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Asked by Fernanda on August 22, 2015

I was arrested for an alcohol citation sophomore year. Will companies track down this information? Do I have to make them aware of it? I'd rather leave it in the past.

Answered by Peggy, Hiring Expert at Emerson, on August 25, 2015

Prior to extending an offer, companies most likely will perform a background check and this info will become known, unless your record has been expunged.  So it is better to be upfront with this info than for the company to find out this info on their own.  Also, be aware of how you complete your application, as some states still include a question or two about prior convictions. You do not want to get caught in falsifying your application or lying by ommission to the company rep(s) about your record.

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on August 25, 2015

If you were a minor when the incident occurred, there is a chance your record is sealed but that is up to the judge. When companies run background checks typically, the standard is to go back 7 years to see if you have any criminal records in all the counties you’ve lived, worked and went to school. Even if your incident was over 7 years ago but you were on probation within the past 7 years, it will show up on the background. Just because you have a record doesn’t mean you will be disqualified. Companies look at such things as the severity, job relatedness, how much time has passed since the conviction, and what have you done since then. Read the details of the question carefully. They may ask you, “Have you EVER been convicted?” Best policy is to be honest and explain how you’ve grown from the situation. Best of luck!

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Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on September 18, 2015

I understand your desire to put this behind you.  Keep in mind, however, that when you are hired for a position, companies will then typically conduct a background check on you.  In this check, they will typically verify your identity, verity your education and work history, and run a criminal background check.  While it is understandable that the tendency is to not disclose it, this could come back to harm you.  Most job offers get rescinded not because of what is discovered in the background check, but because of the applicant's failure to disclose it.  I would recommend that you be up front and honest about the incident, disclose it to your potential employer, and emphasize that you have learned from it.  This is much safer way to approach it than not disclosing it and hoping nobody finds out about it.

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