Can you become a cop if you have a felony or misdemeanor conviction on your record?
No one can stop you from pursuing a career in law enforcement if you have a felony or misdemeanor conviction.
The real question is: what are your chances of getting hired?
Well, everything depends on what you were convicted of.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor like simple marijuana possession, your chances are much better than the guy with a cocaine distribution charge.
Even if you got your record expunged, you still have to disclose your arrest/conviction to law enforcement.
Law enforcement agencies require you to disclose expunged convictions.
It’s still worth it for you to get your record expunged for a few reasons.
- Getting your record expunged shows that you care about your future.
You are a responsible person who made a mistake, but took steps to improve.
- If you were able to get your criminal record expunged, it means that your crimes weren’t so serious.
Remember, some crimes cannot get expunged and having multiple convictions will also disqualify you.
- In order to get your record expunged, you had to comply with all conditions of probation or sentence.
Again, this shows you are a responsible person.
The best thing you can do is be HONEST about your criminal record.
Law enforcement has access to expunged records and sometimes the question about your past is really a test to see if you’re honest.
In other words, the Police Department where you apply already knows the answer before asking it.
Since you must divulge your record (even if expunged), you might as well be as up front as possible.
An arrest for simple marijuana possession isn’t as bad as lying about it!
Law enforcement agencies will look at you overall
Plenty of people who have been arrested have gone on to have illustrious careers in law enforcement.
It’s not a single bad decision that makes you who you are.
Rather, law enforcement will look at you in your entirety (as a whole).
If you have excellent grades, a healthy lifestyle, and a true passion for helping people, then your pot arrest takes on a different meaning.
The following crimes are among the most serious:
- Aggravated assault
- Any first- or second-degree crime
- Child abuse
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal restraint
- Endangering the welfare of a child or incompetent
- Luring or enticing a child
- Most drug crimes
- Perjury and false swearing
- Reckless endangerment
- Resisting arrest
- Sex crimes (e.g. rape)
- Theft in the third degree
- Weapons violations