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Housing and job struggles with a past criminal conviction

Discrimination comes in many forms, but some Washington State residents may not realize that discrimination can be against people who have a criminal record as well as against people of certain races, religions and sexual orientations. One of the many long-term consequences of having a criminal record is difficulty obtaining jobs and housing; a strong criminal defense may lessen the likelihood that a person has to experience this difficulty.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State notes that most employers, as well as most housing providers, will conduct a criminal records check on applicants. Unfortunately for many in Spokane and the rest of the state, this means that things as important as obtaining a job and renting an apartment can be out of reach for a person due to a past criminal conviction. Moreover, this may be the case even for those whose criminal records only contain a misdemeanor-level conviction.

Thanks to today's technology, housing providers and employers can get information on a person's past arrest history very easily. A criminal conviction can be easily discovered by most people if they know where to look and how to access this important information. Sadly, many employers and landlords will reject an applicant due to a past criminal conviction, even if that conviction happened decades ago or involved a minor crime.

Federal anti-discrimination law is meant to address this issue, but many agencies will still reject possible renters or workers because of past encounters with the law. Consequently, it's important for anyone who has been arrested to get the help they need to protect their rights and lessen the chances for a conviction. Whether a person has been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, getting the right legal help can be key to future success.

Source: ACLU of Washington State, "Second Chances," accessed Sept. 25, 2016

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