James M. Wagman, Attorney at Law
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Which crimes show up on background checks?


Though a crime is a violation of the laws of a state, not all crimes are treated equally. Hudson Valley residents may not know that crimes are categorized according to the penalties attached and the severity of the crime. Crimes are categorized as either infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies, and these classifications can affect the way they are reflected in background checks.

An infraction is the least serious type of crime-usually traffic violations where the police officer writes a ticket and gives it to the offending person, who then has to pay a fine. Though it involves little to no time in court, it leaves a criminal record that can be recovered in a background check.

A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year in prison and can also include a fine. Considered a lesser offense than a felony, examples of misdemeanors include theft, public intoxication, disorderly conduct and trespassing. A misdemeanor charge that converts into a conviction will also remain on the offender's criminal record and will be revealed if the employer checks for misdemeanors and felonies.

Most employers only run background checks for felonies. This is because they want to protect themselves from liability associated with hiring a convicted felon. A felony is a serious charge, resulting in punishment of more than one year, even a death sentence. Serious assault, kidnapping, felony DUI and murder all fall within the felony category. Employers can ask the potential employee for details about the crime in the employment application, and it is then the employer's discretion whether they want to hire the candidate or not.

Many Hudson Valley residents cannot fathom the far reaching repercussions of a criminal conviction, either on misdemeanor charges or felony ones. But they have the ability to affect someone not only in the short run but also in the long run. This is why it can be beneficial to fight them aggressively from the onset.

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