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Can An Ex Felon Become A Police Officer

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If youre like most military service members, youve spent your entire working career in the military. You know how it works and you know how to work with it. Getting out and entering the civilian world can be daunting to think about. Youll hit your fair share of hurdles along the way. As long as you expect them, they should be easier to overcome.

We asked a few veterans who are now sworn law enforcement officers some of the things they ran into during their transition into civilian law enforcement. We hope these tips help better prepare you for your own journey into the most rewarding career of your life.

Starting at the bottom

After moving your way up through the ranks, be prepared to start at the bottom all over again. This applies to officers and enlisted service members alike. You will be considered the rookie for the next few years and will have to earn the respect of the LEOs you are now working with. And be sure you can take a practical joke.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of those things that people often dont want to talk about. If you served in a combat zone or otherwise feel that you could be suffering from PTSD, seek help. Dont be ashamed about it. It can be overcome, but not if you refuse to do anything about it. has pulled together a lot of great resources about combat zone PTSD that can help you find the treatment you may need.

Being considered overly aggressive

Expunging A Felony Charge In Maryland

As stated above, several dispositions are possible if you were arrested for a felony. While a felony conviction will disqualify you from becoming a police officer in Maryland, a felony arrest or charge could be expunged from your record.

The requirements to expunge your record will depend on the disposition of your case.

If you were acquitted or found not guilty, the charge against you is not automatically expunged. Generally, you must wait three years to petition the court to expunge a finding of not guilty or an acquittal. However, if you file a General Waiver, then you are eligible to petition for an expungement immediately after the disposition is entered. This option is also available if a judge dismissed your case. A General Waiver will relinquish any rights you have to sue the arresting authority.

If you were granted a PBJ, then you are permitted to file an expungement motion after three years from the disposition or the date on which you completed the probation, whichever is later.

When the prosecution has stayed your case, you have to wait three years from the date the stet was entered.

In the situation where you were charged for a crime, but the prosecution decided to drop the charges, you are also required to wait three years before petitioning for an expungement. However, as with an acquittal or finding of not guilty, you can file a General Waiver to petition the court before the three-year period.

Benefits Of Becoming A Correctional Officer

As mentioned, working as a correctional officer does come with some good benefits. For those in federal positions, the salary and benefits package is very attractive.

Salary increases over time are standard. This means the longer you work there, the more money that will be coming in.

Many states offer merit salary adjustments that see annual increases of as much as 5%. This is up to the maximum of your job grade.

The job security of federal and state jobs is also great. This is especially helpful in what can sometimes be a volatile job market. Government hires are less likely to have their positions terminated.

State and federal jobs also come with longer and paid vacation time than those in the private sector. This can be a big help when you need some time to de-stress and spend time with family.

Depending on the state, employees may also enjoy more flexible work schedules. Those that

The health and retirement benefits schemes are also often generous and secure. Many states continue to offer health insurance to their retired employees. Employee Assistance Programs are also often included to help during times of hardship.

Some benefits may also be free or have reduced federal and state taxes applied.

With time and training, you may eventually qualify for promotions or transfer to more rewarding positions. If you pursue some higher education you may even be entitled to some additional financial aid.

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Felony And Misdemeanor Classes/levels

Breaking things down further, we find there are 4 classes of misdemeanor. The most serious is the Class A misdemeanor, which typically may encompass the following crimes :

  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Driving Under the Influence of alcohol, or Driving While Intoxicated
  • Perjury
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Property theft
  • Unlawful possession of a weapon
  • Violating a restraining order

When in doubt of what your conviction is, the felon or their loved ones may wish to direct specific questions to the felons probation officer or a qualified attorney who specializes in the field.

A Class B misdemeanor, though lesser in seriousness, may also result in disqualification for a felon to become a police officer. Again, in many cases it is up to the state as to how they classify a misdemeanor and whether or not that, in turn, blocks someone desiring to be an officer. Every state and its respective ranking system can be found here.

A brief sample of other typically disqualifying crimes includes:

  • Using or sale of controlled substances
  • Using marijuana within the past 3 5 years
  • Revocation or suspension of drivers license
  • Sexual offense

One Month Before Separation


If you have completed this checklist you should be able to spend the last 30 days taking care of your packing, checking out and getting settled into your new life.

Remember: Within the first 120 days after separation many of your benefits expire, so you should check out your options for replacing these benefits ASAP.

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Licensing Standards For Michigan Law Enforcement Officers

  • Licensing Standards for Michigan Law Enforcement Officers
  • The chart below outlines the licensing standards published by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards . Employment of law enforcement officers is subject to compliance with these standards. Agencies may set standards more stringent than these however, the burden is upon the agency to demonstrate that a more stringent standard is related to the ability to perform the essential job functions and is otherwise in compliance with applicable law.

    All preservice and agency employed recruits must be screened to all the academy enrollment standards, and all reciprocity candidates considered for employment must be screened by the agency for compliance with all standards.

    The licensing standards published under the authority of 2016 PA 289 are found in Rules 28.14203 through 28.14207 of the Michigan Administrative Code.

    Can A Felon Be Hired As A Correctional Officer

    As a general rule of thumb, a felony conviction should disqualify you from such a job. This is most conclusive when it comes to federal correctional facility jobs.

    However, at the state level, the rules are not as stringent. If you qualify and are granted a pardon or expungement, you may stand a chance. This is typically only possible with non-violent offenses.

    It also matters if you were convicted as a juvenile or adult. For instance, in California, juvenile convictions are not considered. But adult convictions, even expunged, are.

    For those with misdemeanors, some offenses are considered minor enough to ignore. This again will however depend on the particular state.

    Crimes that however involve drug or domestic violence convictions can permanently exclude you. This is whether they are felony or misdemeanor offenses.

    Here we have mostly focused on state and federal institutions. It is however worth noting that there are also private prisons and programs.

    While a government-run facility may disqualify you based on criminal past, the case may differ with private institutions. It may be advisable to consider this alternative and try to check if you meet their requirements.

    Though they may be more relaxed about felonies, also consider what kind of salary and benefits to expect. Letâs now look at the typical return you can expect as a corrections officer.

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    Requirements To Become A Police Officer

    Felon or not, every applicant that wishes to become a police officer must meet the following criteria.

    • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent .
    • Be at least 19 years of age
    • Be a U.S. Citizen.
    • Be of sound mind and have strong moral character.
    • Hold a valid drivers license.
    • Have no psychical impairments to perform the job.
    • Be fluent in English.

    There are many more qualifications that vary state to state, but the qualifications listed above are universal across the country.

    Guidelines For Becoming A Police Officer

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    Lets take a look at what is required to join the police force.

    Specific guidelines for joining the police force are not universal across the United States.

    Each state and jurisdiction sets its own standards for becoming a police officer.

    Most of the standards to become a police officer are simple and straightforward.

    Typically, to be a police officer in this country, you must:

    • Be at least 19 years old though some states require 21 as the minimum age
    • Be a U.S. citizen
    • Be of good moral character

    It is somewhat difficult to assess someones moral character.

    Certain states have a list of behaviors that are not considered acceptable.

    This often includes having a criminal history, a default on a loan or other debts, or crimes that were committed but with no sentence.

    In order to determine moral character, some states use a polygraph and others require a psychological examination to determine appropriateness for joining the police department.

    Among other factors that are important in becoming a police officer are such things as using drugs or alcohol excessively.

    Having good grades in school as well as in the police academy are important.

    Prior experience in the military or in a job that requires significant interaction with the general public is also important.

    Some jurisdictions require passing a written test of basic abilities like reading comprehension, conceptual reasoning, and problem solving skills.

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    Affordable New Jersey Expungement Lawyers $695 Expungements

    If you have further questions about how your criminal record will affect your eligibility to become a police officer in New Jersey, contact the New Jersey expungement attorneys at Katherine OBrien Law. We have handled numerous expungements on behalf of clients who were in the process of becoming law enforcement officers.

    Contact us today for a free Expungement Analysis by calling us at 856-832-2482 or by filling out our Expungement Interview Form.

    Why Do States Make It Difficult For Felons To Become A Cop

    Theres a variety of logical reasons why a person with a criminal background may not be able to be a cop. One of the biggest reasons is that all of the felons legal records would be releasable in the event that they, as an officer of the law, were called to court. The defense team for the accused could easilyand in all likelihood wouldbring up the prior felons record in order to discredit him or her, to raise the question about their legitimacy and honesty.

    It all boils down to a matter of perception. Officers are required to possess the following character attributes:

    • Integrity
    • Industry
    • Initiative
    • Impact

    The cold fact is, most jury members are not willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to a prior felon. Once their background is revealed, it will be hard to alter the perception regarding whether or not the former felonnow an officer of the lawcan truly possess all of the above attributes.

    A tiger, they say, cannot change its stripes. Whether this aphorism holds true or not, the perception will be that its true. A felon, the defense will work hard to prove, cannot be a valid enforcer of the law because theyve already revealed their true nature as having no integrity and of making a negative impact instead of a positive one. The jury will be too distracted by the case against the officers own reputation that theyll lose focus on the real matter at hand.

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    Responses To Can You Become A Correctional Officer With A Felony

  • Adam. HoltonApril 16, 2015 at 12:28 pm#

    I have worked at three correctional facilities since being released from a federal prison for three different states .I also started as a co when I quit I was a captain..I did so well I received the supervisor of the quarter before the quarter ended.I even caught several officers bringing in contraband drugs and cell phones .contact. me I will tell you more.

  • marco tjadenAugust 16, 2015 at 5:14 am#

    Hi Adam,

    How do I get a job as C.O.? I was also in a Federal Correctional Institute for a drug offense.

  • shannonAugust 16, 2015 at 7:54 pm#

    I have a felony from when I was 18 I am now 23. I was not convicted and it can be sealed but not expunged. my original dream was to be an actual officer but that seems to be out the window but regardless I hope there is something in this field for me.

  • Jacque KeepitAugust 27, 2015 at 5:53 am#

    Im 38 and had my rights restored except to bare arms. I plan on getting that back as well. My felony was evade and elude in 2005. Do you think i have a chance?

  • Taylor clauseAugust 27, 2015 at 11:01 pm#

    I have a felony that I was charged with in 2013 I was 18 at the time of the incident. It was a nonviolent offense, and to be honest I would love to be able to work as a co especially to show what a huge turn around people can make Does the violent vs nonviolent make any difference?

  • Andre BillieAugust 30, 2015 at 8:42 am#

    So how did you go by starting the process? And how can I get in touch with you.

  • Can You Become A Police Officer With A Criminal Record In Maryland

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    To be eligible to become a police officer in the State of Maryland, a candidate must meet specific statewide requirements. Depending on the city or county where you are applying, there might be additional requirements.

    The basic requirements include being a United States citizen, being twenty-one years of age or older, having a high school diploma or equivalent, and passing an investigative background check.

    As part of the background check, a candidate cannot have a felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction for a disqualifying charge, including any drug-related charges. If you have a criminal record and are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, contact our Maryland expungement attorney to determine if your record will prohibit you from becoming a police officer.

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    Choosing The Right Law Enforcement Career

    A common question received at PoliceLink relates to what a service member can do in order to best align their skills with those needed to succeed as a civilian law enforcement officer . In this section, well help you figure out which areas of law enforcement your skills best suit you for. For active duty service members, this may help you determine whether or not you need to change your specialty in order to prepare you for the field you strive to be a part of.

    The Skills Translator is a free tool that will translate your MOS, Rate, AFSC, or designator into their civilian counter parts. For example, a Navy MA 2008 has the skills needed to fill a Corrections Officer position, while a Marine Corps MP 5811 would find a good fit as a police officer or deputy sheriff.

    Using the Skills Translator will provide you with a wealth of information on career fields, different options for your current skills, or can help you figure out what specialty to change to, should have that option.

    An Opportunity For Felons

    In order to become a correctional officer, an applicant must have a clean criminal record.

    Any felony conviction appearing on a background check will disqualify an individual from being a correctional officer.

    For misdemeanors, some states will allow those who have had minor offenses if the sentence, including probation and any restitution, has been completed.

    Anyone with a felony or misdemeanor drug offense will be ineligible for this career. Most with a domestic violence offense will probably be denied.

    For driving offenses, most states do not require a clean driving record. There are states that will allow no more than two DUIS.

    In order to be successful in their pursuit of becoming a correctional officer, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. Lying about their conviction will prevent them from becoming a correctional officer.

    Felons deserve the chance to show they can be good employees.

    If a felony isnt disclosed but found on doing a background check, this constitutes fraud and is a punishable crime which would require an attorney and could result in their being sent back to prison.

    They are already viewed as being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

    Having their felony expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a correctional officer.

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    Can You Become A Police Officer With A Criminal Record

    It depends. Sometimes, you can become a police officer with a misdemeanor conviction.

    Many police officers previously had some type of criminal record.

    Most often this was a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

    It will depend on the misdemeanor and how that crime would impact your work as a police officer.

    Among the misdemeanors that would likely prevent you from joining the police force are such crimes as any involving violence, perjury, or theft.

    Many jurisdictions will limit accepting you as a police officer with a Class A misdemeanor.

    These include such crimes as assault with bodily injury or a second DUI.

    A Class B misdemeanor like drug possession or a first DUI in the past 10 years could result also disqualification.

    The types of criminal offenses that often disqualify someone from becoming a police officer include:

    • Use of a controlled substance other than marijuana
    • Use of marijuana within the past three to five years
    • Sale of any controlled substance at any time
    • A felony conviction
    • Having a revoked or suspended drivers license in the past three years
    • Conviction of a sexual offense

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