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Will a Drug Manufacturing Arrest Show Up on Background Checks?


Will a Drug Manufacturing Arrest Show Up on Background Checks?

Getting arrested is scary enough, but the consequences of having a criminal record can make the situation much worse. If you’ve been arrested for drug manufacturing, you may be worried about how it will impact your future employment opportunities. The short answer is – it depends.

There are a few key factors that determine whether your specific drug manufacturing arrest will appear on a background check:

  • Was it just an arrest, or were you actually convicted? Arrest records may or may not show up, but convictions almost always will.
  • What type of background check is being performed? There are many different kinds, from basic checks that reveal only convictions to comprehensive checks that dig deeper.
  • How much time has passed since the arrest/conviction? After 7-10 years, older records often get filtered out.
  • Which state did it happen in? Some states make it easier to expunge records than others.

To get a better idea of what to expect, let’s take a closer look at how background checks work and the various situations that could apply.

Types of Background Checks

Not all background checks are created equal. There are a wide variety of different types that dig up different amounts of information:

  • Basic checks simply verify identity and look for convictions in the state where the check is performed. An arrest without conviction likely won’t show up.
  • Statewide criminal checks search for convictions across all counties in a single state. Still limited to convictions.
  • Multi-state or nationwide criminal checks search for convictions within all states.
  • Enhanced/comprehensive checks go beyond convictions to also search for arrests, warrants, etc. Much higher chance of the drug arrest appearing.
  • Fingerprint checks provide positive ID and reveal both misdemeanors and felonies.

As you can see, the more thorough the background check, the more likely it is your drug manufacturing arrest will be discovered – even without a conviction.

Arrests Versus Convictions

For any type of background check, a conviction related to drug manufacturing will almost definitely show up and raise red flags for employers. However, just being arrested or charged with a crime is different than actually being convicted of one.

For example, say you were arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine, but the charges ended up being dropped due to lack of strong evidence. Since you were never convicted in court, this scenario alone likely wouldn’t disqualify you from most jobs.

However – and this is a big “however” – the arrest might still appear on an enhanced background check. Seeing the drug-related offense, even without a conviction, could make employers hesitant.

If it was a simple arrest that led to dropped charges, you may be able to explain the situation. But you’d have a much tougher time if it shows you pleaded guilty or “no contest.”

How Far Back Do Checks Go?

Many background checks only go back 7-10 years looking for convictions. If your drug manufacturing arrest happened longer ago than that, it most likely won’t get flagged.

However, some employers opt for more thorough checks that scour your entire criminal history. It’s also possible certain industries like banking or education may probe deeper.

So again, the recency of the offense is a key factor. A very old arrest without conviction has better chances of fading away compared to something within the past couple years.

State Laws and Court Records

It also depends which state the arrest happened in. Some states make it easy to access and search through court records online. Others restrict public access to protect privacy.

For example, California has strict laws limiting the use of prior arrests/convictions in employment decisions. In fact, employers in California aren’t even allowed to ask about criminal history on initial applications. They have to wait until making a conditional job offer first.

The way each state handles sealing and expunging records can also make a big difference. If you get your record expunged, it’s like it never happened as far as background checks go. Some states let you expunge arrests that didn’t lead to conviction, while others only expunge convictions after a certain period of time.

Consult an attorney to understand options based on the relevant state laws. If the arrest occurred long ago and records are now sealed or expunged, it most likely won’t get dredged up again.

What About Drug Charges That Weren’t Manufacturing?

While any type of drug offense raises concerns for employers, an arrest specifically for manufacturing carries extra severity. Manufacturing indicates involvement with drug distribution operations, not just simple possession.

If your record instead shows arrests for possession, use, or being under the influence, you have a better chance of explaining it away. For example, you could claim it was just a youthful indiscretion with marijuana. Or say you struggled with addiction issues in the past but have been sober for years.

That said, you still want to be cautious about which employers find out even about minor drug offenses. More understanding ones may overlook it, but not all will.

Getting Ahead of It

The best plan is to get out in front of the situation before any background check happens. This means being upfront about your history to avoid surprising the employer later. When and how to disclose depends on the laws in your state.

For example, say you’re in the running for a great new job. Before the offer is official, consider telling the hiring manager:

“I want to be open that I have a prior arrest from several years ago that was dismissed without conviction. It was a one-time mistake that does not reflect who I am today. I know it may still appear on background checks, and I want you to hear it from me first.”

This shows honesty and transparency. If it’s an otherwise minor incident from long ago, the employer may barely care. By addressing it maturely, you increase the chances they see beyond that single mistake.

On the other hand, if you say nothing and the arrest pops up on the background check, it can look like you were hiding something. That breeds distrust.

What If You’re Asked About Criminal History?

Many job applications and interviews bluntly ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” or “Have you ever been arrested?” This puts you in a tight spot.

If you check “yes” or admit it, you may not get the job based on that alone. But if you check “no” or lie about it, and it later comes up on a background check, you can be fired for falsifying your application.

This is why laws in some states protect applicants by prohibiting employers from asking about criminal records too early in the process. Check your state laws for specifics on when such questions are allowed or prohibited.

If you must answer criminal history questions on an initial application, one option is to tactfully state:

“I have a prior dismissed arrest – details available upon request.”

This acknowledges it exists without providing details unless the employer asks. Some may appreciate your directness without prying further.

Can You Refuse a Background Check?

Refusing to submit to a background check will automatically disqualify you from most job opportunities. However, you might have certain rights in some states to contest inaccurate information that shows up.

For example, if you dispute something on your report, the employer must investigate within a reasonable time. They may have to disregard disputed entries while looking into it.

That said, refusing background checks is generally not advised. Even if you know your arrest will appear and don’t want to chance it, there are better ways to address the situation.

Being proactive, transparent, and having an explanation prepared gives you the best odds of overcoming past mistakes. And if legal options exist to expunge or seal your records, it’s wise to pursue those avenues as well.

Specific Jobs and Industries

While any drug arrest makes employment more challenging, certain fields will be especially strict about criminal histories. Jobs involving public safety, security clearances, working with kids, etc. typically conduct very thorough background checks.

Healthcare, banking, and transportation industries also tend to be more rigid about drug offenses. Any government or civil service jobs may immediately disqualify candidates with records. And the requirements for jobs that need professional licensing vary by state.

On the other hand, positions like construction, food service, manual labor, and jobs with high turnover often perform only basic checks, if any. Smaller private companies also tend to be less stringent than big corporations.

Realistically, your best opportunities to avoid background checks will be with smaller businesses or mom-and-pop type shops.

What Else Might Appear

Beyond the arrest itself, other information related to the incident could also potentially show up:

  • Mugshots – Some states include booking photos in criminal records. These can be prejudicial if the employer sees you looking disheveled after getting arrested.
  • Police reports – Details from the original police investigation may appear. This provides the employer more context about what happened.
  • Probation – If you were sentenced to probation rather than jail time, this will likely show up. Active probation raises concerns that you still pose an ongoing risk.
  • Parole – Similarly, any current or past parole information is available. A parolee is technically still serving their sentence.
  • Pending charges – If the case is still pending, the background check will say so. Unresolved charges look concerning to employers.
  • Drug testing – A failed employment drug test could prompt digging into your history for other substance abuse issues.

Takeaways for Job Seekers with Drug Arrests

Having any kind of criminal record undoubtedly makes finding employment more of an uphill battle. A drug manufacturing arrest is no exception. But with the right approach, you can still convince employers to look past it:

  • Be honest rather than hiding it – Dishonesty disqualifies you faster than the actual offense.
  • Research state laws and options for record expungement.
  • Target smaller companies and those less likely to conduct intensive checks.
  • Emphasize positive life changes since the incident.
  • Address and explain the arrest proactively before the background check.
  • If denied a job, don’t immediately assume it was due to your record. There could have been other factors in play.
  • Consider vocational rehabilitation programs that help felons return to the workforce.
  • For professional licensing, petition the state board for a pre-determination of whether your record will disqualify you.
  • If you have multiple offenses, expect more difficulties. One youthful mistake is easier to overcome.
  • Focus your job search within industries that are more open to hiring ex-offenders trying to rebuild their lives.

With determination and perseverance, you can still find employers willing to look past an old drug arrest and recognize your skills. Don’t get discouraged. The right opportunity is out there!

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