How to answer the "have you been convicted of a crime" question on employment applications ("The Question")

Is the question allowed to be asked?

NO if its a California government/public employer.

As of July 1, 2014 state and local government agencies have to remove questions about convictions from their job applications. This is called "ban the box."  (AB 218).

It is intended to prevent employers from automatically rejecting applicants whenever the box is answered "yes" to The Question.

Government agencies may still ask The Question but only after a conditional offer of employment has been made. The purpose of this regulation is to allow the applicant an opportunity to explain his or her side story to the employer rather than having his or her application rejected outright.

Please keep in mind that unless your conviction has been expunged, the conviction must be disclosed following a conditional offer of employment.

Even if the conviction has been expunged, these jobs usually require a finger-print background check or Live-Scan. The conviction will be disclosed as "dismissed" or "dismissed pursuant to Cal. Pen. C. 1203.4" on the finger-print background check report and the employer will be aware of the conviction.

Therefore, when asked, the best practice is to disclose the crime but also that the crime has been expunged.

YES for all other employers: federal government and private sector employers.

How do I answer The Question?

See chart below:

If your conviction has been expunged

1. Answer: "No, I have not been convicted" for all California jobs that does not require a finger-print or Live-Scan.

This is because commercial background check companies cannot disclose the expunged crime

The background check report should be blank

If the expunged conviction is disclosed, you have a right to dispute the information; have the information removed; and a clean report provided to the employer

If the the background check company refuses to fix the report, call us.

If the employer refuses to hire you after the report is fixed, call us.

If your conviction has not been expunged AND older than 7 years


1. Answer: "No" if and only if, The Question asks you to limit your disclosure to convictions within the last 7 years.

2. Answer "Yes" and full disclosure if no time limit is specified

If your conviction has not been expunged AND within the last 7 years

1. "Yes" and full disclosure