Getting Hired or Finding Work
Ask anyone in a career position or working in a professional capacity, and the idea of what happens if charged with a crime will send shivers through that person. While the American legal process follows the premise of innocent until proven guilty, most people know that just the presence of a criminal charge or indictment is enough to be a scarlet letter on a person’s name.
If a person is lucky, the criminal charge that has been filed doesn’t end up in the local newspaper. The press love to run stories on someone being targeted in an investigation, but they also tend to focus on big crimes versus petty issues. However, as soon as it does go to print, a person in a job plays the roll of the dice as to whether anyone has read the local paper that day or not. He will likely hold onto his job until criminal charges get filed, and job visits by the police will evolve into a work suspension. Employers often use “paid-leave” to get a suspected person out of the office until a termination goes through.
Unfortunately, with the advent of technology, those looking for work and trying to get hired have it the worst when facing criminal charges and job market scrutiny. The majority of employers and their human resources offices regularly perform at least a cursory search engine query on a person’s name to determine if there is anything sensitive or problematic in that person’s background. When a person’s name pops up associated with some kind of charge, or even a criminal investigation, many employers will blacklist the person immediately from any further hiring consideration.
Even government jobs, with the significant protections that are in place associated with civil service, can be affected by the presence of a criminal charge. The federal government, states, counties and cities all include questions in their application processes asking about prior convictions. While a criminal charge is not a conviction by any means, if a hiring team finds out about a candidate’s legal issues during hiring, it can nix the application very quickly. Again, criminal charges and job applications don’t mix well.
There is no question that a criminal charge exists as soon as a person’s name is made public associated with a criminal proceeding. Society is very quick to assume a person is guilty as soon as the label is applied with an indictment. Prosecutors also know that by making it hard for a charged suspect to get hired or retain employment, the person will have a harder time paying for quality legal defense. So in some situations they may use the press to disseminate selected information. While that approach to a criminal case may not seem fair, it’s a common tactic employed by highly aggressive agencies. As far as the prosecution is concerned, a person who is charged means that there is enough of a case present that the person did the crime. So the idea of innocence with respect to the criminal charges is irrelevant.
An Earning Alternative
One way of offsetting the name recognition that impacts one’s earning power while going through a legal process is to work as a freelance contractor if possible. There are quite a number of resources and opportunities via the Internet that a person can use to earn an income without worrying about their criminal charges impacting them in their job search. While these resources may not replace the former level of income, they can definitely help in the interim to pay the bills. Hiring parties don’t even bother to focus on background checks in the large majority of projects, so criminal charges impacting ones job isn’t likely.
While facing a criminal charge by itself is a huge issue to deal with, someone facing a criminal court trial is often dealing with shock; trying to find a defense lawyer, and trying to figure what the near future will hold next. That said, the mortgage and utility bills still need to be paid. Getting a job or holding onto one may seem secondary when the news of an indictment is first found out, but eventually it will become a primary challenge again. The situation will not seem fair, but a person has to be willing to be creative on how to find work if necessary, or have enough savings to fall back on. Simply letting things happen is a sure fire way to end up having to rely on a public defender for a defense—where your ability to choose who you want to defend you is up for grabs. In the marketplace, you have the power to shop around and make a decision that you can feel comfortable with. Whether you decide to spend the remainder of your earnings on a lawyer or your bills, however, is no easy decision. Educate yourself through online attorney sites and make sure you ask the right questions before you decide where you invest your money.
When considering how to make that difficult decision, consider the following proverb:
To make a living, you have to stay out of jail. To stay out of jail, you have to hire a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer is costly. But choosing the right lawyer is priceless.