There is often a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between an arrest and a conviction. An arrest is not a conviction and does not always mean the person is guilty of anything; anyone can be wrongfully arrested. This blog will describe the difference between an arrest vs a conviction, as well as inform you of your rights when seeking employment.
What is an Arrest?
An arrest is an allegation of wrongdoing that may or may not be true. It means that an individual was taken into police custody and temporarily held. When someone is arrested, there is always the presumption that they are innocent until proven guilty. It is possible for an individual to be arrested but never convicted of the crime they were arrested for.
This can happen for a few different reasons. An attorney can make the decision not to prosecute or the case can be dropped due to a false arrest. It is also possible that the individual is charged, but the charges are later dropped or dismissed. Additionally, the person arrested may be charged, taken to trial, and found not guilty. Each of these scenarios is an example of being arrested but not convicted of a crime.
What is a Conviction?
A conviction means that an individual was found guilty of a crime. It is a judicial ruling that the person accused has committed a crime and indicates that the charges against the individual were prosecuted. The prosecution is completed by presenting the case to a jury. A conviction can only occur by a judicial ruling before a judge in a court of law or the accused pleading guilty to the charge.
There are many varying levels of crimes, including misdemeanors and felonies. Pleading or being found guilty of any level of crime results in a conviction, even if the individual did not spend any time in jail. Paying a fine, probation, community service, and a conditional or unconditional discharge are all indications of a conviction record.
Criminal Convictions and Employment
In Arizona, a conviction of a felony suspends some of a person’s civil rights, such as the right to vote, hold public office, serve as a juror, and possess a firearm, as stated in Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-904. It also has an effect on other areas of their life, such as finding stable employment. However, there are a few laws in place to help combat the effects.
Arizona law protects individuals from employer use of arrest and conviction records. It states that a person shall not be disqualified from employment solely because of a prior conviction. An exception to this rule is if the crime they were convicted of has a direct relationship to the occupation they are seeking. The law also protects individuals that are applying for a business license.
There are a few federal laws in place that protect job applicants with criminal records as well. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) obligates employers who request criminal background checks to make sure they are accurate. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects applicants and employees from discrimination, including screening practices during the hiring process.
Before deciding if an offense is disqualifying, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to consider:
- The nature and gravity of the conviction
- The amount of time that has passed since the offense occurred
- The type of the job the individual applied for
Criminal Defense in Tucson
If you or a loved one have been arrested or convicted of a serious crime, you need a highly skilled attorney. At the DUI Defense Team, our lawyers will help you navigate criminal charges and fight for your rights.