When filling out an application for employment in California it is common for there to be a section asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. But just what happens if that crime was committed when the applicant was a juvenile? Can the juvenile check no? Is it fair this question is even being asked?
In California, it is OK to check “no” on employment applications when it asks about prior convictions if the conviction took place when the applicant was a juvenile. For example, a 17-year-old who was recently applying for a job in Oakland at a smoothie shop could have checked no when asked about convictions as his weapons charge was from when he was 14 years old.
In that case, the 17-year-old admits that he did bring a gun to school. At the time, he said he did it to be cool. Now, that bad decision continues to haunt his life, even if he has drastically changed his behaviors.
In his case, the 17-year-old did put down “weapon charges” on the smoothie shop application. However, according to a recent news report produced by Youth Radio, he could have put “no.”
In California, juveniles are adjudicated instead of convicted. And while the differences in these two terms are rather small, it can matter quite a bit when it comes to whether or not a person will end up getting the job.
However, while the question about convictions can be answered with a no, questions about arrests still need to be answered with a yes, which could still end up having a negative effect on employment possibilities.
When looking at the issue as a whole, with more than a third of adults getting arrested before turning 23, many are juveniles at the time of their arrest. This means there are a large number of people in the U.S. who continue to be haunted for decisions that were made when they were young and naïve.
Many argue this creates a system that makes it hard for people to achieve. What do you think? Should employers ask applicants about juvenile crimes?
Source: Marketplace.org, “Young, with a juvenile record, and looking for work,” Ashley Williams, April 11, 2013
- Due to the long-term consequences a juvenile conviction can bring, those who are under the age of 18 and charged with crimes are encouraged to contact a criminal defense attorney. To learn more, visit our San Bernardino juvenile criminal charges page.