Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I am charged by campus police could I still face jail time or probation?”
The “Ban the Box” movement appears to be picking up steam across the country as more and more states pass measures aimed at removing a hurdle that often discourages those with criminal records from even trying to find work. President Obama has now waded into the issue, moving on the federal level to end the practice of pre-screening for previous criminal infractions. Advocates of “Ban the Box” measures are celebrating the victory, though believe much work remains to be done before those with criminal records truly have a fair shot at finding gainful employment.
Earlier this month, President Obama signed a memorandum that would create a rule to be followed by the Office of Personnel Management, the department responsible for hiring many federal workers. The memorandum, which was done without the assistance of Congress, prohibits federal agencies from asking whether applicants for government jobs have a criminal record until the final phase of the interview process. Currently, agencies include questions about whether a person has been arrested or charged with a crime on the job applications, meaning it is one of the very first things an applicant sees when considering applying for a federal job.
Many groups have come out against this practice, saying that these kinds of questions in the early stages of a job interview process work to scare away otherwise qualified and capable employees. The Justice Department issued a statement on the President’s rule change wholeheartedly endorsing the decision, saying that early inquiries into criminal records often discourage motivated individuals who have served their time from even considering applying for a federal job. These questions also lead to the disqualification of potentially eligible candidates and fail to ask pertinent questions, such as whether the arrest is related to job performance or whether the arrest ultimately led to charges or a conviction.
The issue of banning the box is not a small one, as experts say more than 70 million Americans have some kind of criminal record. Additionally, 600,000 Americans are released from state and federal prisons each and every year. For all these people, simple tasks such as finding a job or housing can become monumental undertakings thanks to boxes that ask about previous criminal histories. This can mean that it becomes harder to reintegrate into society, which leads to recidivism, something that is bad for both the individual and society.
Reformers say that making it easier for the millions of people with criminal records to find work is a great way not only to improve their lives and the lives of their children, but to lower crime rates. Study after study has shown that that securing steady employment is a key factor in dramatically reducing recidivism. This marks a big step in the right direction on the federal level and follows action by 23 states which have similarly banned the box. As more and more states sign on, the hope is that more and more people benefit from opportunities they might otherwise have been excluded from.
If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, please contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Our attorneys stand at the ready to defend you against state or federal charges. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
About the Author
Brad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.
Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.
In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.
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