Do I Have to Tell My Employer I’ve Been Charged with a Crime?

January 2, 2014  |  Adriel B. Villarreal

You are not under any legal obligation to go out of your way to tell your employer about your arrest. However, your arrest and court appearances could cause you to miss work, which could lead to problems on the job.
An arrest is not a conviction, so it may be in your best interests to come clean with your employer about what’s going on. You may also need or want to apply for a leave of absence to give yourself the time that you need to defend yourself.

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Arrests are matters of public record, and your boss may find out that you’ve been arrested anyway. Hearing it from you may help you hang on to your job.
If you are convicted then you are still not required to go out of your way to let your employer know. For example, if you plead guilty to a misdemeanor and are sentenced to a fine you do not have to disclose that you now have a criminal record.
Legally, you can’t be fired from a position or discriminated against in a hiring decision simply because you have a criminal record. You can only be fired if the position relates to the crime in some way. A receptionist can’t be fired over a DUI charge, for example, unless her duties include driving the company car.
While the possibility of losing your job while facing down criminal charges does add to the stress you must be facing, ultimately it should not be your primary focus. Your primary focus should be on working with your criminal attorney to make sure that you muster a strong defense or take your best option from the options available to you. Any other concern is simply a distraction that you can ill afford to pursue.
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