According to the results of a 2012 survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management, nearly 70% of all employers in the United States run background checks on job applicants. Included in that number is virtually every industry and occupation you can think of, ranging from accounting to construction to transportation to hospitality. As technology erodes at our privacy, background checks will only become even more common than they already are. Unfortunately, this is bad news for anyone with a criminal history – including people who were convicted of federal crimes in Pennsylvania.

Some background checks are more extensive than others. Some simply verify information, while others dig into the prospective employee’s criminal record. As a general rule, the most thorough background checks are conducted on applicants to positions which involve working with children, such as teachers and school guidance counselors. Commercial drivers like truckers and bus drivers are also subject to extensive pre-employment investigations, which serve to verify clean criminal records as well as clean driving records.

The laws governing background checks vary widely from state to state, and employers which fail to comply may be subject to penalties. In Pennsylvania, relevant statutes include:

In fact, not only are employers allowed to deny employment based on these convictions – they are required to. The following is clearly provided by the statute:

“In no case shall an administrator hire an applicant if the applicant’s criminal history record information indicates the applicant has been convicted of one or more of the [aforementioned] offenses under Title 18… or an equivalent crime under Federal law or the law of another state.”

Other convictions which will exclude applicants from employment under this statute include:

Similar statutes, such as 24 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 1-111 and 5-527, apply to the “prospective employees of public and private schools,” including independent contractors. This statute requires these types of employees to submit to the potential employer “a report of criminal history record information from the Pennsylvania State Police.” (If the employee has a clean background, he or she must obtain an official statement confirming this information from either the Pennsylvania State Police or the State Police central repository.)

As we discussed in our article about expunging federal crimes, unfortunately expungement is generally not possible for a federal conviction. There are, however, a few limited exceptions for certain drug offenses committed by persons under 21 years old. In place of an expungement, persons with federal convictions may be interested in obtaining a Presidential Pardon. While Presidential Pardons are not equivalent to expungements and will not seal the record of the conviction, they will help to restore certain legal rights.

If you’ve been charged with a federal crime or are considering going through the criminal appeals process, it is critical that you have legal support from an experienced criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia. At the Law Offices of Lloyd Long, our aggressive defense lawyers have extensive practical experience representing clients charged with federal felonies such as money laundering and other white collar crimes. To arrange for a free and confidential case evaluation, call Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.

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