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Many Americans worry that having a misdemeanor might close doors to future jobs. It’s true that getting a job can be harder with a misdemeanor, but it’s not impossible. Let’s dive into how misdemeanors can affect your job chances and what you can do about it.

Background Checks: A Common Step

Did you know that almost every company checks your past for any criminal history? In fact, 97% of companies do this. If you’ve ever filled out a job application, you might have seen a question about criminal convictions. While having a misdemeanor doesn’t mean you won’t get a job, the type of job and the crime do matter. For instance, if you’re hoping to drive for a living, a DUI conviction could be a big problem.

Professional Licenses and Misdemeanors

In some jobs, especially those needing a professional license, a misdemeanor can be a big deal. For example, in Arizona, if you work in healthcare, you must tell your licensing board about any misdemeanor that could risk patient safety. Not doing so could mean you can’t work in your field anymore.

Arrest vs. Conviction: What’s the Difference for Employment?

There’s a big difference between being arrested and being convicted when it comes to jobs. An arrest alone shouldn’t affect your job because it’s not proof you did anything wrong. But, a conviction is proof of wrongdoing and can impact your employment chances. If you’re only arrested, a lawyer might help clear your name or reduce the charges.

A Second Chance: Setting Aside a Conviction

If you’re convicted, all hope is not lost. Arizona has a process called “setting aside” a conviction. This doesn’t erase your record, but it can change your conviction to a dismissal. This shows employers that you’ve made amends and moved on. Even if you have to say you were convicted, you can explain the conviction was set aside.


Having a misdemeanor doesn’t automatically mean you can’t get the job you want. But, it’s something to take seriously. If you’re facing misdemeanor charges, getting legal help can be a good first step. And if you’ve been convicted, looking into setting aside the conviction could help. Remember, a mistake doesn’t define you, and many employers understand that.

J. Horowitz
J. Horowitz

J. Horowitz leverages over two decades of experience as a seasoned employment law attorney in Arizona to offer insightful freelance writing on the same subject. After a successful career advocating for fairness and justice in the workplace, J. now dedicates his expertise to writing comprehensive articles, blog posts, and thought leadership pieces that illuminate the complexities of employment law.