One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But as a criminal defense attorney and Oregon expungement expert, there’s one mistake I see that might be even worse:
Simply doing nothing and hoping nothing bad happens.
This is never a good strategy. When your roof leaks, you shouldn’t just ignore it. When your car makes a funny noise, you shouldn’t just keep driving. When you have aches and a fever, you don’t go to work. The leak gets worse, your car stops running, and you get your co-workers sick.
When there’s a small problem, you need to take action to resolve it. Call a roofer, take your car to the shop, and call in sick. The same is true when it comes to previous arrests or convictions in your past.
When you simply ignore and try to forget about problems, they don’t go away. Those arrests or convictions are still on your record and can still affect your future.
In today’s blog post, we’ll talk about how a criminal record, including past arrests and convictions, can affect:
Career opportunities & certifications
Loans and mortgages
Recreation & gun ownership
Let’s get started!
Careers & Professional Certifications
Ban the Box
We are lucky to live in a progressive state like Oregon where ban the box-laws are in effect. While a great step, these laws don’t provide complete protection against discrimination.
In Oregon, a potential employer can’t ask about criminal history on an application (this checkbox is the “box” in “ban the box”). However, they can ask about criminal history during the interview process. In Portland, the laws are even more strict, preventing questions about criminal history until a conditional job offer is made.
This doesn’t mean you can ignore the potential consequences of your criminal record. An employer may still choose not to hire you based on your criminal history.
Other Job Opportunities, Including Professional Certifications & Licenses
In addition to being hired, your criminal history may also limit you from acquiring certain professional certifications and licenses. In Oregon, these include:
Many Positions that Require Working With Children - A criminal history will generally disqualify you from most, if not all, of these positions.
Court Reporter or Interpreter Certification/Registration - Any felony will disqualify you from being granted licensure.
Volunteering, Being Employed By, or Contracting With the Department of Justice and Other Agencies - Any felony or misdemeanor will keep you out of these positions.
Private Investigator License And Private Security Positions - Any felony or misdemeanor will mean you are ineligible.
Loans, Mortgages, Credit & Finances
When applying for a loan, mortgage, or another form of credit, a criminal background check may be run. Unfortunately, criminal history is not one of the classes protected against discrimination, which include (but aren’t limited to):
Every lender has different policies when it comes to approving mortgage, loan, and credit applications. Records of arrest and/or convictions may be used against you, even if they took place years (or even decades) ago.
Just like financial service providers, landlords and property management companies can legally deny your application because of your criminal history. With many apartment complexes and private landlords charging $40 or more for a rental application in Oregon, simply crossing your fingers and hoping for the best can become a frustrating and expensive experience.
Recreational Licenses & Firearms Ownership
In Oregon, any felony will make you ineligible to own a firearm of any kind. Your criminal history may also disqualify you from receiving a hunting or fishing license.
We touched a bit on this in the employment section, but it’s worth repeating. Many volunteer positions, especially those where a person might be working with children or at-risk populations, will require a background check and disqualify you based on previous transgressions.
You’d be amazed at the number of parents who aren’t able to volunteer at their child’s school due to a 20-year old marijuana possession conviction or other minor transgressions.
Don’t Ignore Your Past! Expunge It!
As you can see, a criminal record, including arrests and convictions, can impact your life for years and years. But it doesn’t have to! If you’re eligible, an expungement can clear your record of arrests and convictions. Check your eligibility now for free!
What is an Expungement?
Simply put, an expungement is a fresh start.
When you receive an expungement for an arrest or conviction, it’s like the offense never happened. All records relating to it are destroyed. It will not appear on a background check and you can legally answer “no” to any question related to your criminal record (as it relates to the arrest or conviction that was expunged).
Expungements are a great choice for anyone looking to put their past behind them and move on with their lives. Of course, there are limitations to which offenses can be expunged. These include:
Possession and other drug crimes
Theft and Burglary II
Misdemeanors and some B/C felonies
Offenses that can’t be expunged include: DUII, traffic offenses, and sex crimes, and most class A felonies.
Generally speaking, you’ll be eligible for an expungement if:
It’s been 3 years from the date of the conviction (or 1 year if you’re expunging an arrest)
You’ve completed all required sentencing, probation, community service, fines, etc.
You aren’t facing any pending criminal cases in any court
You have no other convictions in the past 10 years and no arrests in the past 3 years
Should You Pursue an Expungement?
Yes! If you are eligible, working with an experienced expungement attorney is a great investment. You’ll clear your record and won’t need to worry about problems securing housing, a job, volunteer opportunities, or any of the other issues we’ve discussed today.
As an experienced defense attorney in Oregon, I’ve seen firsthand how the system continues to punish people for years, even after they’ve completed the terms of their sentence or plea bargain. Don’t let it happen to you. It’s just not worth it.