Our nation arrests its citizens in massive numbers. As many as 1/3 of our entire population is said to have a criminal record (If you have been arrested, you have a criminal record) before the age of 23 according to a 2011 National Institute of Justice Article. As a result of this unfortunate reality, many Americans have severely limited career options unless they can successfully expunge or seal their past offense. One of the questions we get most often is: can I be a police officer if I have a criminal record? Well the short answer is: it depends.
There is a large degree of subjectivity by state and local police departments when it comes to eligibility to become a cop. Generally speaking, a felony conviction is an automatic disqualifier and depending on the state you live in and the department you are looking to join, there may be additional disqualifiers. It is best to get as much information as you can from the recruiting department of a police department regarding employment criteria.
Often times, expunging or sealing your criminal record can lift the bar to employment with a police department. Depending on your state, you may be eligible to seal a conviction, or expunge an arrest, thereby making you an eligible recruit for a police department.
We plan to continue to share our knowledge and advice in future posts on these topics. If you have any questions about your personal situation related to joining a role in the U.S. criminal justice sector, please give our office a call at 844-947-3732 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.