Hector Ruiz

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

Even though a misdemeanor is a minor violation, it is still considered a criminal offense and will appear on a person's record.

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?
Since a misdemeanor is part of a person's criminal record, it will certainly appear in a background check. | PeopleWhiz

Companies usually perform background checks when looking for the best candidate to fill a vacant job opening. One of the parts of screening and gathering information among potential applicants is the criminal background check. The reason is to determine if the applicant has a criminal history and if it could impact his or her capacity to perform the job well. If an applicant has a criminal sentence, it could be a notable warning sign that changes how the company perceives the applicant.

Often, companies determine whether the details of the misdemeanor can be a basis for excluding a candidate from employment. So they aren't blindsided, applicants might want to know if there's a record in their file about minor violations that can substantially hinder them from working. That's why many people stay on top of their public records using a powerful search service like PeopleWhiz.

If one has a misdemeanor on one's record, a common question is, "How long does a misdemeanor stay on my record?" Misdemeanor violations will remain in the person's criminal record permanently in most states. However, there are also things you can do to remove misdemeanor violations.

In this article we will explore what you need to know about misdemeanors, how long a misdemeanor stays on your record, and the ways you might have them erased.

Pull Your Report

What Is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a milder criminal offense such as shoplifting, minor theft, bad behavior, or trespassing. It commonly bears a maximum penalty of fewer than 12 months imprisonment. Normally the justice system handles misdemeanors as grave law offenses, but not so grave that the offender deserves a harsh sentence. Most misdemeanors are penalized with lighter punishments, like paying fines, community service, probationary, or little time in county prisons instead of state penitentiaries.

Will a Misdemeanor Appear on a Person’s Criminal Record?

Even though a misdemeanor is a minor violation, it is still considered a criminal offense and will appear in a person's record. This is the reason why a specific background screening will raise a verdict. So, applicants with a history of a misdemeanor will be asked if they have criminal sentences and must answer yes straightforwardly.

Will a Misdemeanor Remain on a Person’s Criminal Record?

Misdemeanor violations will be visible on a person’s record for a period of time set by jurisdiction or until a petition is filed in court to have the records erased or removed (expunged). Although minor and less severe than other criminal offenses, a misdemeanor is still a form of grave violation of the law. And remember, there is no countrywide termination date for misdemeanor offenses; it's up to each state. Even after a misdemeanor is no longer visible to the public in standard background checks, it can be pulled up by prosecutors and other officers of the court and law enforcement forever (unless expunged).

In another article we offer advice for dealing with a misdemeanor on your record when you undergo a background check. Many employers, landlords, and others are adding background checks to their procedures.

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

So if a misdemeanor remains on your criminal record, you'll want to know how long it stays there. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question since the duration will depend on the state where you reside and the misdemeanor violation itself.

In some states, if you have been indicted of a minor charge, such as trespassing, a misdemeanor will remain on your record for about two years from the day of the offense. But for serious misdemeanor violations such as drunk driving, a misdemeanor could stay on your record for 10 years following the day the incident happened.

If we had to give an average length of time a misdemeanor stays on your record for all states, it would be two to seven years.

You can request an expungement within two years of receiving the order. After you submit all the necessary paperwork and forms, you will have to appear before a judge and pay a small fee.

Will Misdemeanors Appear in a Background Check?

A background check performed by companies is a usual practice in recruitment and will incorporate a criminal background screening. And as mentioned, since a misdemeanor is deemed a component of a person's criminal record, it will certainly appear in a background check. If the company conducts a criminal background screening on a candidate, the report will show a misdemeanor violation.

However, it also depends on the type of background screening a company performs. Due to the nature of misdemeanor charges, they are frequently administered by the county court, and records are kept at the county level. Suppose the company performs the background screening straight to the national or state but needs to catch up to the county level. This will not ensure that a misdemeanor violation is counted in the criminal report. This is also true if the applicant is looking for employment in a location beyond the county where the misdemeanor violations are committed; the wrongdoings might not appear on the related background screening report.

Nonetheless, you shouldn't hope that a delay between agencies or a procedural glitch will hide your misdemeanor from potential employers or landlords. Always assume that when someone pulls a background report on you, they will see any misdemeanors.

How to Expunge a Misdemeanor

A record being expunged is when the court orders a sentence to be erased from a person's criminal record. The purpose of expungement is to help individuals with otherwise good behavior move on with life, free of the stigma of the criminal record.

Criminal records have been shown to hinder access to housing and jobs.

However, the probabilities of success in having a person’s record removed will differ based on various aspects, such as the state of home residence, the length of time since the verdict, the type of misdemeanor, and if there are other records for criminal activities. The longer the time since the sentence, the greater the possibility of the misdemeanor being expunged. The chances are also high if the misdemeanor is the sole criminal sentence in the person's record.

The record is deleted when the court approves the person's request to remove the misdemeanor and the charge is lawfully cleared. A misdemeanor must no longer appear on background investigation reports and cannot be lawfully used as the basis for disqualification in considering employment. Basically, it's as if the record never existed.

What Makes a Person Eligible to Expunge a Misdemeanor?

Regardless of the procedures of the different states in handling the misdemeanor removal on a person's criminal records, it will always benefit the person requesting the expungement if the following criteria apply.

  • The person has already completed the probationary sentence in the absence of any added offenses
  • The person was a juvenile at the time of the offense
  • It's the person's first violation, and it's associated with alcohol or drug possession
  • The court has already destroyed the record for the reason that it is ancient
  • The court did not find the person guilty because of a deformity or illness
  • If the misdemeanor record were expunged, the person would not be a danger to the community.

Final Thoughts on a Misdemeanor Staying on Your Record

Background screening will probably reveal a person's misdemeanor violations so it's not something to be thoughtless about. As a candidate for employment or housing, you should always be truthful about the information the interviewer needs. Unless you know the misdemeanor has aged off your criminal record, be ready to talk about it.

As for the company, conducting a background check incorporating all the necessary details, including the criminal history check, of your potential employee can be highly beneficial. This will not only ensure that you are hiring the best person for the vacant position, but more so, this process will provide security and safety, not just for the company but for everyone in the company.

Search Anyone Free

Related Posts