4 Ways an Arrest Record Becomes a Problem

Let’s face it; everyone makes mistakes when they are younger. Whether it was a night of underage debauchery with your parent’s pilfered booze or a dare to rob the cash register at the local 7-Eleven, you might still be reeling in the wake of that bad decision today. People who were arrested as a youth have unique struggles in life, as they are often treated differently than those who haven’t had a run-in with the law. Here are a few challenges that the 70 million Americans who have been arrested might face.

Getting a Job

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Getting a job is the number one issue with having an arrest record. Many job applications ask you to disclose any arrest information, and if you have anything listed, many companies simply choose not to interview you. Even if you do make it to the interview stage, 69 percent of employers perform background checks. In a background check, your employer will be able to see all of your arrest records, court reports, criminal convictions, and police reports.

If the report does come back negative, only 58 percent of employers allow candidates to explain the arrest or conviction. The rest will automatically decline the candidate for the position.

Renting an Apartment

Employers aren’t the only ones who can run a criminal background check on you. Landlords also choose to do this, and many are swayed by negative results. While this is technically against the law, many landlords are choosing to deny prospective tenants regardless. The Fair Housing Act is intended to prevent against this sort of discrimination, but landlords will come up with other reasons to justify their bias.

If you’re thinking of just skipping rentals and jumping into homeownership, think again. In a survey of 25-year-olds, 21 percent of them who had never been arrested owned a home. However, only 15 percent of people who were arrested owned a home. The rates were even worse for those who had been convicted, with only 10 percent being homeowners.

Earning a Professional License

If you’ve ever wanted to become a professional of any kind, you might be banned from doing so thanks to your criminal record. For example, many states won’t allow you to become a plumber, cosmetologist, or funeral director if you’ve been arrested before. Oklahoma, in particular, is extremely strict, limiting anyone with two convictions of marijuana possession from becoming a physical therapist, interior designer, or land surveyor.

Filling Up Your Bank Account

Whether it’s because they can’t find a good job or because of salary discrimination, those with an arrest record make far less than their peers. At age 25, the median income for someone who was never arrested was $25,000. For those with an arrest, it fell to $23,000, and for those with a conviction, $20,000.

If your arrest record is affecting your life, there are steps you can take to have it expunged after a certain period of time. Doing so might make life a little easier, so be sure to look up the rules in your specific state.