Clarifying Different Types of Criminal Records – Top 10 List
Let’s explore the top 10 most common convictions found on criminal background checks in the United States and get a better understanding of these convictions. This series of articles will delve deeper into conviction types, how they differ from state to state, the differences and subcategories of each, recidivism rates, and typical job functions that might need to be considered when this conviction turn up on a background check. It’s everything you never wanted to know about the most common arrests and convictions on criminal background checks.
1. Driving While Intoxicated
2. Driving While License Suspended
3. Possession of Marijuana
4. Possession of Controlled Substance
5. Assault Family Member
6. Theft By Check
8. Evading Arrest/Detention
9. Assault Causes Bodily Injury
10. Aggravated Assault
Number 1 on our Top 10 List: DWI Convictions
Making an Objective Hiring Decision: Applicant with Driving While Intoxicated
Should you hire an employee with a background that includes a DWI conviction? Being objective may prove to be difficult for most of us, as statistics indicate as many as one in three (1/3) people are touched by an injury involving an alcohol related auto accident. On the other side of the issue, there are a large percentage of people who have, at some point in time, had that second glass of wine with dinner and proceeded to drive home. The hiring decision is always yours to make as a manager, but there a few things to consider that might help you to make an objective and strategic move, as opposed to a selection that is based on a personal or emotional bias.
Each year in the United States, one percent (1%) of all licensed drivers are arrested for DWI, more people than for any other crime. This is consistent with what we see at KRESS when we run background checks for employers. What does this mean to you as a hiring manager? The question boils back down to – should you hire an employee with this background or not? While we do believe past behavior is a good predictor of future performance, the answer, as usual, is … it depends. One should consider the following factors when evaluating or creating your HR policy with regards to this type of conviction: the circumstances of the conviction, essential job functions of the individual’s potential position, and recidivism rates for this type of offense.
The circumstances of the conviction are one very important factor to take a look at when making a hiring decision. Information regarding the actual circumstances that lead to the conviction will generally be uncovered through direct interview questions. Let’s take a look at two examples, from real life. Two people each have the same conviction for DWI in Texas; it is the first offense for both of them. Both of their convictions fall under the category of a Class B Misdemeanor. They each recounted the following events, when talking about what happened.
“Jill” related the circumstances regarding her conviction to you. She has never been in any other trouble with the law. She was at a restaurant six months ago and had been served a few glasses of wine. She decided she would arrange a ride home, since she felt she might be impaired. When her ride arrived, she was instructed to move her car into a parking space on the side of the building, in order to leave it overnight. A policeman overheard this conversation and waited for her in the street out front. When she backed out of the parking lot to move her car, she was arrested and cited for DWI. The officer testified at her hearing that she was moving her car, and had arranged a ride home. She did not seem impaired, but registered a 0.08 for breath alcohol level.
“Jack” related the following circumstances regarding his conviction to you. He also had never been in any other trouble with the law. He had over celebrated his birthday two years ago, and was driving home. He fell asleep behind the wheel and woke up as he was running a red light. He narrowly missed causing a major accident and was pulled over by the county sheriff’s department. He called an attorney, who advised Jack not to participate in field sobriety tests or breathalyzer analysis.
Based on your own personal experience, it may be difficult to decide whether to hire one, both, or neither of these employees. Most hiring managers are usually guided by policy when excluding applicants or hiring employees, but in many cases these same hiring managers are charged with creating or updating policy. The two cases above illustrate how the exact same conviction can actually be the result of very different behavior on the part of the individual. Likewise, intoxication manslaughter is a much different offense than refusing a breathalyzer test, but they are both ultimately DWI convictions. Now let’s take a look at what this applicant will potentially be doing for your company if you decide to hire them.
One of the main criteria one should consider are the types of tasks that the employee will be doing while performing the essential daily functions of his or her job, and also the individual qualities that make different employees successful in any given role. If the position you are screening for is a driver, then it is probably an easy decision to make. However, when making hiring decisions one should also consider other positions that will have the employee driving to and from client sites, transporting your customers or other staff members, and/or traveling to other markets in a regional territory. Other factors to consider when making a hiring decision are your company’s auto insurance rates, as well your own liability and your company’s liability when and if you hire someone with this particular background. If the employee is not behind the wheel of your company vehicle, and/or is not driving his or her own vehicle in order to complete work related tasks, then there is no liability. If driving is an essential part of this person’s job, then one should take a serious look at the applicant’s driving record, as a matter of due diligence. One final factor to consider while making a hiring decision is the rate of recidivism for DWI offenders.
Unfortunately, the rates for recidivism for persons convicted of this offense are unusually high. When one begins researching and compiling data, the penalty classifications for first, second and third time offenders stand out right away. Recidivism data varies by state; and while there are many factors affecting recidivism rates for DWI convictions, the most common factor in determining whether a person will be convicted of DWI more than once seems to be court directed education and/or counseling. For first time offenders, there is a thirty-five percent (35%) chance that the person will be convicted again for DWI at some point in their life, but the recidivism rate drops down to five (5%) when the person participates in a court directed educational or counseling program.
Since this is the most common type of conviction results that we see when completing background screenings, a partial list of recommended employment assignments is attached. As always, we welcome your stories of positive or negative instances of hiring these types of employees. We will withhold any personal or company names if we publish your anecdotes in our blog.
This partial list of suggested employment roles for persons convicted of DWI is by no means comprehensive. If you are looking for a particular skill set or profession that is not mentioned, is not an indication that it was deliberately excluded:
• Retail Management
• Production/Manufacturing Management
• Inside Sales
• Legal (Attorney, Paralegal, Etc.)
• Copy Writer/Editor
• Call Center
• Bank Teller
• Help Desk
• Sous Chef/Grill Cook
• AutoCAD Draftsman
• Retail Associate
• Customer Service
This partial list of suggested excluded employment roles for persons convicted of DWI is by no means comprehensive. If you are looking for a particular skill set or profession that is not mentioned, it is not an indication that it was deliberately excluded:
• Wrecker Driver
• Heavy Equipment Operator
• Outside/Regional Sales
• Food Delivery
• Regional Manager
• Field Service Technician
• Census Taker
• Crew Leader: Construction/Moving/Landscaping