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Can Employers See the Suspended Imposition of a Sentence?

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Pleading guilty can sometimes keep you out of jail. In some cases, the guilty party receives a suspended imposition of sentence from the judge. The defendant agrees to perform probation or community service and in return there's no jail time and no conviction on his record. The case itself and the outcome are in the court files, though, and a background check may turn it up.

Truthful Answers

If you have an SIS in your past, you can honestly answer no if your employer asks about criminal convictions. However, a background check may turn up the case despite the suspended sentence. Federal law allows arrests that don't result in convictions to stay on your credit history for seven years. If the case is older than that, it doesn't show up. Convictions stay on your record forever. Some states have laws that give you greater protection. In California, for example, employers can't ask about arrests that didn't result in convictions.

Does It Matter

Having an SIS on your record may affect your chance of employment. In Missouri, for example, the law bans anyone with a conviction or an SIS from working in a mental health facility. You can request an exemption from the state Department of Mental Health. A DUI arrest on the job, even without a conviction, can kill a career that puts you behind the wheel, such as trucking or taxi driving. Unless state law protects you, a potential employer who discovers the SIS can factor that into his decision on whether to hire you.


A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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