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Can a Felon Become a Police Officer?

There may be restrictions in several areas of your life if you are a felon. It could be a restriction in your mobility, or to find a decent job. There are always some implications upon your life because of your past conviction. There are some job opportunities open for a felon.

When it comes to working in the legal department however being a felon can hamper the opportunity. In simple terms, to answer the question “Can a felon be a Police Officer,” the answer is no.

can a felon become a police officer

The legal department would not want to have a person who has committed a crime. Even with an expunged case, it may be difficult to become a police officer. E.g., in the Chicago police department, it is necessary to inform about the past criminal record of the felon. This is mandatory even for an expunged case. Some states may hire a felon with an expunged case.

Hence, whether a convicted felon can or cannot become a police officer with an expunged case depends on the region. So, there are some cases where the candidature of a convicted felon in the police department can be considered.

Reasons For Getting Disqualified As A Felon

1 General Reasons

  • First of all, the fact that someone has a criminal record implies that the person has committed something illegal, i.e., went against the law. So logically speaking, the legal department would not want to hire someone who committed something against their law. That’s the biggest obstacle in the way.
  • A convicted felon comes with a stigma. The felon is termed dishonest because they have committed a crime and went against the law.
  • To be a police officer, the first requirement is, to be honest, and to serve your country whole-heartedly. So, having the blame of dishonesty attached to a convicted felon, which is quite common, is another big obstacle in the way. The common public also considers convicted felons to be untrustworthy. People assume that felons do not have certain qualities required to be a police officer. A cop has to be responsible and dedicatedly do his work. People assume that a felon will not have these qualities.

can felon become a police officer

  • Also, a felon can, or is assumed to, do other crimes in the future and most likely go back to prison. Moral character is an important eligibility criterion for this job because you are going to be the representative of legal authority and make sure people follow the rules. Some states take several measures to establish the moral character of a person. It could however be difficult to determine someone’s character. These states however consider factors that could imply if a person is good in character or not. These assumptions about a convicted person fail to provide a positive picture of the person. This can be a major disadvantage and can keep them from getting a job as a police officer.

2 Legal Reasons

  • Another drawback of a convicted felon is legal constraints. Felons cannot carry a gun because of their past criminal record. But for a police officer to work efficiently, a gun is an essential prerequisite. Hence, not having the legal authority to possess a gun is a big obstacle.

can felon become police officers

  • Also, if a felon becomes a police officer and somehow gets involved in a case, then their past legal cases can be held against them in a trial by the defense. Another reason for which a candidate can be disqualified is if they fail to or deliberately don’t mention the officer about their past criminal records during the selection process. Generally, when you are applying for the job of a police officer, you are most likely going to have a background check. The reason behind this is simple. As you are going to work in the legal department, they need to make sure you are right for the job, and you are fulfilling all the eligibility criteria. Hence, it is always advisable to inform the officer in charge regarding your past criminal record to avoid disqualification.

Felons That Are Considered

In some cases, small convictions do not lead to the disqualification of the felon candidate. Big and more serious cases however can lead to disqualification.

  • If convicted of perjury, e.g., the candidature is likely to be canceled.
  • Authorities consider a felon’s candidature in the case of an expunged misdemeanor.

Intensity Of The Crime

It all depends on the intensity of the crime. If it’s a minor case, the candidature will not be canceled. If your license is canceled because of your felony, your candidature will get canceled.

1 If there is a DUI or Driving under the influence conviction, you are most likely to be disqualified if the case is still pending, and your Driving License has been revoked. That can be a serious constraint for getting a job as a police officer.

2 Another factor that works behind this is the frequency of your alcohol consumption. If you have several convictions against it, you are most likely to be not hired. Although, this depends on the state. Some states may consider a candidate with past criminal records, while other states would not.

can felon become police officer

We do find evidence of some officers having past criminal records, but those are mostly minor misdemeanors. Whether your felony or crime would directly affect your work as an officer or not is what is considered when it comes to determining whether you are fit for the job or not.

3 Other factors that play a role in getting a job in the police department include some behaviors or conducts which are considered suitable for the job. E.g., A person who is more connected to the civilian population, or someone who is physically fit, or someone having basic comprehensive skills is more likely to get this job.

Despite having all these, the eligibility of a candidate is hampered due to past criminal records. As stated earlier, individual states have individual laws. It is always advisable to do your research regarding particular states before applying for the job of a police officer.

New Beginnings

Considering all this, one can safely say that that there is negligible to zero opportunity for a felon to get a job as a police officer. Since a felon brings about stigma and assumptions due to legal reasons; there is almost no legal department that would hire someone with a past criminal record, especially if it’s a serious crime. There is however no reason for disappointment.

A felon may not be able to be a police officer due to the implications of their past. They can however still work in the law department. Many other posts hire people with past criminal records in their field. It is always advisable to do your research in this regard.

And you will see, in many fields of the legal department, e.g., in the traffic field, they hire people despite them having past convictions.

Final Words

Although there are limited opportunities, the right candidates get the right platform from the authorities. Felons lead a tough life after their release. Securing a job in law enforcement will change their life for the better and take them on the right path. Do not lose hope if things don’t work out. Look for the next best opportunity and work towards it.

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