Many people make mistakes when they are young and end up with a criminal conviction for a misdemeanor. The conviction may seem relatively unimportant until the decision to apply for employment with a police department comes up. A misdemeanor conviction will certainly have an affect on an application for employment with a police department; however, it may not automatically disqualify the applicant.
Each police department will have a set of general requirements that apply to all applicants. The first step in applying to a police department should be to thoroughly read the general requirements which can be found on the department's website or at the department itself. As a rule, an applicant must meet age and educational requirements, pass a physical and psychological test, and pass a background investigation. Criminal convictions may impede an applicant's ability to gain employment with the department.
A background check is required for all applicants who wish to become a police officer, or even work in a support position in a police department. Applicants must consent to a background check when submitting an application. If selected to continue in the hiring process, most police agencies will also require the applicant to submit to a polygraph examination. In some cases, a misdemeanor conviction will not show up on a criminal background check; however, the applicant should still divulge the conviction.
The existence of a misdemeanor conviction does not always prevent an applicant from qualifying to become a police officer. Rules regarding automatic disqualification will vary by department. Some misdemeanor convictions, however, will automatically disqualify an applicant. A conviction for domestic violence, for example, will prevent an applicant from becoming a police officer as federal law prevents anyone with a domestic violence conviction from carrying a firearm.
Expunged, Pardoned or Sealed Conviction
In many states, a misdemeanor conviction may be expunged, sealed or pardoned. A pardon simply forgives the crime but does not not erase the conviction form one's record. An expungement or sealing of a conviction may remove the conviction from a public records check; however, even sealed or expunged convictions are generally still accessible to law enforcement agencies. Most applications for employment with a police force will specifically indicate that even sealed or expunged records must be listed in the criminal history section. The existence of a misdemeanor conviction may not automatically disqualify an applicant but lying on the application likely will.
Renee Booker has been writing professionally since 2009 and was a practicing attorney for almost 10 years. She has had work published on Gadling, AOL's travel site. Booker holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Ohio State University and a Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law.