College & Work: What to Know If You Have a Criminal Record

Posted by Josh Valentine | May 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

Entering the workforce or going to school is a life-changing decision. Pursuing either option requires a lot of foresight and planning. Although it is possible to go to college and/or be employed if you have a criminal record, there are a few important details to remember.

What to Know if You Want to go to College

A criminal record does not disqualify you from going to college. Increasingly, colleges are willing to consider prospective students who have a criminal record for enrollment. Within college applications, questions concerning your criminal history are asked. If you have a criminal record, there may be additional requirements during the application process, such as:

  • Submitting your conviction records
  • Submitting letters from parole officers and prison superintendents
  • Interviews with security personnel.

One important potential barrier facing prospective students with a criminal record is college funding. Whether or not a student receives financial aid or a Federal Pell Grant depends on the type of crime he or she committed.

  • If you are in a state or federal institution, you cannot receive federal student loans or a Federal Pell Grant.
  • For those on parole or probation, you are eligible for federal student aid.
  • Your eligibility may be limited if your conviction was for drug-related or sexual offenses.
  • If your criminal record involves a forcible or non-forcible sexual offense and you are subject to involuntary civil commitment upon completion of the incarceration period, you cannot receive a Federal Pell Grant.

What to Know if You Want to get a Job

If you have a criminal record and would like to get a job, there are also a few things to consider. Companies can request information through a background check or a criminal record check, one of which must be agreed to by a potential employee. A background check can investigate the following:

  • Current and sometimes past addresses
  • Marital status
  • Bankruptcy filing history
  • Felony status or serious driving offenses (e.g., a DUI).

A criminal record check is employed to investigate the following.

  • Specific arrests, convictions, and penalties (including parole and probation details).
  • Identifying marks and traits, like height, weight, race, tattoos, hair, and eye color.

No federal laws prevent a company from asking you about prior arrests or criminal history. In North Carolina, employers are legally allowed to ask a job applicant questions regarding a criminal past. If you want to find out about what types of questions an employer may ask, you can contact North Carolina's Department of Labor for additional information.

What to Do if You Want to Return to College or Work

If you have a criminal record and you want to go to college or apply for a good job, there are legal options available to help you. It is important to retain an attorney who can work on your behalf to protect your rights and have any applicable records expunged. If you live in or around Cleveland County or in the Shelby, NC area, contact us today for more information.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person that was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer.  So that's why I became an attorney.  I understand what you are going through—and I'm here to help you.  Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life. Before attending law school, I worked for a law firm focused on record clearing services, including expungements, pardons, and motions for appropriate relief.  The vast experience and understanding of North Carolina's expungement laws that I have acquired has given me an advantage in defending criminal charges, because not only do I fight for the best possible outcome in your case, but I am also continually conscious of the long term effects that a criminal charge or conviction can have on a person's life.  As such, I will do whatever I can to insure that my clients will not end up with a criminal record.  I was born in New London, Connecticut, but spent the first few years of my life in Dallas, Texas, before moving to Rutherfordton, North Carolina in 2001.  Upon graduating from high school, I attended Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, where I majored in Accounting.  Eager to finish school, I began law school at Charlotte School of Law the day of my graduation from GWU, and completed my law degree in two years (instead of the typical three). During law school, I studied hard and strived to acquire the most experience possible so that I would be practice ready upon graduation.  The opportunities I gained included prosecuting criminal defendants through an externship with the Burke County District Attorney's Office, defending criminal defendants through Charlotte School of Law's Criminal Justice Clinic, and interning with Farmer & Morris, PLLC. I am blessed with a beautiful wife, Gabrielle Valentine, who is an attorney at Farmer & Morris, PLLC, in Rutherfordton, North Carolina.  In my free time, I enjoy helping with the youth group in my church, playing basketball and softball in our local church leagues, serving in the prison ministry, and spending time with my family.  Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar


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Are you still not sure whether you qualify for an expungement? Do you have specific questions about your record you would like to discuss with a North Carolina attorney? Or are you ready to get started with the expungement process? Give us a call or send us a message today!