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If you are in the process of searching for a new job or applying for something that requires a background check, you may be wondering, “How do I know if I have a misdemeanor on my record?” A misdemeanor is a type of crime that is less serious than a felony, but more serious than a simple infraction. If you have ever been a defendant in a case like this, and have been found guilty, there is a good chance you have a misdemeanor on your record.
But in some cases, you may be unsure, and when this happens, there are ways to check right now (both free and by paid services) whether or not you have a misdemeanor charge on your criminal record.
How Do I Know if I Have a Misdemeanor On My Record? (What is a Misdemeanor?)
There are two different types of crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. A felony is considered a more serious infraction than a misdemeanor, and often comes with more stringent consequences and punishment. If you get convicted of a misdemeanor crime, you can still get prison time or be placed on parole, depending upon the type of misdemeanor you have committed. Jail time for a misdemeanor is usually less than one year, but many times a warrant can be issued for a misdemeanor charge without you knowing.3 Many people ask, “how do I know if I’ve been charged with a crime?” (a warrant has been issued), and for those cases, you can also find that public information.
Misdemeanor charges are broken up into three different classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A misdemeanors are considered the worst out of the three and carry the highest penalties. Each of the three classes come with minimum sentencing or jail terms.1 Since the Class A misdemeanor is the worst offense, it carries the highest penalty at a maximum of 365 days jail time and minimum 180 days. The second offense of Class B carries a maximum penalty of 180 days and minimum of 30 days. Class C offenses have the smallest penalty, with a maximum of 30 days and minimum of 5 days. The jail or probation time will be determined by a judge in accordance with the actual crime.
If you have been arrested and gone to trial or plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge, there is probably one on your criminal conviction history (criminal record). The easiest way to answer the question of “how do I know if I have a misdemeanor on my record” is to track down your criminal history. You can do this by learning how to run a background report on yourself, contacting your local police department, getting in touch with an attorney, or by learning how to run a free name-based background check. (Since this information is generally public domain.)
The following four options provide outline the ways to answer the question, “How do I know if I have a misdemeanor on my record?”
- Get a Background Check on Yourself
One of the easiest ways to learn about criminal history and answer “how do I know if I have a misdemeanor on my record” is to run a background check on yourself. By doing this, you will find out exactly what someone else will see when running a check. If you are planning on applying for a new job, it is usually a great idea to run a record check on yourself. Not only will this show any misdemeanors on your record, it will also show a full criminal history search. Many people wonder, “will I pass a background check with a misdemeanor,” and the answer is maybe. But, finding out if you have one on your record first can help you to prepare for any questions that may arise from the information found. There are many different products and services available that can also help you run a paid background check, which often saves times and helps prevent omission errors.
- Contact Your Local Police Department
If you have been arrested for a previous misdemeanor charge but aren’t sure if it is still active on your record, you can contact the law enforcement department where the arrest occurred to search public records. In most cases, they can provide you information about a previous offense and any arrests almost immediately.
- Find Your Records with a Free Name-Based Records Search
While it’s not guaranteed that any criminal information will show up with a free name-based records search, it can be a great starting point. You can check if any information populates with your name using a search engine like Google, social media, or by using a free name-based background check service. A free name search may turn up helpful information regarding whether or not you have a misdemeanor on your criminal record, but it’s always good to be cautious, since many of the databases aren’t utilized in free searches.
- Check with an Attorney
Another option for finding any information about misdemeanor charges involves speaking with an attorney. Many defense attorneys understand the legal avenues involved with finding and handling misdemeanor criminal charges. If an attorney finds a misdemeanor charge on your record, they may have advice or offer their services for assistance in removing it. A lawyer may make a huge difference in controlling the information available on your records and criminal record.
Do Misdemeanors Always Show Up on A Criminal Record Check?
You should know that if you have plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge, it will almost always show on a criminal arrest records check. However, there are also cases where they won’t. To determine if a misdemeanor charge will show up on a criminal background check, you should check with the following aspects:
- The State Laws
The laws regarding what type of crime is a misdemeanor are different for every state.2 For example, a crime like public nudity may be considered a misdemeanor in one state but not in another. If you are arrested and charged for that crime in a state that doesn’t consider the offense to be a misdemeanor, it won’t show up on your record.
- The Misdemeanor Charge’s Status
If a misdemeanor charge is pending on your record, it may not appear on a background check. State laws regarding whether or not pending charge information can be shared vary. Michigan, for example, only allows background checks to show pending felony charges.2 This means that your pending misdemeanor charge wouldn’t be visible to anyone looking at your criminal history in that state.
- The Type of Criminal Record Check
The type of background check being run will determine whether or not a misdemeanor shows up. If a level one or name based background check is run in the state of California, but you have a misdemeanor in Florida, it is unlikely that the charge will show up. Level one background checks typically only check one state for criminal history. It is important to note that if you run a federal background check through the FBI or Department of Justice, any federal misdemeanors will likely show.
- Whether the Misdemeanor Has Been Expunged
A misdemeanor charge, much like a felony charge, will stay on your criminal conviction records for your lifetime (but isn’t visible for certain checks). However, if you have the record expunged, the conviction will no longer appear on a background check or anything else that records criminal records. Expunging a charge means that it is wiped from your record.
- How Long the Misdemeanor Has Been on Your Record
Certain states limit how far back a background check can go for criminal record information and conviction information. There is a rule in place in California, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, New York, Montana, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Maryland known as the “seven year rule” by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.2 This rule states that criminal history can only be shown if it has occurred within the last seven years. If your misdemeanor charge (and conviction) is on your criminal history record from 8 or more years, it won’t appear on a background check in the states listed above. However, it may appear on another state report.
Do I Need to Tell An Employer About A Misdemeanor on My Criminal Conviction Records?
If you are in the process of searching for a new employer you might be wondering, “Do I have to tell a future employer about a misdemeanor on my criminal record?” The short answer to this question is no, you don’t have to tell your potential employer about your misdemeanor. But if it comes back on your background check, you may want to consider it. Most states have laws that prevent employers from making hiring decisions with criminal history or records in mind, but this depends on the job and the responsibilities related to the employment. In most cases, only positions that involve proximity to sensitive populations, like elders or kids, require criminal history checks.
Is a Sexual Crime Considered a Misdemeanor? (What is Sex Offender Registration and What Records Get Collected?)
Whether or not a sexual crime is considered a misdemeanor is dependent upon the type of crime committed. There are different degrees of offenses that change how they are charged and what the punishment is. While most sexual crimes are considered felonies because of the severity of them, there are still some that can be considered a misdemeanor. For example, a sex crimes theft ring would likely incur felony charges whereas a sexual assault in the 3rd degree between two minors might only be a misdemeanor.
When an individual has been convicted for a sexual crime that requires them to be placed on a national registry, they are compelled to complete sex offender registration. There are both national and state level sex offender registries that detail information about the registered sex offenders on the lists. Local law enforcement collects information from the offender, such as their name, address, and photo. This information is then placed on a public registry. The sex offender registry is available to the public online.
The need for someone to register is dependent upon the type of sexual crime they committed and the results. There are cases where a person convicted of a sexual crime does not need to register on the sex offender registry, but these are very specific.
How Do I Find Sex Offender Registration Information? (Does a Texas Sex Offender Have to Register for a Misdemeanor?)
Where you live and the type of information you have to search with will dictate how you access sex offender registration information. In the state of Texas, there is an online registry that will allow you to search for a sexual predator by name or address. In other states, you may only be able to search by name. The national sex offender registry can be accessed online, and will allow you to search by address for some states. All other searches will need to be done by name.
A Texas sex offender only needs to register with the law enforcement authority if their sentencing requires them to do so. Some sexual offenses, including those categorized as misdemeanors, do not require registration. The rules for the sex offender registry Texas are similar to the rules for sex offenders in other states.
If you’re in the process of searching for a new job or looking for new housing, you may be wondering if you have a misdemeanor on your record. While most misdemeanors won’t count as a mark against you for a new job, it will help you to know about it ahead of time. A misdemeanor is a lesser charge than a felony, which means that it has lesser consequences on criminal records. If you think you may have a misdemeanor on your record, there are many ways to find out for sure. You can run a background check on yourself, use a free name search, contact your local law enforcement, or employ lawyer services to learn more about your criminal record.
If you do find a misdemeanor on your record, many times, it can be removed or expunged. While not everyone is a candidate for this, it may be an option for you. Get in touch with an attorney or check with your local police department to learn about eligibility.
Among the crimes that can be considered misdemeanors, sexual crimes are one them. Depending on the severity of the violation, some sex offenders may be required to register on sex offender registry.
Knowing the steps and options available that answer the question, “how do I know if I have a misdemeanor on my record,” can save you a lot of time and trouble before your personal history is checked, and fortunately, there are ways that you can check, right now.
1MetroData Services. 24 June 2021. Do Misdemeanors Show Up on A Background Check? 4 Nov 2021. Web. <https://www.metro-check.com/2021/06/24/misdemeanors-background-check/>
2BackgroundChecks.com. N.d. Is a Misdemeanor On Your Criminal Record. 5 Nov 2021. Web. <https://www.backgroundchecks.com/personal/support/is-a-misdemeanor-on-your-criminal-record>
3FindLaw. 12 Nov 2019. What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor vs. Felony? 5 Nov 2021. Web. <https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-law-basics/what-distinguishes-a-misdemeanor-from-a-felony.html>