This final blog on the subject of criminal records probably should have been the first one, instead of the last one. This one focuses on the question of what it really means to have a criminal record. It’s not as obvious as it might seem.
Broadly defined, having a criminal record means that a job applicant either pled guilty to or was found guilty of having committed a crime. Acts are crimes because they have been defined that way by the state, via its legislative body. Within the list of acts defined as crimes, some are viewed as being more serious than others. As a result, some of these acts have more severe penalties attached to them than others.
The more serious acts that have been defined as crimes by the state are called felonies. Less serious crimes are called misdemeanors. The only difference between the two is the severity of the possible penalties for committing them. But, technically, being convicted of either a felony or misdemeanor means you have a criminal record.
The important thing to remember is that crimes come in all shapes and sizes. Technically speaking, a misdemeanor such as driving without a license or without insurance is a crime, just as murder is a crime, but the nature of the two are like day and night when it comes to doing a court check. One obviously won’t cause a candidate for employment to be automatically screened out, while the other may very well cause the candidate to be eliminated from any further consideration for employment.
Ultimately, the goal of doing a court check for the employer is to help ensure a safe workplace, which requires not only using reasonable care in the selection process, but also using a great deal of common sense. The important thing is having a basic understanding of what doing a court check really means in terms of a person’s eligibility for employment.