A question that we frequently receive from both clients and non-clients seeking consultations is “How long will a conviction for this stay on my record?” There are actually 2 answers to this question, but unfortunately, neither of them are usually well received.
The most straight-forward answer is: forever. Regardless of whether you are only convicted of a first-time offense, such as possession of marijuana or reckless driving, these convictions will stay on your record forever. Virginia law makes no distinction between misdemeanors or felonies in this respect. A criminal conviction is a criminal conviction, and it will be on your record. And even beyond that – all criminal arrests will stay on your record forever as well. If you’ve found this blog post by conducting an internet search, this probably isn’t the answer you wanted to hear, but it only highlights the reason why you should reach out to an attorney immediately if you are facing criminal charges – even for simple misdemeanors. Again, criminal convictions – even for misdemeanors – stay on your record forever in Virginia.
However, occasionally we’re asked a slightly different version of this question. If your actual concern is, “How long will a conviction show up on a background check?” – well, that’s a different answer! Under the Fair Credit and Reporting Act, companies that perform background checks can only report convictions from the previous 7 years. Again, there is no different standard applied to misdemeanors vs. felonies in this record. So, if you are convicted of First Offense Possession of Marijuana in Virginia and 4 years later you apply for a job, that Possession of Marijuana conviction will show up on the background check. And keep in mind, this 7-year search scope only applies to private employment. If you are seeking to work for the government or obtain a security clearance, then the FCRA has no standing and every conviction on your record will be reported.
So, this then leads us to the second most asked question we receive from potential clients: “Do I really need to hire an attorney for a misdemeanor?” The answer, in most cases, is yes! As we’ve discussed, a conviction will be on your record forever and will show up on a background check for a job for at least 7 years. That should not be taken lightly. And when the job market is as soft as it currently is, you can’t give an employer a reason to look more closely at other potential employees over your own application.
The attorneys at Ervin Kibria PLLC are available today to discuss your case with you and provide their recommendation on whether you should retain counsel. However, hiring an attorney does not guarantee that you’ll walk away with a clean record. Every case is different, and every client is different. But as far as your job prospects are concerned, having a charge reduced down to a lower level misdemeanor can be critical.
If you are interested in speaking to a DUI lawyer about your case, give us a call at (703) 962-7790.