I can’t get a job because of a mistake I made at 17, resigning when my boss will explode, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I can’t get a job because of a mistake I made at 17

When I was 17, I made a mistake and got into a fight with my father. The end result, even though he never pressed charges, is a permanent violent felony conviction. I’m 19 now. (The idea was that they didn’t want to saddle my father with the cost of a lawyer, so they charged it as a felony, which bumped it up into adult criminal court, which meant I was eligible for a public defender. The state’s attorney herself said she thought it was a load of bull, but state law says she must prosecute it, under one of the domestic violence laws.)

I’ve actually been offered very good IT jobs, but all of those offers are always rescinded after the employer runs a background check. When they see the word felony, suddenly my skills and qualifications and experience go right out the window, and I go from “When can you start?” to “Please leave.” The problem is, even after telling someone the whole story, they usually understand, but I run into the big P word – Policy. Or, I’m told, “I don’t handle that decision, but I’ll talk to the guy that does, and we’ll call you right back”, and I never hear back from them again.

Am I forever barred from a corporate IT job? Am I destined to ask “do you want fries with that” for the rest of my life? What can I do to assuage the fears of hiring managers that are running away from an imaginary boogeyman?

It can’t be sealed or expunged, after any amount of time, for any amount of money. That’s not an option. The plan right now is to petition the governor for a pardon, but my biggest fear is that, even if granted, it might still show up in the NCIC (FBI’s big computer) and still show up in a background check, and then I’ll get the cold shoulder for not disclosing it. It’s just a little depressing for all of my talents to become a moot point because of something stupid I did when I was a kid.

If you haven’t talked to a (good) lawyer about sealing or expunging it, that’s the next move here. A good lawyer might be able to do something others said wasn’t possible. And while you’re waiting to see how that plays out, I’d recommend (a) applying to smaller employers, because they’re much less likely to do background checks and so it might never come up at all, and (b) networking your ass off, because once people know you and your situation, they’re going to be much more likely to bend the rules for you than relative strangers will.

You might also see if that state’s attorney who told you it was a load of bull would be willing to write a letter for you to that effect, which you could then show to employers.

Good luck with this. Please keep us posted.

2. What’s the best way to resign when your boss will explode?

I work for a very small nonprofit and love my work, my colleagues, and the external partners I get to work with. My supervisor, who is the ED, is the reason I am leaving and the reason for the high turnover.

I have been offered a government contract position, but am unable to start until the background check is complete. I have been warned by all my colleagues of the ED’s behavior when someone resigns. She has fired employees immediately, or if she has allowed them to stay, has created horrible working conditions, become (more) verbally abusive, and in one instance, physically assaulted someone. A former colleague said after she turned in her notice, the ED trapped her in a room, pushed her up against a wall, and screamed at her because she was paranoid that external partners don’t like her and she wanted their names. She was right – her reputation is well known; I am asked constantly by external partners about the work conditions and her behavior. She demonstrates irrational, volatile, and unethical behavior; she is a bully and an abuser. While the entire staff support one another, no one has any trust or confidence in her, everyone is job searching, and all of us experience intense anxiety and stress – one colleague even miscarried because of the stress put on her at work. My health has seriously declined while working here and I have taken more sick leave than I probably have in my entire career.

As I quietly look forward to the day I am able to leave, I wonder what is the best strategy to depart? I want to be professional and support my colleagues, but I have been put through so much abuse that I want to quickly and quietly depart by turning in an immediate resignation, simply because do not think I have the emotional stamina to endure a final three-weeks under even worse conditions.

Give two weeks notice because that’s the professional thing to do and you don’t want to cede the high ground. However, be prepared to leave immediately if she tells you to or if she’s abusive to you. If she’s abusive, you should simply say, “I’d like to work the remaining two weeks and I don’t want to leave the organization in the lurch. However, I need to be treated professionally during that time. I’m not willing to continue to be berated. If we can’t work together without the hostility, it would be better for everyone if I left now.” And then follow through on that if the poor treatment continues. (Make sure that you’re prepared for this possibility, which means having all your things all packed up, personal stuff removed from your computer, etc.) There’s more advice on doing this here.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Replacing someone who was killed at work

I’m starting a position soon that replaces one of the people who was killed in a recent workplace shooting. Is there anything I should say or do differently when I start? While I obviously won’t be asking questions like, “so what happened to the person who used to work here?” I’m sure that opportunities will arise where I might ask “How did Wakeen do this?” or “Do you know where he would have put this file?” I could possibly also see some resentment or possibly bringing up some bad memories now that there’s someone there to replace them. For what it’s worth, there is an EAP program, and I know they had counseling available after the incident, and I plan to ask my HR person (as opposed to my direct colleagues/supervisors) if there are resources available should I feel it’s needed.

That’s going to be tough for all of you. One of the best things you can do might be to go in knowing that — don’t define success as “no difficult moments around this,” because there surely will be some. And I think it’s okay to ask how the person before did things when you really need to; there might not be a way around that, and I don’t think most people will want you to pretend the person before you never existed (in fact, doing that would be likely to upset people too). But people are unlikely to resent you; they’ll get that you’re in a difficult spot.

And once you get to know people a bit, you might feel comfortable saying something to people directly something like, “This is a tough role to come into, obviously. If there’s anything I’m inadvertently doing that’s making things harder on you, please let me know.”

4. When I traveled for an interview, the employer’s credit card was declined at the hotel

I recently traveled for a job interview in which the potential employer paid for the flight and was supposed to pay for the hotel. It’s a small company so a VP made both arrangements, and provided his credit card number for the room at a first rate hotel. Upon checking in, the hotel said the person’s credit card company was denied. I paid for the room, and collected the room receipt indicating the last 4 numbers of my card. I did not raise this before or after the interview, and left to catch my flight. I know this company is good for the expenses, and I expect there was simply an entry error. I would appreciate recommendations on how to proceed.

Email your contact there with a copy of the receipt and say, “Unfortunately the company card that Bob put my hotel room on didn’t go through, so I put it on my own card when I checked out. I’m attaching the receipt here. Could you help me arrange reimbursement?”

5. Should I visit the job fair booth of a company I just applied for a job with?

I found a government job and the deadline for the online application is August 8. On September 16-17, they have a booth at a job convention. I plan to attend to see them in person since it is so hard to actually meet a recruiter from that department. I’ll be equipped with my resume that I sent online. At the convention, should I mention to the representatives that I’ve already applied online, or should I act like a curious passer-by? What are the chances of them actually taking interest in me as an applicant or as a passer-by?

You definitely shouldn’t act like a curious passer-by who has just stumbled upon them, because you’re not! Walk up, introduce yourself, and explain that you recently applied for the X position, and that you’d love to talk more with them about it if they have time. They might not be equipped to talk with you about that particular job on the spot, but if nothing else, you can expect them to be willing to talk with you about the company in general, its hiring process, and roughly when you might expect to hear something back.

{ 326 comments… read them below }

  1. Sal*

    #1- IT skills? Start your own business. You will learn skills and gain a reputation so that if you want to work in an office (why anyone would if they had a successful business, I don’t know) Really. Ex-cons have a horrible time- best to accept that work as freelance consultant and start own business.

    Yes, see if you can get expunged, but in mean time- join some IT entrepreneur meetups.

    Good luck.

      1. Sal*

        I bet not harder than getting a job with a record. It can be done and if you are desperate, that can be the impetus. People will pay for website design ( not sure what you do)- charge less at first build a following etc

        People make on the side, work their own businesses every day- it’s totally possible and achievable. A corporate job with a record….that’s near impossible.

        1. Llywelyn*

          No no no a thousand times no.

          Telling someone to go create a business since they have “skills in IT” is like telling someone right out of high school to go start day trading because they are good at math. They might succeed, but the success will be the exception.

          Founding a business you can actually make a living from is *hard*. Side businesses are one thing–especially when you’ve already been in industry–an actual career that you start from the ground up, by yourself? The paperwork alone has a tendency to drive people insane and there are numerous traps along the way for the unwary (taxes, articles of incorporation, how-to-llc…). Not to mention that everyone underestimates the hours to actually create something valuable.

          This also assumes no desire for, say, health insurance and the ability to live off of someone else for a while.

          Is it doable? Sure. I’d even suggest looking for a startup since they are less likely to want to run a background check. But starting one yourself with no business experience and just “IT skills”? Not as a general piece of advice. No.

          Meanwhile, I can’t even remember the last time–in the software world–I’ve had a background check run before I got a job (I’ve had more for apartments than for jobs). AAM’s advice of looking at small companies is spot on: They are much less likely to run the background check

          1. Sharon*

            I agree with you here. Most people who flippantly say “just start your own IT company” forget that there is much, MUCH more to running your own business than IT skills. It takes a large amount of salesmanship and marketing, which often aren’t skills that people drawn to IT naturally have. It is possible to do, just extremely difficult and actually pretty rare for a young individual to have both technical and sales/marketing skills.

            1. Sal*

              Nope. Totally disagree. I think this attitude reflects the fact most people never even try to start a business. First of all- it can’t hurt to try while looking for a job. Secondly, the “paperwork” is nominal for a small business. An attorney for under $200 can incorporate for you. Buy a tax program for taxes.

              Expungement is much more difficult, but of course should be pursued if financially possible.

              And with background checks costing next to nothing, small businesses run them all the time.

              1. Sal*


                I wanted to share an idea: post to your local virtual garage sale on facebook. I just saw a young man do so, and get over 50 responses of interest in services.

              2. Liz*

                You’re forgetting the most important part of a business: having customers. If you’re just starting out, you don’t have any, nor do you have any references.

                I’ve been an IT contractor, as has my husband, and a number of friends, and it was *hard*, even though we heavily utilized our existing network of contacts. Also you’ll need a good accountant to ensure you get all the tax refunds/credits for which you’re eligible, and don’t try to claim for things which aren’t worth it (or which will put you in the IRS’ sights for an audit) otherwise you’re throwing money away. (My husband learned that the hard way.)

              3. Heather*

                The reason most people never try to start a business is because

                It takes a large amount of salesmanship and marketing

                – and you don’t have to actually start a business to be aware of this.

              4. LQ*

                I think that you’re forgetting that most small businesses fail. Not only do they fail but often in a way that causes foreclosure, bankruptcy, and financial ruin.

                1. Cucumber*

                  No, they don’t often fail in a way to create a ruin of the business owner’s life. That really depends on the business.

                  Someone opened up a mailbox service not far from where I live, closer to the service I’ve been using for several years. He was a nice guy, about 55, and was trying to drum up business, but he didn’t know much about social media or publicity, so I made some suggestions, because I just felt bad for him. He confided that he had bought the franchise and invested his retirement in it. His storefront didn’t make it a year. THAT is how a person’s small business failure can cause foreclosure, bankruptcy, and financial ruin.

                  The OP on the other hand, is a young person who has never rightly started on his career. He has no retirement to invest (unwisely) in a franchise. He doesn’t have prior small business experience, but he also can’t get the employment experience he needs – like millions of millenials, but in worse shape because of the felony case.

                  There are many businesses that can be begun with small investments, and reap rewards on a part-time or full-time basis. Mystery shopping, social media consulting, copyediting, IT troubleshooting, cleaning and janitorial services, grocery or clothing shopping assistance. These are legitimate businesses and none of them require investments of more than a few hundred dollars. I wouldn’t suggest that the OP buy a franchise of any kind, go into multi-level marketing, or open up a doughnut shop, coffeehouse, or other restaurant.

              5. Anonsie*

                As someone who’s had a lot of “quick and easy” things that need to be reviewed by an attorney in the last few years, I guarantee you it will cost a lot more than that.

              6. Simonthegrey*

                It’s still a lot of hard work to start a business (I know; I have one). You have to eat, breathe, and sleep it, and it takes a while to start making appreciable income at it. Also, not everyone has the temperament or focus to work at it. My small business is a side business for that reason. Sure, it’s AN alternative, but it might still be outside of what this person feels comfortable or capable of doing.

      2. Stephanie*

        +1. The idea of running your own business tends to get romanticized and is thrown out as the solution if you can’t find a job. It is a great option for some, but this might not be the best for OP1. It wouldn’t be the easiest without a track record of success elsewhere. Plus, running your own business doesn’t just involve the task or service itself, you have to be able to do marketing, negotiating, budgeting, billing, accounting, client management, taxes, etc (or figure out what needs to be contracted out). At 19, I’d imagine that to be tough.

        1. Jen RO*

          And who would hire a 19-year old without a track record and a company to back up his experience? I’m not saying it’s absolutely impossible, but it’s very damn hard.

          1. Heather*

            +1 to both this and Stephanie’s comment. It drives me nuts when “just start a business!” is tossed out there like it’s just that easy!

              1. MilitantIntelligent*

                Seriously! Same thing happened to me. I think people say that because they don’t know what else to say. But as the saying goes, it takes money (and experience) to make money (and gain experience).

              2. Gina*

                Also “start a blog.” About what??? Even if, without work experience, you happen to have some esoteric knowledge about a popular subject…well, there are some awesome blogs out there with 0-2 comments per entry.

                1. voluptuousfire*

                  ^ This. Both suggestions have been thrown at me by a very dear and well-meaning but clueless friend. Oh yes, she also suggested I become a writer because I like to write! LOL.

                  All 3 of those topics require passion and desire and drive. I have passion, desire and drive, just not for those things.

        2. Red Librarian*

          Exactly. Starting a business is one thing.

          RUNNING a business and maintaining it and getting customers and making it profitable and turning it into a viable source of income is another beast entirely. There’s a reason most new businesses fail within the first few years.

        3. Simonthegrey*

          To me, it sounds just like when someone says they are infertile and the response is, “you can always adopt.” In the realms of feasibility, that is possible, just like starting your own business is possible. However, it’s not as easy as the person who tosses it off seems to believe.

    1. De (Germany)*

      Also really hard depending on what you do. While website design might often be done by freelancers, software development or system administration is usually done by employees or companies with more than one employee.

      1. Kate*

        By the way, what about freelancing itself? It could create a good portfolio, give experience, and provide OP for the living. I know plenty of IT people who are doing freelancing for years. And as a bonus they get to live where they want. All you need to start it – is Wi-Fi and a laptop – if you’re in IT.

        1. Kate*

          Plus any record has a statute of limitations. It should be something like 10 years in the worst-case-scenario. Even though 10 years seems like eternity when you’re 19, it will still pass at some point (and only 8 yeasr are left). And in case OP would have like the same 8 years or freelancing experience and proper portfolio, he could enter the real market easily when he is 28.

          As a worst-case-scenario, of course.

          1. Natalie*

            “Plus any record has a statute of limitations.”

            I’m not sure what you might be thinking of, but criminal records generally don’t “expire”. A statute of limitations would only apply if OP had never been charged.

            1. Kate*

              Sorry, I was not speaking of something I know very well. My husband had some kind of record – probably, not criminal – which expired after few years.

        2. Eden*

          It’s really, really hard to start freelancing in web design/development in this very saturated market without a good network of folks who will hire/refer you. My husband started freelancing after completing school for web development 2 years ago with a HUGE network base (in his previous industry), and is just starting to really ‘make it.’ I’m not sure I’d recommend this path to someone who is 19. I don’t mean to detract from the freelance suggestions, but I want to make sure OP has some realistic expectations.

          1. Kate*

            I agree, I actually tried starting freelance work myself a few times, but given I had no portfolio on that particular web resource, I was not even considered. Although, I know people who does freelancing for many years. So I figured maybe I could have started in a wrong way

            And I realize it is not easy. But, this is something that OP can give a try to without any expenses during his free time, while flipping burgers

    2. Elysian*

      Aside from the difficulties others have mentioned, I’m not sure this is the best way to go for the OP. OP is 19, and this happened at 17. There’s not a lot of distance there. And even though OP seems remorseful in the question and recognizes the mistake, he/she might be in a better position to explain this to employers with some more distance. It might even be worth it to go to school (get an associate’s degree or something) and then in a few years he/she could credibly say “I was a kid. It was stupid. But I’ve done lots of good stuff since then and have had no further issues.”

      If that doesn’t make sense, AAM’s advice to network and work with smaller employers who are less likely to background check is good. After you have one job where you succeed for a while, you might find that this plays less of a role. At least, I hope that would be the case for you.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        I agree with Elysian– employers won’t really think that 2 years is a lot of distance. If not school or a small company, maybe a short-term job would give you a good track record to rely on. I know flipping burgers isn’t great, but it’s pretty common to work unrelated or dead-end jobs while looking for something better or finishing school. Work towards a good reference from a manager, and do some IT work on the side. Eventually, this will pass.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I also agree with this. I flipped burgers myself at OP’s age, and that was without a felony conviction. A lot of us have done it, and it feels like forever while you’re in the middle of it, but it’s not necessarily. I really think our culture’s derision for flipping burgers has done a lot of people a disservice (there was a really good Cracked article about this a while back.)

          1. Helka*

            I really think our culture’s derision for flipping burgers has done a lot of people a disservice

            There are plenty of Millennials who have noted the dichotomy of the “flipping burgers” narrative — growing up with it held up as an example of someone who has failed utterly at life and is going nowhere, and then boom, once you’re an adult, if you don’t want to do that then you’re “too proud” and “think the world owes you everything.”

            It’s a pretty crappy narrative all the way around — and on top of that catch-22, it also breeds contempt for people who are doing that for a living.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yes! It’s a thing with Xers (like me) too–I think the article might even have been specifically aimed at Xers. So it’s been going on for a while.

              1. Anonsie*

                Oh I love the guy who wrote that one, he has a lot of great articles. He’s in your age group and was definitely targeting other parents his age with it.

          2. Falala*

            I don’t think flipping burgers per de is what has the stigma. I think it’s the low wage associated with flipping burgers.
            Also I wish ppl would get off of their soap boxes. It seems like even small comments are fuel for rants

            1. Traveler*

              They are sometimes lenient – but only if the person has a personal connection with someone already working there and corporate policy allows. Fast food places get plenty of applications every week from people with clear records.

          1. sunny-dee*

            Not true. My aunt’s worthless stepson had a felony conviction for stealing narcotics and a condition of his parole was that he had to be employed. His first job out was at a fast food restaurant, and then he went into construction.

            1. Traveler*

              There are always exceptions to the rule, and some places that work specifically with felons to get them back into the work force (speaking of – OP should look into this as a possibility!). I said “typically”.

            2. SerfinUSA*

              I am amazed at how many construction companies hire people with inappropriate criminal records. And amazed at how many of these employees have outstanding warrants and are then caught when they pick up contractor keys at the university police department (where my partner works). They run background checks before they dole out keys, and oops!

      2. Stephanie*

        It might even be worth it to go to school (get an associate’s degree or something) and then in a few years he/she could credibly say “I was a kid. It was stupid. But I’ve done lots of good stuff since then and have had no further issues.”

        Unfortunately, OP may be limited in student loan options for school due to the felony conviction.

        1. Loose Seal*

          I don’t know about that. My student loans make me sign an e-statement every semester saying I haven’t picked up a drug felony since the last signing. They don’t ask about any other convictions and, as far as I know, they don’t do a background check. Those are the Federal loans, though. It might be different going the private loan route through a bank.

          The OP could call the financial aid office and get some advice on this subject if they decide to go the school route.

          1. sunny-dee*

            It’s been a long time, but when I applied to colleges, all of them asked if I had ever been convicted of a felony. Just the application for the school, not even going for loans or financial aid.

            1. Natalie*

              Community college might be a good option – they’re generally a lot cheaper and open enrollment, so a felony is not a bar to starting. With a couple more years of good behavior and classes under their belt, OP will have an easier time getting into a 4 year school.

            2. Mpls*

              Are those applications saying that a felony conviction is a bar to entry, or are they just looking to see if you’ll be truthful?

              1. Gina*

                I believe it has to do specifically with drug convictions due to the fear of you using student loan “living expenses” money for drugs.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  And with the fact that our criminal justice system often treats drug offenses more harshly than even violent crimes. Because we’re screwed up.

                2. Natalie*

                  It’s actually changed recently and no longer applies to possession felonies, just sale. That makes me think it’s definitely a more punishment-oriented law.

    3. Traveler*

      I don’t know why people are reacting so harshly to this advice. Yes, at 19 with little real world experience a job would be preferable but I think discouraging a route which may end up being the only option for awhile (saying “I was a kid then” when you are only 19, and the incident happened when you were 17 isn’t going to fly with most companies) is not really fair to the OP. They need to be exploring all routes possible. “Starting your own business” doesn’t have to mean starting your own brick and mortar business with employees and a grand marketing scheme and health insurance providers etc. If this person is being offered “good IT jobs” they might also have the skills to do one off jobs or contract work. We don’t know without more elaboration from the OP. Their marketing scheme can be directly emailing people in their network, using social media, and other avenues to produce leads. Obviously this will not automatically materialize into a full time immediate income, but its something worth pursuing when you’re not otherwise engaged with applying for positions.

      I don’t think anyone was trying to imply it was easy or an overnight solution so much as this might be one of the few viable options left for the moment. Having that time filled with efforts to work on those skills and create a network, and attempts to find some form of work is way better than nothing.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Likely because as presented the suggestion is not well thought out. Small businesses routinely fail and drag their owners’ financial well-being down with them. It’s also not really a solution to OP’s problem.

          1. Sal*

            OK- now you this thread is devolving into pettiness. Really- where’s your life plan for this guy?

            No one said invest thousands- actually what I said was believe in yourself. We read on here people literally assaulted by employers and they ask is it OK not to give two weeks and face possible assault.
            Something is wrong here- many people are capable, without an employer, to survive and even thrive. I believe a third of Americans are in collections (bills in arrears) and I bet most are employed by employers, in other words you can go broke without ever having tried to be your own boss.

            1. Ethyl*

              I’ve worked for several small business started by people with passion and drive and good business sense and only one is still around, and that is the one that the owner’s uncle started back in the 70s and that he took over sometime in the early 90s. It’s just not a good solution for most people, and especially not for someone who is 19 with no professional work experience or schooling. I don’t think that’s petty. Also — plenty of people have offered “life plans” for “this guy:” Talk to a lawyer about getting your record expunged/sealed. Take some classes. Get a lower-paying job doing something, anything, and build a solid work history with references that can mitigate the felony.

              And sure, people fail all the time without starting their own business. That doesn’t automatically make the two choices (start a business or work for one) equal for all people.

            2. Fabulously Anonymous*

              “many people are capable, without an employer, to survive and even thrive” – while that may or may not true, IMO, many people have no training in how to survive and thrive without an employer. It’s not something we teach in our public schools.

            3. neverjaunty*

              Having a felony conviction is also going to make starting one’s own business a lot harder – getting insurance, licenses, loans, referrals, becomes more difficult, and then there are some things where OP will simply Not Be Eligible.

        1. Traveler*

          But Sal didn’t say “start a small business” he said start your own business or do freelance consultant work. If its just a business of “me” and you’re working out of your home, and the service you are providing is your skill, the start up costs can be minimal. Small businesses fail because people think they have to be massive ventures. They don’t – you can dabble and see how it goes before taking out a bank loan and risking your financial well being (which may be difficult anyway given the felony).

          I don’t understand how its not a solution to OPs problem. One of their questions was if they will have to spend the rest of their life saying “do you want fries with that?” If the answer at least for now, is that no – without an expensive lawyer, time, and luck you cannot get a corporate job, this is a solution to their secondary problem – which is potential employment outside of fast food (and as I mentioned before the OP might even be hard pressed to find fast food work with a felony record).

          1. Dan*

            Starting his own business *is* a solution. It is not an *easy* solution. As presented, Sal’s initial advice of “start your own business” comes across as naive and out-of-touch.

            Not having a client base and existing work experience is going to make it very difficult for the LW to start his own business.

            1. Traveler*

              I agree that it’s not an easy solution but this person has a felony record. I don’t think there is going to be anything easy, cheap, or quick about getting out of that situation.

          2. Colette*

            But all the time he’s putting into this hypothetical business is time he’s not spending making money at whatever jobs he can get. Maybe he can afford to do that – but maybe he needs to be able to spend money on food or rent, and it sounds to me like he might be already employed in a fast food job.

            If he’s not employed at anything and he is willing to put in the time and effort, it might be a reasonable thing to try – but it’s definitely not something everyone can or should do.

            1. Elysian*

              Agreed – there’s an opportunity cost to starting your own business, and I think the OP’s energy is better placed elsewhere (given his age, experience, and the likelihood of the business becoming a success).

      2. Dan*

        At 19 though, I’m curious what the OP’s definition of “Good IT jobs is.” Yes, IT is one field where you don’t have to have a four-year education to succeed, but it’s also rare to get what *I* would consider a good IT job at 19 without ever having gone to college or having an established track record.

        At 19, I thought a good job was one that paid more than minimum wage and would let me schedule my work hours around school schedules. Add a few years, and that “good job” has to come with close to a six figure salary (or better), a healthy 401k match (better than 5%), health insurance, and a month or more of vacation. Ooop, don’t forget a 40-hour work week and flexible hours.

        1. Traveler*

          Agreed. That’s why I made sure to say they might have the skills. I really don’t know as OP didn’t elaborate and “IT” can be an umbrella term for a lot of things – some in demand skills, and others not so much. I just assume that if they are being offered more than one job, that they are in possession of skills that might be useful and therefore marketable.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          IT is one place where you don’t HAVE to have a four-year education to succeed, but jobs options are getting increasingly limited without one. Many, many IT jobs do require a degree now, and he’ll be competing against those with a degree for the few which don’t. In fact, if he’s not planning on going to school (which I would strongly recommend), self-employed might be one of his best other options, hard as it is.

          1. sunny-dee*

            Even that, though, he should focus on getting hardware and software certifications. If he’s trying to build a career on a few computer-ish high school classes, it is going to be hard going.

      3. Rose*

        I think it’s mostly people are responding strongly, because what you described is more like looking for some freelance work (at least in a lot of people’s minds). I think if Sal had said “Look for some freelance work; I bet you could find enough to stay afloat!” people might have responded very differently.

        1. Ethyl*

          +1 to that. Like I said above, I’ve worked at small businesses that have mostly failed, so what I hear when someone says “start your own business” is “your employees won’t get paid and you’ll eventually fold owing thousands of dollars to people.” YMMV.

    4. The LeGal*

      #1 – One of your other issues is that this felony is so fresh. You are less than two years removed from it. If you are not able to get this expunged, the passage of time will create some distance between you and this felony.

    5. Cucumber*

      I agree with Sal, this is something that has been done by many young people with technical skills. I always advocate people starting sideline businesses while they look for work or work part-time, because it changed *my* life. If you’re underemployed, working for yourself and starting your own projects will allow you to be part of the conversation in ways that are hard to fathom when you’ve always just worked for other people, climbing the ladder.

      And there are even better examples – eg Michael Dell starting his business in his dorm room, etc. One of my acquaintances started his IT consulting firm when he was 16 and he’s still going strong almost 2 decades later. If OP wants to provide technical support and training – selling his knowledge skills, rather than say, something that would require more money and setup – it’s possible to keep it very lean and mean.

      OP, if you’re reading this, give the Small Business Development Center nearest you a call. It’s free and provided by the Small Business Administration. They have a library, and can provide several weeks of free consulting – they can hook you up with an accountant, and a lawyer.

      I also took a very low-cost training course they offered – about $70 for maybe five weeks? – and at least 20% of us were in our early teens and twenties.

      I’m not saying the additional caveats aren’t valuable – yes, it takes time to build contacts, customers, and learn how to manage aspects of a business. But the reality is that OP has been turned down many times for jobs he’s qualified for.

  2. ForestPlot*

    #2….. I am so sorry. Give two weeks, the minute she bothers you…LEAVE and don’t look back. You have a new job and would never count on her for reference- so unless you need the $$, leave with no qualms. :-)

    Enjoy your new job.

    1. Concerned*

      I agree with No. 2. It is not worth the harassment to try to stay professional. Although my story is different, you should not have to try to please people who will treat you differently out of spit. I left a publishing company after almost a decade of working there, gave my two weeks notice and even prepared two weeks of work following my leave to help my co-workers. I was told by my boss on my last day there that the staff was “way too busy” to do any type of farewell for me and I was just given a card. The new job I had I got over a former employee whom I had many issues with (similar troublemaking behavior) and when my colleagues got word of where I was working, it was made to sound like I “stole” the job from this person.

      1. Rose*

        Just one thing… there is NOTHING unprofessional about leaving a work place immediately when your supervisor is actually abusive.

        1. anon-2*


          In fact, it IS the professional thing to do… an employee has his/her own professional standards to uphold.

          If managers decide to take a low road, or, shall I say, travel in the gutter, then it’s incumbent on the employee to walk out. You don’t want them dragging you down with them. You have FIRED them already…. if they can’t accept that, well… maybe it’s best to leave before your manager does anything else that’s stupid.

    2. money lady*

      This is a non-profit-where is the board? They should be notified of this abusive behavior. Unfortunately, most boards, IMHO, don’t want to know about the day-to-day running of the business but this is something that they should be told about.

      1. Cucumber*

        Great point. Let the board know what’s going on. They have to be concerned about the high turnover …

        1. Kara*

          And the physical assault. I’d press charges if anyone, particularly my boss, shoved me up against a wall. If nothing else, the board should be made aware that she has such a (deserved) terrible reputation in the field.

  3. Artemesia*

    OP’s story is heartbreaking and I am stunned that his family didn’t do better by him than letting him get stuck with a felony conviction at 17. This should have been arranged to be expunged at the time of pleading. It is common for felony convictions to be expunged in a year for young (but adult) offenders. They don’t guarantee it at the time but are usually open to it in a year or so.

    The OP needs a lawyer to sort this out so it isn’t hanging on his neck for decades. I know two men who were involved in the same dumbass stunt when they were 19 — one got his expunged after a year having served a little time — the other one didn’t get that done and still finds it bars him from some travel and jobs.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      This is like the sex offender registry. Way too many people are on it for stupid, thoughtless things they did when they were kids.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Too many people are on there because of one ticked-off parent. A different story for a different day but, yeah, there is incredible unfairness for some people.

      2. Rose*

        My X was on it for peeing in public (late at night, in a park where kids liked to drink) as a drunk 17 year old. The cops came, he lied about being drunk, and they arrested him for public exposure like he was some kind of creep. Thank god he got it taken off.

        1. anon-2*

          Depends – here in Mass. there is a three-tier sex offender list. L1 is the minor stuff – public lewdness, indecent exposure, selling a dirty book to a 17-year old, etc. But some folks found themselves on the L1 list – peeing in public or a woman taking her top off on a beach, where it’s deemed acceptable but not legal, and she gets a ticket from an overzealous park ranger.

          L2 = people who committed felonies. L3 = felonious predators.

          Some complain that there shouldn’t be a level 1 list at all. Others remark that some that should be on higher tiers negotiate their way to L1.

      3. YogiJosephina*

        My brother in law is on it for putting suntan lotion on his daughter. I’m not kidding. He had to serve a year in jail.

        It’s a longer story than that but that’s really the gist of it. Watching his experience has taught me two very important lessons: 1) never let a cop talk to you without a lawyer and 2) the justice system in our country is an absolute sham.

          1. BOMA*

            The conviction and jail sentence, not the fact that he put suntan lotion on his daughter, I mean.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is a good example of what is wrong with our court system.

          I am sorry this happened to your family.

          1. YogiJosephina*

            It was beyond awful. It was a vindictive ex-wife who never forgave him for divorcing her, and she swore revenge. We still to this day don’t know how they got the daughter to go along with the story, but it was beyond evil. And I NEVER use that word. His life is basically ruined.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              When will our court systems wise up to this? I have seen cases like this and it still continues to happen.

              All I can do is just refuse to believe everything I see in the news. That is one side of the story, it may/may not be the whole story. But I question what I read for the sake of people like your BIL.

              1. Yogi Josephina*

                It’s so hard, because we know that less than 1% of rape allegations are false, and women have been silenced and robbed for so long by a patriarchal system that tells the world that they’re making it up, that we don’t believe them, etc. And before this happened, I would never question, internally or externally, whether or not a woman was falsely accusing her aggressor.

                But then one day, you’re all of a sudden a) yourself or b) related to/know someone who is part of the less than 1%, and that’s it; from this moment on, you’re going to ALWAYS WONDER. I feel like this experience is so harmful on so many levels. While I will still never outwardly question a victim’s claimed experience, there is no denying that in the back of my mind, I will be asking myself, “…how can I be 100% sure you’re telling the truth?”

                And I HATE THAT. I REALLY, REALLY HATE THAT. It’s awful.

    2. Dan*

      I’m just having a hard time keeping all of this straight. The kid gets a PD to “save money” and in exchange gets the rawest deal possible. I am curious who the “they” is in the op, because usually its the states attorneys office who decides how and where to prosecute these things.

      1. Stephanie*

        Unsure if this was the deal with OP1’s case, but there is definitely an issue with overworked PDs picking the path of least resistance and encouraging plea deals (that aren’t always advantageous to the defendant).

        1. attornaut*

          To be fair to the PD office, a public defender has no say in how a case is charged (adult vs juvenile) and OP makes no claim of being innocent. The fact that he is not currently in jail for a felony assault that he was guilty of and based on his statements doesn’t seem like he served time, I’d say the PD encouraging that deal was probably the right decision.

          1. Loose Seal*

            In my state, you are in the adult system at 17. There is no bargaining about it.

            I am appalled that you (not necessarily “you” the OP but anyone in this situation) can’t get a public defender as a minor, though. Or at least a guardian ad litem.

            1. sunny-dee*

              You can, but the assumption is that as a minor, your parents should pay for your lawyer first, just like the assumption is that as an adult, you should pay for your own counsel if you have the money.

            2. fposte*

              I don’t think the issue was that minors can’t have public defenders, it’s that the issuing of a public defender is based on the family income for minors and the OP’s family exceeded the threshold and would have to go private; feeling or policy dictated that since that would have the victim paying for the offender’s lawyer, that wasn’t acceptable, so they made the OP a de facto adult whose lack of income then qualified her for a PD.

              I’m wondering if there isn’t some better precedent for handling this–presumably it’s come up in domestic violence between partners.

          2. Office Mercenary*

            Also, sometimes the prosecutor’s office will add charges that they know they can’t prove in court to add more pressure for a plea bargain. If the PD is honest with their client, they’ll say, “Look, there’s a 90% chance I can convince a jury that the single punch you threw was not in fact attempted murder, but there’s a 10% chance the jury will convict.” A lot of people in that hypothetical would plead out on the attempted murder rather than risk years in jail.

          3. Anonsie*

            I’m not going to come down on right or wrong decision, since realistically I don’t know enough to say, but this is a raw deal given the actual circumstances and it’s extremely unfortunate that the OP is in this lot now regardless.

            Someone I grew up with had a similar situation for a non-violent charge as a teen, and the lasting impacts are just so disproportionate to the offense.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I could be mistaken, but it sounds like OP was made independent of his father some how, so that OP could show very low to no income and in turn, qualify for a public defender.

        1. Elysian*

          I read it that since the offense was committed against the father, they charged OP as an adult so that the father wouldn’t be stuck with the obligation to pay for the lawyer for his ‘domestic abuser.’ Regardless, it sounds complex and it probably best discussed with a good lawyer.

          1. anon-2*

            In most cases a first offense will result in a continuance, not a conviction. And juvenile courts are the place to adjudicate these things. To get everyone in the family talking, working through it all.

            And any employer would think that, see my reply below. Above all things, you don’t want to be brandished with a record.

              1. anon-2*

                According to the OP’s post – it was “elevated” to adult court so he could get a public defender.

    3. neverjaunty*

      “Letting him get stuck”? Are you serious?

      1) at least in much of the US, the discretion of how to handle domestic/family violence cases rests not at all with the victim, for reasons we’re probably all aware of. OP’s family, once the matter was reported to police, may well have had ZERO ability to influence how the court system handled things.

      2) You do realize you just blamed, among other people, the person OP #1 violently attacked (Dad) for the consequences of OP’s actions?

    4. Observer*

      We don’t really know what happened, so it’s hard to make a judgement. On the one hand, it’s possible that it was a really dysfunctional family and parents who really didn’t / don’t care about their child. On the other hand, it could be that it was more that just a run of the mill argument with a bit more heat than usual. The fact that even though his father did not choose to press charges, it was decided to charge him, indicates that this is possible, I would think.

      I think Alison’s advice is on the mark. Get a lawyer to see what can be done about sealing / expunging this. Apply with smaller companies that are less likely to have inflexible policies and do background checks. Network your head off. And, in the meantime, build a stellar reputation as an employee and co-worker. Not just in terms of your work ethic, but in terms of how you are to get along with.

      Lastly, I wold suggest taking a good hard look at how you got here. It’s all good an fine to say “I did something stupid but it shouldn’t be held against me.” The question any reasonable employer is going to have is whether this says something about your capacity for violence, or even just a somewhat out of control violence. If you need, to get some help (eg if you still have an issue with anger management) please do so. Even if this was really and truly mostly your father’s fault, this kind of self assessment is a good idea. This lets you say, honestly, to a prospective employer “I was a stupid, angry kid. But this was a wake up call for me, and I’ve been doing x, y and z to make sure that something like that never happens again.” It’s not going to work for every situation, but in a case where an employer is willing and able to be flexible about this stuff, this tells him (or her) that even though it’s only a couple of years, there has been growth and you are really not likely to repeat that kind of behavior in the work-place.

  4. Ann Furthermore*

    #3 – I can’t imagine going into a situation like that, OP, and I wish you the best of luck. I think it would be OK to ask your manager how to proceed, how the team is doing in the aftermath, what he or she thinks the best way to proceed is, and so on. To ask your co-workers these things could be perceived as weird or ghoulish, but your manager should be helping you navigate this very delicate situation.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      *oops — repeated myself. I meant to say you could also ask your manager if there were any interpersonal type things to be concerned about, like if the co-worker was very close friends with anyone else — things like that.

      1. cuppa*

        Ooh, good thought. Honestly, I think showing sensitivity and acknowledgement is the best way to go here. There are going to be awkward and difficult moments, and I think putting that all out on the table and being forthcoming in a situation like that will go far. Best of luck, OP.

  5. Patrick*

    #2 – Personally, if my boss had a history of assaulting and abusing people when they resigned, I wouldn’t think twice about quitting without notice. You have to draw the line somewhere, and I think personal safety is way more important than “being professional” in this case.

    I would formally submit my resignation to someone above that boss (or the HR department) and give them all of the gory details of past abuse (in writing) as an explanation for why you are not sticking around. Tell them that your own safety is at risk…if what you said is true, then it’s not a lie. It’s doubtful you are going to get a good reference out of such a crazy person, even if you gave two weeks, so why put yourself in harms way for no good reason? When you get an offer, talk to some of your co-workers in advance and see if any of them will agree to provide a reference for you in future job searches. If they are also searching, then I’m sure you can return the favor.

    If you do decide to stick it out, give her once chance and leave at the first sign of abuse. Just my 2 cents…

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I tend to agree. OP, knows there is a solid risk of getting physically pushed around. Maybe my thinking is faulty here, but to me that means the rules are tossed out. No notice, I’m gone.

      OP, maybe make a trip down to the police station to see what has to happen in order to have a chargeable offense.
      Also, maybe you can get someone to witness the conversation when you hand in your notice.

      I just don’t understand what kind of leaders keep a boss like this in place.

      1. tina*

        Not mention why she was arrested! Did the employee who was assaulted call the cops? Though I can understand if you’re already leaving, you probably wouldn’t want to deal with all that and just want to get away asap.

        1. LBK*

          I’d guess at that point you just want to be done with the person, and when weighing never having to see them again vs. potentially going through months of criminal proceedings…the former just seems easier and safer for your mental health.

    2. majigail*

      It sounds like this person is the ED of a nonprofit which means the only person above them would be the board of directors who, in a well functioning organization, don’t handle staff or HR matters other than the ED. However, I think that in this situation, it might make sense to also send an email or make a call to the president of the board to let them know what’s going on with the ED.

      1. Paloma Pigeon*

        How could the board not already be aware if a staff member had been physically assaulted in the office? This opens up such a legal can of worms it can threaten the viability of the entire organization. The entire staff needs to sign a letter, or request an offline meeting with the board chair. If any of this has already been done and the board hasn’t responded, then they are not doing their job.

    3. LBK*

      I think it’s worth giving 2 weeks up front just on the off chance that it ends up being okay and the OP somehow survives the 2 weeks without losing her mind. In that case it’s going to reflect better on the OP in the long run.

      However, I do think it’s perfectly acceptable to cut the notice period short if needed. Like Alison says, I would be prepared to get out at the moment’s notice. Like, no more than 5 minutes between when the OP decides the situation has gone south and when she walks out the door with all her belongings and doesn’t come back.

      1. Bwmn*

        I agree with this.

        I could have (probably did) write a version of this letter last year. I worked for a nonprofit with a crazy difficult ED. Quitting was hard, and I was concerned that she’d act out. And I was also pretty cowed after having put up with her for 3 years. While she didn’t react well, overall it wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared. I was prepared to accept having to leave early or just tolerate an increase of abuse – but it never came to that.

        Also – for future references in addition to listing her I also listed a coworker/mentor. The ED eventually flaked on giving a reference at all (too much work), but my coworker gave a glowing review and I feel like part of that was because my giving the full notice helped him out with the transition.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Given that the boss has a history of actual violence toward employees, that “off chance” is a pretty big one to take.

    4. Anonathon*

      I would rarely suggest this, but in this extreme case, I would submit your resignation to the Board. Write a very professional, straightforward account of your experience and explain that you fear for your safety, were you to resign to your boss directly. Not only is the ED setting the organization up for some serious legal issues, she is damaging the mission by (quite literally) pushing away those that help carry it out — both things that the Board should know.

      That said, it’s possible that the Board knows and doesn’t care (or is willfully ignorant because the ED is friends with a few huge funders). In that case, I agree with AAM. Give two weeks, and then fully prepare to get out of there way faster should the need arise.

    5. A Non*

      The comments in favor of giving two weeks notice seem to be operating on the assumption that professional behavior requires treating the boss as thought they’re a reasonable person, despite piles of evidence to the contrary. We wouldn’t (I hope!) advise that someone in an abusive romantic relationship try to break the relationship off in person, in private because that’s the “moral high ground”, why would an abusive work relationship be different? Abusive, bullying people are not owed normal standards of treatment by their victims.

      The boss is already abusive. Is the OP supposed to quit the moment the boss does another business-as-usual abusive thing? Or supposed to wait for her to intensify her behavior? What about if she yells about the OP quitting, she yells all the time anyway so does that qualify?

      For the OP’s health and wellbeing, I suggest skipping straight to the end game and quitting without previous notice.

      (This is a topic I feel strongly about, can you tell?)

  6. Stephanie*

    Alison, these letters are some doozies.

    #1 – OP1, this is heartbreaking. Please take heed of Artesmia’s advice and see if you can find a *good* attorney to help get the record expunged. I’d try contacting your local bar association to see if they can refer you to low-cost legal aid. I will spare everyone and not get ranty about ex-convict employment discrimination. Definitely try smaller companies. My last job was at a sort of small company (about 100 people) that didn’t have the resources to do background checks on new hires.

    #2 – Ugh. She physically assaulted someone for resigning?!

    #3 – Holy crap. Yeah, I think it’d be weird to act like the now-deceased coworker never existed. Perhaps your new manager can fill you in on how he did things and the interpersonal relationships with other coworkers?

      1. Katie in Ed*

        Mine too! Alison’s responses here are measured and thoughtful, but I can’t help but think she must open her inbox sometimes and be like, “Really? REALLY?” I don’t know if I could keep it together.

        1. Heather*

          I know, right? I would probably have to do about 800 revisions of my first draft, which would be along the lines of “WTFingF????? What is WRONG with people??? Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ on a cracker!”

  7. James M*

    Looks like it’s Wednesday again.

    #2 Don’t endure trauma in the name of professionalism. Make the gesture of 2 weeks, but have one foot out the door, just in case.

  8. nep*

    #3 ‘Don’t define success as “no difficult moments around this”‘ — This advice from Alison is spot on. Can be applied to a lot of different situations too. Sometimes we get hung up, seeing glitches or difficult moments as failure; but accepting them, facing them, learning from them, and moving on — this is powerful stuff.

    1. Chinook*

      #3 I can guarantee that there will be awkward moments because you will be walking into a job with unfinished work. Normally, one would grumble about seeing why someone was fired or get sympathy from colleagues about chaos. You, though, can’t risk speaking ill of the dead and will have no idea where she was in any project or what info died with her (after all, we all have unofficial procedures or info we carry around that we should right down).

      I would recommend asking colleagues how the employee did things and be willing to listen to off topic answers about the individual because grief mat pour out with stories about the employee and this may give you nuggets of info you never thought to ask about.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Yes, I would worry a bit about this, and start planning how to deal with it. A friend of mine took a job where the last person, who was liked by all, died suddenly in an accident. My friend unfortunately found lots of problems with this person’s work once she got there. No one really knew how badly things were, so my friend ran into a huge amount of resistance when she tried to clean things up and start doing things the correct way because some people there took it as her saying negative things about the coworker who died. It was a very difficult situation for my friend to be in.

    2. LBK*

      Completely agreed – I think that’s advice that can applied to basically every tough situation where you’re struggling to overcome something, be it professionally or personally.

  9. Sarahnova*

    OP#2 – definitely do what you need to do to keep yourself safe first and foremost, including being ready to leave right this minute when you actually give your notice. From what you said, the ED’s rep is widespread and people outside the organisation will absolutely understand – and there is nothing to save in your relationship with her.

    That said, can I ask you to be very cautious about saying things like this woman’s behaviour “caused a miscarriage”. Nobody ever knows for sure why a miscarriage happens, but they are nearly always caused by an underlying problem with the foetus or the pregnancy. There is no evidence that miscarriages can be caused by stress, and to say that they are can make women who have miscarried feel terribly guilty. I can understand if the woman in your office feels that the stress “caused” her miscarriage, and I certainly wouldn’t argue with her, but I wouldn’t repeat it either.

  10. Proud Socialist*

    #2 – If this woman has a bad reputation within the industry and has a history of verbal and physical assaults, why on earth has she not been sacked?
    Her bosses must know about her reputation surely.

    1. Adam*

      This is what I wondered about. If the it’s a non-profit it probably has a board of directors in some fashion. Even the smallest ones usually do. Does this one have one sleeping on the job or none at all?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Some small nonprofits have phantom boards — ones that exist in name only. I had a friend who worked for an organization where the “board” was the ED, plus the ED’s elderly sister and brother. They were not involved, to be it mildly.

  11. Juli G.*

    OP1, a lawyer is worth it. You are at most, two years outside a violent felony conviction with no job experience. Regardless of policy, that asks a company to take a huge risk (my company doesn’t automatically exclude anyone but we look at how long ago and the offense when deciding which is why I think even companies that see gray instead of black and white will struggle).

  12. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    That’s terrible, just terrible.

    FWIW, our company of around 200 doesn’t run criminal background checks unless it’s a financial position. AFAIK, there’s no point in the hiring process where the question is even asked (although there may be something on the paperwork that somebody fills out upon hire that I’m unaware of).

    We are probably more typical of mid/smaller employers than the reverse so see if targeting those kinds of companies, as Alison suggests, helps.

    1. Felicia*

      I’ve always worked at companies of 10-20 people and none of them do background checks. I’ve seen a lot of companies that size that require IT people so you should try those! Someone recommended a start up and IMO that’s a great place to look – especially with places like IT, they tend to be much more focused on what you can do, and I think they rarely run background checks.

      1. HarperC*

        Yes, but I can’t think of an application that hasn’t asked if I’ve ever been convicted of a felony. I’m just curious, if OP1 checks back, if you bring this up in the interview or wait for them to find out and then make your explanation. If you can, you may want to try bringing it up earlier in the process and see how that goes. Then, it’s not a surprise when the background check happens.

        Also, if you are reading this OP1, I think things will get better the more years that go by. I agree that maybe looking for a job at smaller companies would help get you through this time and also, absolutely check in with a lawyer if you haven’t. I am so sorry this is happening. You seem like a really bright person. This is another reason I hate blanket policies in HR.

        1. Karowen*

          There are a lot of states and localities that have made it illegal to include asking about that on an application – they can’t ask until they’re ready to do a background check.

          Also, this may sound weird, but OP1 should consider applying for jobs in California. They have laws in place that restrict a lot of things that are common for background checks in other parts of the country.

            1. Karowen*

              Yeah, some states have ban-the-box laws, some specific cities are doing it – It’s doing a slow creep across the (more Democratic-leaning) states. And then on the other hand I believe there’s a very Republican state that passed a law saying that a town/city/whatever in that state *cannot* pass a ban-the-box law.

              1. bearing*

                FWIW Nebraska has a ban-the-box law and it is fairly red; so did Colorado, which is mixed; and plenty of states that haven’t passed them are blue. I don’t think this is purely a Republicans-are-bad-and-Democrats-are-good situation. You have to work on everybody who thinks they must be “tough on crime” to stay in office. It’s going to have to be a bipartisan effort.

          1. CAA*

            OP #1 needs to do a lot of research before moving to a different state. In particular, California would not be a good one for his situation. Employers can and do ask about felony convictions here. The main protection we have is that an employer must provide a copy of your background check if he denies employment based upon the results.

            Also, if a 19-year old is not already living in California, he’s not going to be able to move here on a starter IT salary. In this case, we’re talking about someone with no degree and no or little work experience, so what he means by “IT Job” is almost certainly troubleshooting and fixing PCs (similar to what Geek Squad does, but within a corporate setting). This is the bottom of the totem pole on the IT spectrum and it doesn’t pay very much. California (at least the parts where he’d likely find a job) is an expensive place to live.

            1. Karowen*

              They can, but California limits some of the reporting (I can’t remember what specifically) and I know San Francisco has a ban-the-box law. And you’re correct on the moving, I shouldn’t have been so cavalier about it – It would take OP1 take some research and I never advocate moving anywhere without a job lined up!

          2. HR “Gumption”*

            4 states and some localities, a large majority still ask. Still, always good to check up on state and local laws.

            1. fposte*

              It’s not law, but the EEOC has come out with “enforcement guidance” on criminal background checks as part of hiring. Which I basically read as “We think this mostly sucks, but all we can do is tell you that it may get you into trouble under Title VII.”

        2. Meg Murry*

          Also OP#1 – are you disclosing this to the employers before they run the background check? It may be awkward, but I suspect part of the issue is that the companies feel you’re not being completely honest with them if they find out about the felony conviction through the background check process and not through you. It would be better for you to present your story BEFORE they get the background check results, not after. Something like this:
          Interviewer: “Do you have any questions OP?”
          OP (after asking any other questions he has): “What are the next steps in the hiring process?” or “What happens next after this interview”
          Interviewer: “blah blah blah, background check, blah blah blah ”
          OP: “About that background check … [explains story in a few quick sentences] … Is that going to be a concern?”

          It still might eliminate OP from some jobs that can’t look past it, but its better than letting the employer find out about the felony conviction on their own and feeling lied to, or jumping to the worst conclusions, especially depending on how the charges are worded on the background report.

        3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          We don’t have applications. We advertise jobs, you send us a resume, we don’t use applications.

          There is a paperwork that is filled out on the first day of work. I don’t know what all of that paperwork is. It would be pretty lame to ask the question THEN, but I can’t say it doesn’t exist on that paperwork.

          It’s never come up.

          1. Felicia*

            I have had some places where some of the paperwork you fill out on your first day does ask if you were convicted of a felony, and I agree, it’s lame to ask then.

            We also don’t have applications, and don’t do background checks.

        4. Felicia*

          I can’t think of very many jobs I’ve applied to in the past year that use applications. Some do, sure, but the majority it’s just send in a resume and cover letter.

      2. Anonymous*

        OP here,

        The current place I look for work is Craigslist. Places like Dice and Monster cost money to the employer, I’ve found they don’t use it for entry level positions.

        Craigslist is a trickbag and I thought it would be the best place to find smaller companies as you’ve described, but oddly enough it’s either one person who needs help or a large company with the resources to check my “bad person” certification.

        Where would you recommend finding work with smaller companies?

        1. Eden*

          Hi OP,
          No doubt about it, you are in a tough situation. It sounds as though you do not have a super duper relationship with your immediate family, but my advice to you would be to start thinking about whatever network you currently have: people from your high school, your family’s church or any other kind of community, or extended family, anyone you know who you could reach out to

          I would advocate reaching out to your network for two things: as many have said, a GOOD lawyer, and job referrals. I commented above on the suggestion that you freelance, and that could work for you if you have a large network, but it’s pretty hard to pay rent, etc. with the extremely variable income from beginning to freelance.

          I’d keep looking at Craigslist, and if you haven’t looked on Indeed, try that also; there are lots of large corps but some smaller mom-and-pops mixed in there as well. I’m a huge fan though of going through people you know, and letting your network know you’re looking for something. You may end up taking a non-ideal job for a while, but given your situation, I think it’d be worth it to work at a kind of subpar job for a couple of years while you and your excellent lawyer you’ve located through your network work through getting your record sealed/expunged/whatever.

          Good luck!

        2. Becca*

          I found my last job on Craigslist and they were a small company that did not background check….granted…they were a horrible company but Craigslist isn’t…terrible I guess for that.

          Might also want to look at Indeed or your cities’ online newspaper. The classifieds there might be useful.

          My current company uses LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder and we do background check, but I’m not sure if it’s criminal.

          Good luck to you though, OP. My dad is a felon, so I understand how hard it can be. He ended up starting his own business, but he has 30+ years of experience.

        3. RecruiterM*

          While Dice and Monster may not advertise for entry-level positions, you can use those job boards to find which companies are hiring, and go directly to the company site to check the full list of openings. Also you can post your resume there, and be found.
          You can also try Glassdoor.
          Good luck!

  13. Not So NewReader*

    OP1. This is where our legal system fails us, over and over.
    Your case accelerated very quickly. If this is a first time offense, I don’t understand why they came down so harshly. It would seem a conditional discharge would be adequate here- meaning have good behavior for x period of time and the charge goes away.

    Who is “they” that did not want to saddle your father with a legal bill? It sounds like some type of collusion there, a railroading that might be questionable. Courts have rules as to what types of cases get heard in what type of court. Additionally, there are clear guidelines of what is a misdemeanor and what is a felony.

    I also am confused about the youthful offender status and not sealing the case. wth.

    Alison is right- I won’t be as kind as she is- I say get a REAL attorney. Someone who has compassion and has the willingness to go over your case with a fine tooth comb. You may interview a handful of attorneys before you find that person. Some of them may not be very nice/polite- ignore them and find someone else.

    There is one thing that I can think of that might be running in the background. Attorneys might be afraid that further examination could cause your case to be reopened and the original charges to be brought back. In other words, you could have to go through this case all over again and expose yourself to a high risk of a bigger penalty.

    When I was 17 I got into a big accident. I remember the police, the lawyers and EVEN my own father told me EXACTLY what happened in that accident. That was remarkable because none of them were there at the time of the accident. And what they said happened did not mesh with what my friends and I saw. I tried explaining but there was no one listening. I got railroaded because of my age and my own lack of understanding. I will never forget what I saw in the adults around me.

    Keep going until you find that person who can listen. It’s not going to be easy. But it’s won’t be harder than what you are going through right now.

    One final thought- KNOW the law code that you have been charged with violating. The law is identified by letters and some numbers. Know those letters and numbers. It’s a one in a million long shot- but if that law is ever declared unconstitutional you want to know that and you want to get a lawyer to help you.

    1. Elysian*

      I agree with your advice about consulting an attorney, but I think you’re reading a lot into the question that the OP didn’t write – “accelerated very quickly” and “came down so harshly” and the legal system failing us and collusion? We don’t even know what the OP actually did. Consulting a lawyer is the best advice not because of any failing of the legal system, but because OP can have a full and frank discussion with that person so they’ll actually understand the problem, unlike all of us strangers on the Internet.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        +1 – I’m going to guess some type of injury and/or weapon was involved due to the circumstances/punishment described, but we have no idea. We also have no idea if this is a first offense or not. OP never details whether or not they had any DV issues in the past and/or other run-ins with the police prior.

        It definitely does sound like OP has good reason to look into this further with an experienced lawyer, but we don’t have anywhere near enough information to make assumptions about collusion or railroading.

        1. Chinook*

          The other thing to remember is that, when it comes to DV, some places have laws that do not allow the police or prosecutor to choose not to prosecute (as a way to counter the old mind set of never believing the victim or down playing the offense). DH was one of the first victims under this in one of the provinces and even he admits he deserved his then girlfriend’s reaction when she found him in bed with another woman (think screaming, yelling and throwing something at him). But, because someone outside the room heard the yelling and caleld the cops, the gf was charged and convicted of DV. He tried to convicne the cops to give him a warning but no dice – they had no way to confirm that this was a one time event vs. a common occurence.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Many pluses. We don’t know anything about where OP lives or the laws of that jurisdiction or what the options were. A good attorney in OP’s area will.

    2. fposte*

      “Attorneys might be afraid that further examination could cause your case to be reopened and the original charges to be brought back.” I’m not seeing the likelihood or even the mechanism for this, though. The OP has already been convicted of the original felony charge, and they’re not going to go back and open a new case for something lower like disorderly conduct or something just for the heck of it. Were you maybe seeing the father not pressing charges as an indication that there’d been a different disposition? I think that’s just standard domestic assault–in general in the US the state presses charges in domestic assault regardless of the victim’s interest in prosecution.

      1. Artemesia*

        If he was already convicted of a felony, it isn’t getting worse. It may not get better, but odds are good that it should. Unless the father was seriously injured, I can’t understand a father who would allow a 17 year old’s life to be damaged permanently with a felony record. Of course we don’t know the crime, but the fact that the guy is not in prison now suggests it was not one that caused serious harm.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Not all fathers are loving and caring. Maybe that was part of the problem. But we don’t know what happened. I echo the advice to seek a competent attorney.

        2. Anonymous*

          OP here,

          My father, literally for this reason, spent 2 hours with the state’s attorney trying to have this reduced or dropped. The big reason he did not reduce the charges is because of a small incident that happened since, a child in another country sent in a bomb threat with my name on it, knowing how our country handles such things.

          By the the time the FBI stepped in and told everyone what was really going on (the kid admitted to it in a sting) , I was already branded.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am thinking that this is the aspect of the case that you need to follow up on. I kept sensing that there was more to this story. Looks like this could be it.

            Can you get formal, signed statements from the FBI that would clear your name?

  14. Aimles*

    #5 in federal government, most jobs go through usajobs.gov. There is a very complicated qualification review (often based on Veteran status). So even if your a great candidate, the hiring manager may never legally be allowed to consider you. There are some exceptions–if your applying to a health care job at the VA, VA has direct hire authority. Attorneys are excepted service (for all purposes direct hire). You can look up this info on the job announcement or http://www.opm.gov. Also, if you have any kind of psychiatric disability (ADHD, depression, OCD), you could get Schedule A certified and be direct hired for any federal job. Unless you’re one of the exceptions or are a Veteran, then going to the job fair won’t hurt you, but may not help. You’ll just want to monitor the status of your application on usajobs and if you are referred to the selecting official that’s a good sign. If you’re applying to state jobs, ignore above.

    1. Anon*

      And for many federal government jobs, the people attending the career fair have little to no influence on the hiring process. The only exception I can think of is college career fairs, where you may get a leg up if they recommend your resume to hiring managers AND the department has one of the hiring authorities that allows them to essentially direct hire recent grads to entry level positions.

      As for the online application, USA Jobs postings are only open for a short window, and typically cover very specific employment series. If you are willing and able to work at any one of multiple locations or qualify for multiple OPM series, keep applying. You may not have made the cert list for one series or there might have been lots of candidates for location X and not enough for locations Y and Z.

  15. Fun-&-Games*

    I just “love” all the advice on #1 to look for companies that “don’t do” background checks. Seems dishonest, and what do you think will happen later if/when it comes up somehow? Then it’ll be a felony AND a ruined reputation. The latter can do as much damage as the former, possibly more. (A felony won’t call everyone and spread the word, but a misled employer or colleague could be downright vindictive and put it upon his or herself to make sure EVERYONE knows about it.)

    IT is probably not a good career to pursue at this point. Maybe programming. In general, felons are definitely going to be kept out of jobs involving access to money and someone that can control the entire company infrastructure is just too close to it. Just like registered offenders aren’t going to be able to work around kids. Fair or not, that’s how it is. 19 is too young to not make an adjustment and take up a new arc. You can spend your life fighting the system or you can move on to something else.

    Look for start-ups willing to consider the circumstances. Definitely pursue expungement. Just don’t try to “sneak” into something and hope they won’t notice. Bad idea.

    1. Gwen Soul*

      There is a difference between lying and saying you have no felony and looking for places who won’t ask/check. If they don’t ask and don’t check are you saying the OP has the obligation to tell them he or she has a felony on their record?

      Some of these companies may still be in a gray area of the law since to deny employment based on past convictions has to be job related in some states.

      1. Kelly L.*

        The biggest issue I see is that almost every application I’ve seen in recent years–whether it was for a customer service type job where there was a paper app to fill out, or whether it was for a white-collar job where you send in a resume but there’s also an online app to submit–asks explicitly if you have a felony. So the OP is probably going to have to disclose it for a lot of jobs.

        A lot of them do, however, have a space to explain about it, and it’s likely not a dealbreaker for some jobs. (There’s usually language saying that a “Yes” answer isn’t an automatic disqualification but that a lie is.)

        Definitely a lawyer is a good idea.

        1. Felicia*

          Most of the jobs I applied to in recent years don’t actually have an application form – you send in a resume and cover letter and that’s it. Though I agree it’s true most application forms ask, I don’t think most white collar jobs use application forms (just judging by the 150 such jobs I applied to in the past year). In the ones that do ask there often is space to explain about it.

          1. Kelly L.*

            When I was job searching last year, most of the jobs I applied for–even the “send in a cover letter and resume” type jobs–also had an online app you had to fill out. (Curse Taleo to the seven hells.) It usually had a section about felony history. Many were in academia so maybe that’s different.

            1. Gwen Soul*

              “Curse Taleo to the seven hells”

              Dear lord yes! I don’t know who they sacrifice the goats to, but this system seems to be everywhere and no one, hiring manager or applicant seems to like it!

              1. Chinook*

                I know – we want to sacrifice the goats ON the master Taleo servers. That should appease the IT gods and make it next impossible to repair :)

        2. Missa*

          It will depend on where you’re located – my homestate (Minnesota) recently banned asking this on applications. Employers don’t look into that until they’ve moved on to the backround check stage of hiring (if they do this), and by then hopefully an applicant will have explained something like this during an interview.

    2. Naomi*

      How is it dishonest? There’s nothing wrong with not answering a question that was never asked.

    3. LBK*

      If a company doesn’t ask about it and they don’t do a background check, how the hell is it considered dishonest to not bring it up? Here’s a thought – maybe they actually don’t care about someone’s past and just want to know what they’re capable of now. Which is how it should be, especially for people like the OP.

    4. Red Librarian*

      If a company doesn’t run a background check, perhaps it’s because they don’t care. How on earth is it dishonest of the employee to not answer a question that wasn’t ever asked?

    5. Juli G.*

      I disagree that it’s sneaky. If a company doesn’t ask, why disclose it? OP should absolutely not lie if asked but if it’s important to the company, then they should ask. And even under the toughest “ban the box” ordinances, a company could ask and require him/her to disclose.

    6. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      That doesn’t make any sense. Should a recreational pot user in a non-legal state bring up, “Oh, by the way, I smoke a little weed every other weekend. I’d feel as if I were lying if I didn’t bring it up.”

      1. Elysian*

        “I was going way over the speed limit on the way here, and if I had been caught it probably would have been a reckless driving violation. I just felt like you should know. Oh and also, I’m thinking about getting knee surgery within the next year or two. I haven’t decided yet, but if I do it’ll probably put me out of work for at least a few weeks. Just thought you should know.”

        Yeah. There’s no need to answer a question that wasn’t asked.

        1. Dan*

          I’m getting married soon, and will want a long honey moon. Also, kids are certainly in the future, I’m thinking of having at least three.

    7. Stephanie*

      I can’t imagine it’d come up after he was hired. Smaller companies just usually don’t have the resources to do a background check and won’t care once someone is onboarded. Commenters (myself included) were just suggesting it as a way to get some employment and experience.

    8. R the Manager*

      I can honestly say that there are smaller companies that just care about butts in seats and view background check paper work as a hindrance. They’re not usually the best places though, so due to massive turnover they’re always looking.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        FWIW, our choices are intentional.

        We’re a family owned company (I’m not family but upper management that agrees with the family). Our choices not to drug test, criminal background check or credit check are because we believe that we don’t have a need to cross those boundaries into someone’s personal life.

        We make an exception for financial positions for all three of those. In that case, we do have a need to know if someone who has access to company money has serious debt problems or uses drugs stronger than pot.

        If we had high value merchandise on premises, the need for those checks might extend to folks besides financial.

        (We do check resumes – we verify employment history & degrees. Lying, we weed out.)

        1. AVP*

          Agreed – I care way more about doing the kind of detailed reference check that should weed out problems in the areas I’m actually concerned about. What you do over the weekend, or personal issues that will have nothing to do with your professional life, don’t affect me or the company.

          Also, background check paperwork takes almost no times to do. It’s more of a boundary issue and an issue of whats appropriate and what isn’t.

    9. Anonsie*

      If they don’t do background checks, it’s because that’s not an issue for them. There is nothing dishonest about looking for work in companies that don’t care about looking for the conviction in the first place.

  16. Not So NewReader*

    OP 3. You might be able to help yourself and your coworkers transition by just saying the truth. Say things like “I cannot imagine what you guys went through and are still going through, I am so profoundly sorry for your loss.” It’s true, we have no way of knowing what all these folks went through and are still processing.

    For some people, the phrase “I cannot imagine…” releases something inside them. It acknowledges the hugeness of what happened and at the same time reminds them that you are powerless to fix it.

    Which is where you want to be. You can’t fix their loss, no matter how badly you want to. Drag that fact out into the light of day for all to see. It’s humbling and empowering all in the same stroke. You can do your best work everyday, that is all you can do. So this could look like “Whatever I can do to help you, please come tell me.” This helps people to think about what is going on today that CAN be handled.

    May time be kind to you and them.

    1. HarperC*

      I think that is excellent advice. I really don’t think there will be resentment against OP3, but if the previous person is never mentioned, people may start to feel as though OP3 doesn’t care what happened, which is not the case.

  17. MaryMary*

    OP 1, it may also be worth talking to a social worker or potentially your parole officer to see if there are any work programs you could take advantage of in your community. I used to volunteer with an organization whose mission it was to help difficult to employ individuals find jobs. Most of the people in the program had felony convictions, some violent. The employers who worked with us were aware of our clients’ past, and were willing to hire those who completed the program. If you’re in northeast Ohio, the organization is called Towards Employment. If you’re not, hopefully you can find something similar! Good luck.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, I was going to suggest asking for assistance at job & family services, or through a parole officer if OP has one. Some states have programs aimed at helping people with felony convictions find jobs – I know one company I worked for used it, as they got a tax break for hiring people in that program. Most of the employees hired through that program were in a factory/manual labor type job, but we did have IT staff (and trouble keeping them) so an IT job may not be impossible.
      I would also agree with others to see if there are any programs you can use to take classes toward an associates or bachelor’s degree, and to see if you can get on-campus work as a student. When I was in school the best paying student jobs were IT related, and having extra credentials and experience may also help OP toward finding a job. Note that I did NOT suggest OP put himself in a lot of debt to pursue this degree – that would not be a good choice, but it OP can find a program to help pay for part/all of school and on-campus IT work or a program that places its students in internships it would probably be worth it.

    2. Red Librarian*

      I used to work at one of the prisons in NE Ohio and would often direct soon-to-be released inmates towards various programs and organizations like that, excellent advice!

    3. Mints*

      Yes good point! I thought this while reading and forgot

      I also wonder if doing some kind of certification program would help to get accesses to job placement help (like a few courses at a community college, or a vocational school if it’s not too expensive)?

    4. hellcat*

      Yes, this – I’m a criminal defense attorney, and a lot of my clients struggle finding work because of their backgrounds. OP1, if you’re on probation or parole, check with your officer about programs like this. I know the probation officers I deal with often have a lot of good information about places to look or even job fairs where a record won’t be an issue.

  18. Sloop*

    OP1, have you considered moving? I know, tough with no money! In NY and in MA**, employers cannot discriminate against people with criminal records unless the job is directly related to the crime (no bank tellers for people convicted of theft, for example). Not sure how DV charge would impede any sort of IT job. It might not be the worst idea to get away from your parents, as well. Not trying to “project” on you, but it sounds unfortunate to me that your parents basically let you twist in the wind when it comes to this situation. FWIW, my college boyfriend was arrested for DV against me, and as the victim, I never needed an attorney. I am unclear why your dad (“victim”) needed an attorney and why that would bump you into adult court with felony status. **They can, of course, not hire you for other reasons…but it sounds like you’re interviewing well, getting to the point where they’d run the background check, and then rejecting you and telling you it’s because of the conviction, which wouldn’t fly in Mass or NY.
    Would you consider going back to get an associate’s degree? You might luck into an internship that way (I interned in college and it was through the professor/unpaid, so I basically just showed up where they told me to without filling out any sort of paperwork like a W-2 or I-9). Not ideal, but maybe a way to get experience.
    Is there any sort of programs for people with criminal convictions? Did you serve any time? In NY and MA (the only two states I am intimately familiar with) there are programs to help former “criminals” (I hate that word!) get jobs and re-integrate into society. Yes, people screw up all the time, but it SHOULDN’T be a reason to never get you a job because of it. Not sure of the state you live in, but I’m sure people would have some idea of resources available to you if you wanted to provide.
    Also, I would definitely reach out to a local law school – they have resources for low-income people and this could be a good case to bounce off a legal mind. They would honestly probably get a professor involved (it sounds like this has the potential to get messy) but at least you can walk through what happened with the legal student and make sure YOUR understanding of the situation is correct, so that you can try to fix it any way you can.

    1. A Dispatcher*

      “It might not be the worst idea to get away from your parents, as well. Not trying to “project” on you, but it sounds unfortunate to me that your parents basically let you twist in the wind when it comes to this situation. FWIW, my college boyfriend was arrested for DV against me, and as the victim, I never needed an attorney. I am unclear why your dad (“victim”) needed an attorney and why that would bump you into adult court with felony status. ”

      From my understanding, OP is the one who needed the lawyer, but as he was 17 at the time, his parents would be responsible for the legal fees. Also, I am not so sure we should be assuming his parents let him to hang out to dry. His father did NOT press charges, but the state can and will prosecute it as a crime against the state. It’s unclear whether or not the father was consulted about the lawyer fees before any decision was made.

      1. Sloop*

        I understand now ; I re-read the letter and now see how that line should have been read (that Dad would have been responsible for the cost of the lawyer for OP, not that Dad would need a lawyer for Dad.)

        What I am failing to understand is why the way the OP was charged was changed, based on the family’s financial status (didn’t want to burden Dad with cost, so bumped it to felony/adult – does that mean if the parents wanted to or could afford a private attorney, OP would have been charged as a juvenile/misdemeanor?) This is where I think the OP should get a better handle on the whole process because I don’t think *he* understands everything that transpired (and why it did). I only have experience with clear-cut adult assault cases so I feel like my experience would bring little additional value to this conversation (i.e., person is arrested and provided with a PD at arraignment, then you figure out if you qualify for additional PD support or need a private lawyer). I don’t know how the layers of bumping juvenile to adult court cases work so don’t even want to go down that path!

        Either way, the family dynamic doesn’t sound ideal to me because OP assaulted Dad (100% NOT victim blaming, you never should hit, a verbal fight should not escale to physical, this very welll might have been 100% provoked by OP, etc. etc. etc.)

        In my opinion, if Dad COULD afford a lawyer but let his kid get a PD/charged with a felony rather than pay for a private attorney and be charged with a misdemeanor (OP to pay back the loan, etc.) that’s screwed up. Yes, I am all about taking personal responsibility, but there’s taking responsibility and owning up to your screwups and paying the price, and then there’s a felony conviction. I don’t know if OP’s parents could afford a private attorney, but I have friends that have been charged with multiple DUIs, and my ex with his assault charges (nice ibanker from Greenwich with his 7 arrests), and their lawyers have been no more than $10k per episode.

        $10k is NOTHING to sneeze at, and obviously not everyone can come up with that money, but many attorneys work on payment plans and $10k is probably a high estimate for a first time, misdemeanor charge (again, working off the assumption that a private attorney would have left the charge in juvenile/misdemeanor land). I would beg, borrow, and steal (OK, not steal!) to do anything in my power to make sure my kid wasnt’ charged with a felony if it could have been a misdemeanor from the get-go.

        One last note, it sounds like while the case was OP vs State, that Dad did not want to convert the case, testify, etc. In MA and NY, most courts will drop cases or offer an ACD if the victim does not want to go forward. I almost wonder if there were additional issues prior to this arrest with OP or if the evidence was damning enough that the felony conviction would actually stick.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Well that’s all great speculating on what the victim of a violent attack SHOULD have done and the financial lengths he should have gone to, but since you are admittedly just speculating, maybe it’s not very helpful to OP #1 to post about how much more supportive parents WE would have been in that same situation?

          1. a*

            I agree – we are missing far to much information to make a value judgement on either the OP, his parents or the situation.

            1. Dan*

              Take out the value judgements, and there’s still plenty to raise questions about how the case was handled. Questions the OP should be asking, and answers OP should be demanding. At 19, he may not even know what questions to ask.

              Those of us with experience in the system are trying to figure out why what is presumably a first-time offense resulted in a felony with little, if any, jail time. The implication was that it was a misdemeanor that got bumped up to a felony. All that because the state thought dad shouldn’t be the one who had to pay for a lawyer?

              Something is smelly, and if the OP can get a handle on that (or find a lawyer who will) there may potentially be an appeal for ineffective counsel. I think that’s the general path most of us are heading down.

              Now if things are less smelly, and the OP is leaving out a lot of juicy facts (like pointing a gun at dad, and less serious charges before that) that warrant the felony charge, then well maybe the OP deserved the charge he got, and needed the fallout to really think about what he did.

              Something is smelly, and the OP deserves explanations, and potentially an appeal based on ineffective counsel. Or it’s not smelly, the OP is leaving out facts, and he got what he deserved.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I agree. There’s a lot more pieces to this story. All the more reason to hire a compassionate attorney who can listen with both ears.

          2. Sloop*

            I would love to see where speculating isn’t allowed in the AAM rules, and better understand why you think it’s helpful for you to make judgement calls on my opinion.

            1. GeekChic*

              Sloop – you’re posting on the internet. Everyone gets to make judgements on it. If you don’t like others calling you out on overspeculative posts (which yours was) maybe you should think before you post.

        2. doreen*

          That’s actually not entirely accurate with respect to NY. What matters is not whether the victim wishes to go forward , but whether the charges can be proven without the victim’s cooperation. In many cases, they cannot be but in my own experience, ( I work in community supervision aka parole) I have seen charges proven with third-party witnesses, security camera footage, admissions made by the defendant when the police arrive, recordings of 911 calls etc.

          Now back to the OP- I’ve seen plenty of people get good jobs after a criminal conviction. What I’ve never seen is someone get a good job two years after a conviction unless they had 1)some sort of formal training or a college education or 2) a long work history prior to the conviction. It doesn’t mean all hope is lost- but it’s unlikely you’ll get a good job in your field of choice immediately. If you are under supervision, ask your parole officer about ex-offender organizations (and if not, call legal aid or just do a Google search) They frequently offer job training, sometimes subsidized employment and often have connections with employers and trade unions. In fact, organizations of any sort that work with a lot of ex-offenders often give them preference in hiring. ( drug treatment programs and homeless shelters and job programs need IT people , too) Some public community colleges also have special programs for ex-offenders.

          There is one point on which I disagree with Alison- the state’s attorney is not going to write you a letter stating anything close to it was a “load of bull” but she prosecuted you anyway. She might, however, be willing to write you a letter saying that she believes you have rehabilitated yourself, that there haven’t been any further incidents, that you successfully complied any conditions of your sentence , etc.

          1. Sloop*

            Yes, if there’s clear cut proof (witnesses, camera, etc.) the court can and should move ahead. If there isn’t solid “proof” and non-cooperative victims, the state may decline to prosecute. That’s anywhere, given the nature of DV cases (victim doesn’t interview or wish to convert the case, state’s case is valid but weak(er) as there’s no smoking gun, DA’s office may very well decline to procecute if strapped for time/resources/money.)

            I am thinking specifically about the Bronx, the borough has a policy where if the victim isn’t interviewed by prosecutors within 24 hours of the arrest, their DAs almost always drop the case right then and there. (Google “Criminal Prosecutions at a Low Rate in the Bronx, a Report Finds” in the NYT from August 2012 for more information). Brooklyn is different, they prosecute nearly all DV cases (“A Comparison of Two Prosecution Policies in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence”). YMMV, of course.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      I would also check out Equal Justice Works, which is a nonprofit that works with lawyers/law students to provide services for underserved populations. Their website may provide information for low-cost legal aid in your state.

      1. moe*

        Another option is checking with local law schools – most have legal clinics staffed by students (and overseen by faculty).

        In my state, violent felonies simply cannot be expunged, so you’d need something remarkable about the process that would allow for challenging the conviction or guilty plea (and I’m not clear, from OP’s letter, which it was).

        1. moe*

          I now see that it was a conviction (oops). Whether a bench trial or a jury trial… someone believed, after seeing a good deal of evidence, that OP1 was guilty – and without the father’s (victim’s) desire to see OP1 punished? I understand that the system gets it wrong – I’ve seen that happen – but I do think there’s some minimization on OP1’s part here.

          1. Anna*

            Yeah, this isn’t necessarily the case. Plenty of public defenders will suggest a plea or admission of guilt is better than going to trial because it’s “easier” on everyone. We don’t know what he was told by the people who were supposed to be advising him or the prosecuting attorney.

            1. Dan*

              Usually people get some sort of reduced sentence for taking a plea. (They call it a plea deal or a plea bargain.) The incentive for plea-ing out is that you’re risking more serious charges/jail time/fines if you go to trial and lose. If you’re going to do time, you may as well do less time.

              Now, I suppose one is not always offered a deal, and what he gets for avoiding trial is avoiding the legal bills associated with it. But this OP had access to a PD, so the OP had no financial motive to avoid trial.

              It’s really, really sh!tty advice to plead guilty to a felony, unless the plea agreement avoids jail time.

    3. Brett*

      Since the conviction was so recent, the OP might be on parole still or even a suspended sentence. That will restrict the OP’s ability to move to another state.

      1. doreen*

        Regarding parole, it’s possible for parole to be transferred from one state to another.

  19. old capitol*

    OP #1, please follow the advice to speak with a lawyer who will really take the time to look into the details of your situation! I hope you can get it sorted out. But I do want to mention that, if I were to hear the story the way you presented it, I would be skeptical. (I recognize that you probably don’t present it the same way in interviews that you do when you are asking for help.) I’m explaining my thought process here in the hope that it will give you some ideas about how to present your story to make corporate strangers more comfortable.

    Because your story focuses on the misdeeds of others and not on the fact that you were treated as responsible for something that you were involved with, I would be inclined to think you are not accepting responsibility for your actions. Also, you might have encountered a prosecutor whose skills at getting people to plead guilty relied on a “this isn’t important, so just do it” approach to make sure that you were in fact held responsible. So, as a stranger, I wouldn’t trust that the prosecutor actually thought the charges were bull.

    You can be proactive about these kinds of underlying concerns by thinking carefully about a narrative that would make sense even if people did believe what you did merited the charges. For example, you might think about whether you have completed any anger management training or developed more positive outlets for your frustrations (even if you didn’t really have those kinds of issues in the first place). Meanwhile, I hope that you have better success with smaller employers. Best of luck to you.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I’m not quite seeing a lack of responsibility, as the letter starts out with an admission of making a mistake and ends with saying he or she did something stupid.

      1. moe*

        I can certainly see how it could rub someone the wrong way, though (“mistake” and “stupid” perhaps not conveying a full understanding of the weight a felony conviction carries in an employer’s mind). When you are an unknown quantity with strikes against you, you need a more compelling narrative than that, IMO.

      2. OhNo*

        I can actually see old capitol’s point here. The story could be read as “It wasn’t even that bad, but excuse excuse excuse and now I have a felony conviction. It’s not my fault!” Reading through the letter, there definitely does seem to be something wonky about the way it was handled, but most employers won’t care enough to listen to the whole story and think critically about it (especially if they thing the legal system can Do No Wrong).

        OP, my only advice is based off of interactions I’ve had with ex-convicts and former addicts. What always impressed me in those conversations was when the person can say, straight up: this is what I did, and this is why it was wrong, and I know better now. In your case, you can also add a statement of this is why it shouldn’t have been a felony, but ended up as one. And then include information for anyone who can vouch for that. Alison mentioned getting a statement from the state attorney. I might also suggest a (good!) lawyer, your parole officer, any anger management or rehabilitation professional you might have worked with – basically anyone who can vouch for either the fact that the situation was messed up, or the fact that you have yourself together now and there will not be a repeat.

        1. Dan*

          I read the “it wasn’t even that bad, but excuse excuse excuse and now I have a felony conviction. It’s not my fault!” too.

          And the relevance for employment, and as is the OP’s reason for writing? Because if I’m your employer and you present this mindset to me, you’re going to get the boot. Because I don’t think you learned from your mistake, and I’m going to wonder if you are going to bring the same mindset to my job. Which I don’t want. ‘Cause dealing with someone who’s in denial about whatever job task or corrective action I want them to take, isn’t fun to deal with.

          As an employer, I’m going to want facts. You did something that was bad enough to get your dad to call the cops on you, get the charges to stick, and get them escalated into a felony in adult court. You don’t get to blow that off and expect me to hire you. Because while I believe something is likely wonky here, I also believe there’s substance. Are you going to be that hothead who brings a gun to the office? Convince me that you’re not.

  20. Quick advice*

    Removed by Alison

    Please don’t post off-topic questions in the comments section — it detracts from the discussion and makes the comment section more unwieldy. Once I spot it, I’ll remove it, as I’ve done here.

    Thanks to the other commenters who explained this!

    This is happening with increasing frequency, which is why I’m taking a hard line on it; it has the potential to really change the nature of the comment section otherwise.

  21. Purr purr purr*

    OP#3, I’m presuming they caught the person that was involved in the shooting and that you’re not at risk by working there? Have they also put extra security measures in place to try and prevent a similar incident?

  22. Karowen*

    OP1 – First and foremost, I am so sorry that this is happening to you. It’s a horrible situation to be put in. But, since all the sympathy in the world won’t help you, I have a few suggestions/comments:

    #1, Most companies do not access the NCIC when they’re doing background checks. Even if they’re doing a database search, it’s normally comprised of other sources, so don’t let that stop you from getting the pardon or getting the record sealed or whatever you can do.

    #2, and I’m not saying that you need this in any way, but have you thought about doing anger management classes? With the individualized assessment guidance issued by the EEOC, you may be able to use a passing or course completion certificate as evidence that you’re on the right track and the employer should take a chance on you. I know in an earlier comment I said something about looking for jobs in CA, but NY might also be an option – they have some of the most stringent laws about what a company must consider. (Everywhere else in the nation it’s just a “guidance,” but you’d have to be able to show that you’re a minority of some sort to get the EEOC involved). If you’re curious, google NY 23-A.

    Best of luck!

  23. Phone interview in 30 minutes!*

    Removed by Alison.



  24. soitgoes*

    #1 is rough because even if a company doesn’t run background checks, the application will usually ask if the applicant was ever convicted of a felony. That said, the OP’s manner of explaining the situation isn’t helping him. “Oh it’s no big deal, I just got in a violent fight with my dad that resulted in the police being called.” The police were called on him, not his dad. I wouldn’t hire that person, especially if he still lives with his dad, which would make me worry that incidents like that might happen again. I also would not hire anyone who admitted to having a violent past. Just my personal thoughts on the matter. I do agree with others that the OP should spend a few years in school or gaining other experience, since the expectation of being able to land a career-track job straight out of high school isn’t always realistic, even without a felony conviction.

    I’m a bit confused by other commenters calling this situation “heartbreaking.” Charges were filed against him, not his dad. Even if the situation escalated to a bizarre degree, the OP is the one who hit his dad. Just no. Not hiring that person when other candidates have degrees and clean records (and no history of violence). Just look at question #2.

    1. OhNo*

      I can’t speak for everyone, but I think people are calling it heartbreaking and sad because it seems, at least from the letter, that the justice system failed this person. It’s happened before, and it will happen again.

      There are legitimate reasons to escalate a situation to violence (at least I think so, but I know not everyone would agree), but obviously we don’t know the whole situation, so we don’t know if this was one of those times. Should the cops have been called? Seems likely. Should the OP have been charged? The state certainly seems to think so.

      Should this have been a felony that will bar the OP from most jobs forever (with the bonus of increasing his chance of recidivism)? That’s the part that a lot of us here seem to be iffy on.

      1. soitgoes*

        That’s fair. I’m just taking issue with the OP’s lack of…acountability, I suppose. As others have stated, hitting someone so hard the the state presses charges is not a “stupid mistake.” I’ve never made that mistake. I assume most of us here haven’t. It’s natural to want to downplay these things, especially just two years after the fact, but violence is never a silly quibble to be brushed aside. I wouldn’t hire someone who had the attitude that violence is normal or easily forgivable.

        As far as jobs go, it goes both ways. Everyone has the right to earn a living, but the existing employees have the right to feel safe at work. I would not want to work alongside a charged felon who believes that beating up his own dad is no big deal and just a misunderstanding perpetrated by the legal system.

        Sometimes we make choices that affect the rest of our lives. It’s not always fair or right in the long run, but this seems like one of those times. If you act violently, you need to accept that other people might not want to be around you, especially if you haven’t done the work of undergoing anger management therapy and extra-especially if your tactic is to blame the legal system for daring the notice the violence.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Yeah, I’m leaning more towards “unfortunate situation” rather than “heartbreaking.”

          1. soitgoes*

            And as I’ve already said, I’m surprised people aren’t drawing correlations between #1 and #2 here. Obviously there’s a reason to look at past violence when deciding whether to welcome someone new into the workplace. OP2 wouldn’t be in the situation she/he is in if the CEO/owner took violence seriously. That’s why OP1 needs to change his attitude and approach. Anti-violence and anti-felony policies are important. You can’t act like it’s discriminatory. You have to respect why these policies exist.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              You’re making a far far leap to assume that the boss in OP2 has a criminal conviction background, and it you aren’t assuming that, there’s no correlation between OP1 and OP2.

              The lack of oversight in OP2 is nobody superior taking action on bad behavior directly on the job. The two posts have not a thing to do with each other.

              As presented (which, is just as presented and not necessarily as is), as presented, the most major of all failings of OP1 was not coming from money. A 17 year old with financial privilege would never be where the OP is right now. Money buys lawyers who make something like this go away.

              A system that locks somebody out of any opportunities at that young an age is not that many steps away from a system like in the movie “Escape from New York”. Rich people didn’t end up on Manhattan Island.

              1. fposte*

                I agree with you on the broader notions of privilege and consequences, but there are also cases where I think it’s appropriate that somebody’s committing assault at 17 limits their opportunities at 19.

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                  And I agree with you that there are many jobs where a criminal background check is necessary. If you are choosing police academy recruits, the actions at 17 do limit the opportunities available at 19 (as one of many examples). There’s no federal job clearance on this one.

                  My objection, as you understand, is the notion that the actions at 17 would effectively shut a 19 year old out of any job opportunities. This doesn’t make any of us safer, imho.

              2. soitgoes*

                I never assumed that the manager in #2 has a conviction. I cited #2 as an example of why a business would be careful to avoid hiring a person whose violence has been documented.

                It’s sweeping a lot of issues under the rug to claim that it’s just about lack of money or privilege. The OP beat up his dad. I don’t necessarily believe in holding people accountable for one bad teenage act, but let’s not undersell the crime in question. Presumably the dad was pretty beat up and the OP wasn’t. People who do not come from money can easily avoid situations like this by not being violent in the first place. The system isn’t keeping him down. He did something horrible (sorry, I don’t mince words when it comes to violence) and now he’s paying for it.

                1. fposte*

                  We don’t even have enough information to say “pretty beat up.” In a lot of places, once the cops get called (say, by a neighbor who saw a punch get thrown or a scuffle happen), the wheels are set in motion, and because it’s domestic violence it can be very hard to stop them.

                2. soitgoes*

                  To fposte:

                  From what I know, it’s somewhat rare for there to be a domestic dispute and for the visibly weaker/younger/smaller one to be the one charged, unless the other person showed signs of being hurt. On one hand, when the neighbors call the cops, yeah sometimes the wheels are automatically set in motion. On the other, a lot of times they let it go the first few times too. It’s not up to the OP to explain the legal stuff, but I don’t think the cops would arrest the younger person after the first call.

                  Lots of people hit other people and have the cops called. Very few end up with felony charges. The physically stronger person was not the one who was charged. There’s a reason things went that route.

                3. fposte*

                  @soitgoes–we have no idea who’s the physically stronger person here. We have no idea that the OP “beat up” his dad. We don’t know what happened and can’t really assume anything beyond what’s given, because then we end up assuming things in the mold of a particular experience that may not map onto this one.

                4. Anonymous for this one*


                  All true about assumptions, but these are things the OP will have to deal with to successfully making in the labor market. He’s dealing with these biases, and needs to know how to get in front of them.

                  And speaking as someone who has been in the OP’s shoes on the DV front, I got a misdemeanor charge that was dropped on the first offense. So yeah, with my experience, I’m really, really curious how juvenile case jumps to adult court and gets prosecuted as a felony. When we read about this stuff in the papers, it’s usually something serious, iek murder.

                5. fposte*

                  @Anonymous–I totally agree that the OP needs to be aware of perceptions (as I mentioned in discussing anger management). But the justice system is an inconsistent and unpredictable creature, and we really can’t assume based on our own experience that we know just what happened and can categorize based the OP based on those assumptions rather than facts.

                6. Simonthegrey*


                  In Iowa, when there is a domestic disturbance, both parties are arrested for the disturbance. It doesn’t matter if you threw the first punch or not.

              3. neverjaunty*

                I don’t understand this argument. soitgoes is talking about the fact that a great predictor of violent behavior is whether somebody has been violent in the past. A workplace that wants to avoid having employees like OP #2’s supervisor is unlikely to want to hire somebody whose immediate history is “conviction for a violent felony.” Sure, we know OP gets it and has resolved to do better, but how is HR supposed to know that? Not too many problem employees say “Oh yeah, that crime I committed? I’d totally do the same thing again.”

        2. Anonymous*

          OP here,

          It looks like you’re assuming that a one time mistake guarantees that I’ll do it again and and again and again. Don’t hire him, he’ll bite the client, too!

          I don’t find violence acceptable. I’ve never gotten into a fight before that day, and I haven’t since.

          1. fposte*

            The problem you’re facing is that a lot of people who say the same thing do get into a fight again; a two-year gap isn’t a big deal, historically speaking, to prove that you won’t. You may know internally why you did it and why it could never happen again, but that knowledge doesn’t translate to other people. That’s why some folks have suggested an anger management course–it’s a way of indicating your commitment to its never happening again.

            1. Elsajeni*

              Yes, this. Alison used the OP’s own description of the situation as “a mistake I made at 17”; that’s one way of interpreting the story, one that gives the OP the benefit of the doubt, and of course it makes sense, OP, that that’s how you’d think of the situation — you know your own thought processes, so you know, as fposte said, why you did it and why it won’t happen again. But it would be equally accurate to describe it as “a crime I committed two years ago,” and someone who thinks of it that way isn’t being unfair or mean — they’re just looking at the facts, without the benefit of knowing all of your thoughts and feelings about the situation. I think it’s worth remembering that a potential employer who doesn’t know you doesn’t necessarily have any reason to give you the benefit of the doubt — they’re more likely to take the second interpretation than the first, and to someone who’s thinking of the situation as “a crime you committed two years ago,” you’re probably better off accepting that it seems like a big deal to them and framing your descriptions of it as “It was a big, terrible mistake, and I will never let it happen again,” versus what you’re doing now, which is downplaying it in a way that risks coming across as “I don’t see what the big deal was and I’m not that concerned about whether it happens again.”

          2. Loose Seal*

            Oh, OP, I’m so sorry for the the position you’ve found yourself in. I, for one, can say that I got into a few hot-headed, teenaged-anger driven fights when I was an older teen. Most of the time I was content with shouting but there were a few times that I hit a family member in anger. Of course, I deeply regretted it once I calmed down. There was never any police involvement for me but it’s only luck that it didn’t happen.

            I don’t believe that one’s hair-trigger emotions that exist for us all as teens are good predictors of how we will behave in the future and I’m not reading soitgoes as saying that they believe that about you. What I am reading is that, regardless of how the event went down, and how it now appears on the record, you have to realize that prospective employers may not want to take a chance on you. Some won’t even hear you out, which I’m sure you’ve realized, but those people that do are going to want to be persuaded that you took responsibility for your actions, are contrite, and learned something from it. It may be difficult for you to find a way to talk about those things without sounding confrontational. If you can afford to see a therapist for a few sessions to specifically talk about this issue (how to present yourself to prospective employers in a way that they feel you’ve grown since this incident), it might help.

          3. soitgoes*

            I understand that you’re frustrated, but you did something bad that most people will never, ever do. You also do not have any sort of advanced degree. I’m not going to pat you on the head and tell you to ignore all of the meanie hiring managers who dismissed you. Not to be mean, but your response is telling me that you don’t understand how seriously people take violence. You have to take the adult approach and stop blaming it on the district attorney and your lack of funds. Own it and work with it. Don’t ask others to ignore it.

          4. Anonsie*

            I get why you’re frustrated. The thing is that people just don’t know and, like fposte said, it hasn’t been long enough for it to be clearly obvious to an observer that this was a once in a lifetime event. For people who can’t even imagine ever being in a fight, this is going to see particularly heinous as they wonder what kind of person could ever do that.

            You’re not going to change their minds now. Don’t just rail up against that and how unfair it feels– focus on how to keep moving forward. When you tell people about it, focus on that as well. Don’t talk down about it minimize it because people, rightly or wrongly, are going to interpret this as a sign that you haven’t actually learned anything. I really wish I had more practical advice for how to find a job in this situation, but it’s rough.

          5. Observer*

            No one is assuming that you WILL do this again. But, generally speaking, someone who HAS done something like this is more likely to do it again. And, when you present it as “just something stupid I did” rather than something bad you did, that you have taken steps to avoid in the future, it’s hard to blame an employer for having an issue with it. Especially since your track record is not exactly long. If this had happened when you were 17 and you were 27 now, I would say that it’s time let it drop. But the combination of your presentation and the proximity in time creates a legitimate concern for an employer.

            A couple of years of “burger flipping”, especially as the guy everyone wants on their shift could do you a lot of good in that respect.

          6. neverjaunty*

            But how do your future employers know that you will never get into a fight ever again?

            Other people are not you and are not in your head, looking out. Strangers – including those who might be hiring for jobs you want – do not have crystal balls or mind-reading devices. All they have to go on as a predictor of your future behavior is your past behavior. And right now, you are not very distant in time from very serious past behavior that, in most people, is a predictor of not-good things in the future.

            I get that it feels like people are being unfair because they won’t give you a second chance and just trust you. They’re not. They’re trying to make a sensible prediction about what kind of employee you will be.
            The good news is, you can get that second chance the same way you lost it: by showing, through your behavior, what kind of person you are. This is going to take time. But if you work hard at it (relying on the many good resources suggested here), over time, you will move away from your bad decision, and you will accumulate a history and support network that will stick up for you and help you get your foot in the door.

            It’s not going to be easy, as I’m sure you know. But resenting people for not forgiving you as quickly as your forgive yourself will get you nowhere.

        3. Anonymous for this one*

          But we actually don’t know what the substance of the charges are, you’re assuming he just hit dad.

          I hit someone once, and got arrested with a misdemeanor charge. The victim declined to press charges, the case was dropped. I’m an adult who should know better. So I gotta figure for a minor to have this escalated into adult court, something happened that the OP is downplaying. I don’t think he “just” hit dad.

        4. Anonsie*

          I don’t know why so many people are acting like the OP is playing this off as a “whoopsie!” All I’ve seen is a presentation of the problem and asking how they can try to find and get work despite it. There is nothing crazy about wanting to be a productive member of society who works for your own paycheck and covers your own bills! What is the alternative here?

          To everyone who thinks this letter writer is being unreasonable in focusing on how to move on rather than repeatedly lamenting how terrible they are, what is the ding-dang alternative? Go ahead and be offended by their attitude if you want, but fact is they have to keep going in life here. They came to a job advice blog asking for job advice because they want to be a productive adult, and we are getting extremely sidetracked from the point here.

          1. soitgoes*

            He’s only applying for jobs in his absolute favorite field, which is an option that goes away when you have a criminal record. He also doesn’t have a college education.

            He has options that have already been mentioned multiple times:
            1) Apply for non-IT jobs.
            2) Go to college and network via internships and work study programs.

            It’s not getting sidetracked to explain to the OP that the way he’s presenting his narrative to an employer isn’t going to help him.

            1. Anonsie*

              It’s not getting sidetracked to explain to the OP that the way he’s presenting his narrative to an employer isn’t going to help him.

              You’re definitely right about that, don’t get me wrong. But there is a difference between explaining what it is that’s going to turn people off and just asserting that the letter writer is a big jerk, which I’m seeing a decent amount of around the comments here.

              More education can sometimes be a good option, but there’s a lot of pros and cons here. I wish we were discussing this more, since there’s a lot to be weighed and I’m sure the collective expertise of the regular comment crowd here would be useful and interesting. There’s the looming question of whether or not it will turn into a job if the thing that’s bouncing the LW right now is the background checks and felony disclosures, which could give little progress with additional debt. You (and others) are right that with a network of people who know you, it can be easier for people to be reassured about you, but that’s also not a guarantee. There’s the benefit of added time, though, since right now the conviction is fairly recent.

              1. soitgoes*

                When I and others question the OP’s version of how the conviction came down, we’re not calling him an outright bad person or trying to dig up dirt. We’re saying, “Something doesn’t seem right about this version of events, and it’s not wise to try to slip this past an employer who knows how background checks work and probably also knows a bit about what kinds of incidents are charged as felonies in that county/state.”

                The fact is that a lot of people who don’t have felony convictions eventually have to give up their dream of working in their top-pick field. The OP has to do this too, and it shouldn’t be perceived as only being a result of an unfair domino effect of uncontrollable events. I’m not seeing from the email that the OP is particularly underprivileged, just that his dad couldn’t afford a pricey lawyer. I wouldn’t assume that there’s absolutely no money to spend on community college tuition or an online certification.

  25. Frances*

    #4 — I used to advance book hotel rooms for business guest on my employer’s credit card and things would get confused at check out time quite a bit. The problem is most hotels (even in the major city in which I work) still require third-party credit card requests to be submitted on a paper form via fax. This creates a lot of places where things can go wrong, from the form never getting attached to the file, to a number getting smudged and interpreted incorrectly by the hotel employee, to the reservation being made right before a card reaches its expiration date and the new date not getting into the file.

    Follow Alison’s advice and let the business know as quickly as possible. Sometimes when we were alerted quickly enough we were able to get the charge reversed on the guest’s card and charged to our card, so the guest didn’t even have to wait for reimbursement.

    1. AVP*

      I think we’ve discussed this on here before – chain hotels are notoriously bad at taking payment in this way! It’s probably just a common error.

      1. AVP*

        Also, if you’re using your card for a lot of travel, sometimes it will be declined because the issuing company suspects a fraudulent charge. If you’re using it personally, you can just call and approve it right then and there, but if you’ve issued it to someone else it becomes a whole problem.

  26. anon-2*

    #1 – What was always stressed upon me – by my parents – is that you should always keep your nose clean — because a criminal record will put you behind EVERYONE who does not have a record. Often stated = “his life is ruined with a record”….

    “Policy” is generally a euphenism for “we are hiding behind some rule that someone wrote down somewhere” but this isn’t so when dealing with convicted felons.

    That being said, old anon-2 will tell you a couple reasons why they usually won’t let anyone in the door in IS/IT who has a criminal record — often, bonding issues. If you’re handling other peoples’ information, including their financial info , you will likely NOT be able to obtain that.

    “But I’m not handling money! I’m just fixing problems with Windows or UNIX!” Maybe so, but you’re going to be allowed to be close to sensitive situations if you’re let in the door.

    If I were asked “do you know John Doe? We’re about to hire him…” and I knew John had a record, I’m somewhat morally and professionally bound to reveal that to my management. What if it turned out I knew that but didn’t say anything?

    Another thing – your felony conviction is, from this listing, a violent one. He never pressed charges? Then why wouldn’t you all go to family / juvenile court and work this out? Not meaning to pry, or ruffle feathers (I do that here, don’t I, AAM?) but if I’m sitting on the other side of the desk and see a felony – violent act – with a family member, and said family member did nothing to stop the prosecution — (correct me if I’m wrong here) — well, it puts a suspicion in anyone’s mind. Allowing someone with a record of violence into a workplace …. they fear if something happened, what would it look like for the hiring manager?

    I once worked in a place where we had an employee – very capable – very sharp – and 98 percent of the time he was a great guy to be around. The other two percent – you didn’t want to be within 50 feet of him. Turned out he had the equivalent of a felony conviction (dishonorable discharge, I was told he had assaulted an officer in the military)…we wondered how he got in the door in the first place. And this represented a risk to the rest of us that our management should not have put us in.

    I wish you luck – as I said, a record puts you in the back of the line behind all those that do not have one. IS/IT being a very sensitive area in terms of security — yes, you may not have a shot at the profession, and I feel for you, but like many other professions — teaching, law enforcement, law, medicine , health care, engineering, the military** , or anything involving a security clearance — this should have been thoroughly explained to you by your public defender AND the prosecutor.

    I may sound harsh – but your best choice – RIGHT NOW – is to

    a) find another job in another field – it doesn’t have to be burger flipping
    c) if you have reconciled with your family, try to get an expungement or see if there is a pardon process in your state. Get an attorney to work with you on this.
    d) keep studying IS/IT – it may open up for you someday – but not fresh off a conviction.
    e) you may want to start a business someday — but learn the ropes of the working world and life in general before you attempt this.

    ** The “go in the service or go to jail” days are long passed – Uncle Sam is no longer willing to serve as a reform school or second chance.

    1. Heather*

      I don’t know the details of the law, but from the OP’s description it sounds like his state gives judges no discretion in sentencing for domestic violence cases, so it wouldn’t matter how much his father begged for dismissal. That’s the problem with mandatory sentencing laws – they don’t allow for shades of gray. You can’t just “go to family court and work it out.”

      1. anon-2*

        A judge can always do what is known as “continued without a finding”.

        A continuance — especially if the “victim” is a father (not a wife, or girlfriend, but a man) – if all are happy – is a form of probation.

        Kojak often said “if he picks his nose in the street he goes back up the river”.. well, that’s what a continuance does. If it’s a first offense. We do not know if there is a history behind OP’s situation or what. If OP has never been in trouble before – then, I cannot see a judge – in New Hampshire or Massachusetts or New York — advising or even PERMITTING a guilty plea. And if it is a first offense, and OP is under 18 – it CAN be sent back to juvenile, at the judge’s and prosecutor’s discretion.

        1. neverjaunty*

          We also don’t know what state OP is in, or whether the particular crime he committed is eligible for being “continued without a finding”. Rules about DV charges are often very strict precisely to prevent judges from soft-pedaling domestic violence cases by putting them over or letting an abuser off the hook.

    2. Elsajeni*

      In some cases, the victim can’t do anything to stop the prosecution — the state itself presses charges, regardless of whether the victim wants to. I think this is actually pretty common for domestic violence charges, to avoid situations where an abuser can go free because they intimidated their victim out of pressing charges, so it’s not surprising that it became an issue for OP#1.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I think that’s the commonest arrangement now. It also means that if a victim who was originally on board with prosecution chooses to recant it doesn’t stop the case.

      2. Anony for this*

        Yep, this happen to me. I was in argument with my ex, he hit me, I call the police and the police arrest both of us and call CPS (even though the children were not around). I remember the officer saying he didn’t have to get CPS involved because they weren’t there. He sought of thought about it for a moment then he just did it anyway. <—this piece of info is important later in my story. I can't fault him for calling CPS because in the role I would have done the same thing. What I didn't understand is-why I was arrested when I was the one assaulted. Anyway I was told once I completed the classes my case would be nolle. I guess it was some type of deal that the state will not pursue charges, if I completed x,y and z and kept my nose clean. From that day forward, I worked my butt off to get out that marriage and maintain my sanity. Two years later, I got my final divorce decree. That was 6 year ago. The arrest was 7 years ago.
        Anyway I'm undergoing a background check for a job (state job) and low and behold that record is there haunting me. I was told they have different ways of accessing records. And the worst part that's lingering now is the cps call because I didn't disclose it on the application. These were 2 separate questions and I thought since I could say I wasn't arrested, I could also say no there wasn't any cps involvement. A little naive. There were no findings in the cps investigation. I feel like even if I had put more thought into answering the cps question it would have opened up the fact I was arrested, which I didn't have to admit. I don't know. Honestly I had no real understanding, of course until now, what exactly was on my record. I thought it had been removed and all traces even the cps call was gone too…

        But what drives me more insane is the fact my ex has held numerous management level jobs (within the same company) with dui convictions, worthless check and a separate domestic violence incident (this one happened early on in before the one where I was arrested, it also happened in a different state –he pushed me and hit me just punch through a window and scared the shit of me) Anyway that state got it right he was charged and I wasn't. Anyone he's out of my life, but I just can't understand how he keeps finding really good work and I'm stuck at low level paying jobs. Now I feel like I may have screwed this whole job process…

        My advice to OP1 is know exactly what's on your record and what you legally can and can't say about the charges, arrests and convictions. And try to put as much distance and time between the incident. Hopefully someone out there will be willing to give you a chance.

    3. Anonsie*

      If I were asked “do you know John Doe? We’re about to hire him…” and I knew John had a record, I’m somewhat morally and professionally bound to reveal that to my management. What if it turned out I knew that but didn’t say anything?

      That’s interesting, because it would never occur to me to bring that up. I would assume that, if it were an issue to my employer, they would be checking on it themselves.

  27. HM in Atlanta*

    Re #1 – The situation is too recent for a lot of employers to give you the benefit of the doubt. While you work on the legal side of things, you still need to work. My suggestions are meant to buy you some time – building a work history and a squeaky clean record. (1) Community organizations that help felons find jobs. For these organizations, they’ve identified and partnered with employers that already know they are trying to place people with convictions. You would be a dream placement – one blip on your history when you were 17, that’s easily explained away? (2) If you are going to a college or training school, ask for work study placement. Since you’re a student, there’s less chance of them turning you down. (3) Smaller employers (like Alison said) and specifically employers with a focus on customers locally [they like to hire people from their customer pool]. (4) Use your high school teachers. They’ve taught a lot of people, and many of those people own business and are hiring managers.

  28. Ally*

    #1. I had a very similar situation, exact same charges. Except my parents got a really good lawyer and after two years of hell, the district attorney finally dropped the charges. (I had a strong self defense case) But I still have the FBI record number that will always remain and some job applications ask “have you ever been charged with a felony” and then you have to explain…
    Expungement is not the answer to everything as some people think. In many states you cannot expunge guilty felony charges, plain and simple – that’s the law. And I believe the OP has already looked into that as mentioned in the post.
    What little advice I have to the OP is to become comfortable explaining to an employer, in case they ask, your situation. Keep your explanation simple, no additional dramatic details. Example- you were young and it was a difficult time in your life, you had no violent behaviors before or after this incident, and have learned a great deal from the experience. Since then you have had NO violations of the law – this is VERY important, because 10 years from now it will really mean something.
    I’m sorry you’re going through this. It was an absolute nightmare for me and really ruined my confidence and self worth. I volunteer with foster children who have similar issues, aged out, and can’t find jobs and for most expungement is not an option.

    (I didn’t have time to read other comments before posting, in case this was already mentioned or I missed some other important details)

    1. Ally*

      AND, at least in my situation, it didn’t matter one bit if the other person pressed charges or not. It was the decision of the district attorney and out of the control of everyone involved.

      1. Heather*

        I’m so sorry this happened to you. Good for you for trying to make some good come of it for other kids.

      2. Celeste*

        Wow, that’s horrible. I’m surprised more people don’t just give up and commit suicide when a somebody can make it so hard for a juvenile to go forward in life.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          People do. Recently I read a story about 15 (?) y/o. He streaked across a football field or something. He got charged, he was headed for the sex offender registry and he committed suicide. He could not go forward knowing he would be a registered offender for the rest of his life.

          We so failed, here.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I came here to post similar information. I can totally see the LW’s story happening in my state. When police are notified about a domestic disturbance, they can bring charges even when the victim doesn’t want them to do so. Seventeen-year-olds can be charged as adults in felonies, and it’s not unbelievable that the thought process would be something like, “charging this kid as a minor hurts his father (the victim) even more because now he’s going to have to pay for a lawyer…. We’re going to charge this kid as an adult and he can just get himself a public defender.” At that point, a good lawyer would have fought to get the charges reduced and the case kicked to juvenile court. But that didn’t happen, and that can’t be changed now. Once convicted, there is no way to seal or expunge felonies without overturning the conviction. I’m not kidding. The state law is that convicted felonies cannot be sealed or expunged. That’s it, the end. Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and do not expect to good career opportunities for years, maybe forever.

  29. anon-2*

    #2 – I have seen circumstances like that. If there is an HR department — you CAN give an “immediate notice”.

    “I appreciate that it is customary to afford an employer a two week notice period. However, unfortunate circumstances created by your management, and they are beyond my control, and which you are aware of, mandate that I depart immediately. It is with great regret that I have to do so.”

    Translation = boss goes berserk. I almost had to do that at one place following my resignation. HR intervened. It wasn’t physical confrontation – it was an unprofessional action following the resignation.

  30. Susan*

    #2: I once was in this situation as well. When it came time to resign I left my office door open and as the boss was walking by asked him to come in for a minute in a very casual tone –no need to close the door. I was very afraid that he would blow up on me the way he had others, that’s why I chose my office rather than his. With the door open, he was much more civil. Then, I phrased my wording in a way that placed no blame on him for my resignation, even though he was the main reason. I said, “I love this job, but unfortunately it’s affecting my health and I need to resign immediately.” It was the truth. The job gave me a lot of anxiety and I didn’t like it. The boss couldn’t go all bat shit crazy over something like that, and he didn’t. He asked if I could stay on until they found a replacement and I told him it would not be possible. Thanks to HIPAA privacy laws, I knew I did not have to state what the health issue was, and I didn’t. And I was ready to address it if he asked. “It’s a private matter.”

    1. fposte*

      HIPAA doesn’t affect what you tell your boss, though; you didn’t have to tell him because there’s no law in the country that says he’s entitled to know.

  31. Luvs_A-Laugh*

    # 3 At one time I got a job as the replacement for someone who left the job with terminal cancer. The job was driving a school bus and it took about a year for people to stop resenting that I was “driving Karen’s bus”. Don’t take any “that’s so and so’s office. or that was soo and so ‘s project and you will never do it as good as them” personally. Also don’t try to prove you can do it as good as or better. Just do it the best way you can. Eventually people se you as a coworker and come to terms with their grief and see that you are not trying to replace the person you are simply filling the job.

  32. cuppa*

    #2 – Yikes. I agree with Alison’s advice. I think you do really want to give the professional norm and submit your two weeks. However, be prepared to enforce your boundaries and leave early if necessary. Her wording for this situation is spot-on.
    Is there any sort of co-worker that you can have nearby for support/assistance? I’m not saying they have to go in with you, but perhaps they could be around the corner or down the hall? Also, I would not sit down in her office and don’t turn your back on her. If she has a history of physical abuse, better to be safe that sorry, and ready to get out of there asap.

  33. Luvs_A-Laugh*

    # 3 At one time I got a job as the replacement for someone who left the job with terminal cancer. The job was driving a school bus and it took about a year for people to stop resenting that I was “driving Karen’s bus”. Don’t take any “that’s so and so’s office. Or that was so and so ‘s project and you will never do it as good as them” personally. Also don’t try to prove you can do it as good as or better. Just do it the best way you can. Eventually people see you as a coworker and come to terms with their grief and see that you are not trying to replace the person you are simply filling the job.

  34. m*

    To #3: There was recently a similar incident where I work, and honestly the empty office was so much more upsetting than having someone else fill it. Although things will never be the same, having someone in that role has actually helped us get back to a new sense of normal. I think the fact that you’re thinking about this shows that you’ll handle things sensitively and considerately. Best of luck.

  35. Anonymous this time*

    My husband committed a felony as a youth in California – young, stupid and remorseful. In CA, youth felonies are adjudications, not convictions, which is a very important distinction. When he was released he had gained some culinary skills in the work program and went looking for jobs at restaurants. He walked into the place that ended up hiring him, was honest about his past and volunteered to work for free for a day to prove himself. They liked what they saw and hired him. He worked there until the restaurant was sold to new management. He later got experience in construction and began to study for his contractor’s license. In CA, they do a live scan fingerprint check of all license applicants. At first they wanted to reject his application because he had said no to being convicted of a felony, but my father, who is a lawyer, wrote a letter on his behalf explaining that a youth adjudication is not considered technically to be a conviction. The spirit of the definition is to prevent the very thing that is happening in this case to OP#1. My husband ended up receiving his contractor’s license and has created a very successful business for himself.

    My point is that there are legal differences that you should look into to see if you can improve your situation. And don’t give up – be creative and tenacious and you will find someone willing to give you a chance.

      1. queensparkswizzle*

        Except that it’s already very, very common in the restaurant industry. You do a “stage” to see if the you and the kitchen are a good fit.

        1. Elysian*

          I don’t know how that works. If you’re in the United States, you’re entitled to payment unless you’re being explicitly taught (as one would be in a school). If they don’t pay, they are violating the law.

  36. Mena*

    #3: what happened to your predeceasor wasn’t about you and your new colleagues will certainly recognize this. Initially (until folks get to know you a bit), I would focus questions about where/and how things were done previously on your direct supervisor.

  37. JMegan*

    #3 – when I started a previous job, one of my colleagues was on leave for an indefinite period due to “stress.” It was obvious that something was up, and that whatever it was had happened fairly recently, as people in the office were still trying to talk about it and process it for themselves. However, they were also twisting themselves into knots to *not* say anything in front of me, since I was new and didn’t know the whole story.

    Which sounds like a kindness to both me and the person on leave, but it really made it difficult for everyone else. So I finally asked if they would mind telling me what had happened – and made it clear that it was not for my own sake, but so that they could feel safer talking about it around me. Somebody then gave me the abbreviated version of the story, and it immediately made things easier. They could then have their conversations without worrying about inadvertently telling me something I didn’t know, they could process the stressful event that had happened to their colleague, and they could see by my actions that I wasn’t digging for gossip or asking inappropriate questions.

    Most people need to talk about things like this, especially something so traumatizing and so recent. The best thing that you can do is show them that it’s safe to talk about it when you’re around. So tell them upfront that you know what happened, and how sorry you are to hear it. Be sympathetic, but not intrusive. Work-related questions will probably be fine – and if they’re not fine, if someone ends up being triggered by something you say, then at least you’ll understand why, and be able to respond appropriately.

    It sounds like you’re a pretty sensitive and empathetic person anyway, just from the fact that you’re worried about this. So I think you’ll be fine just following your intuition on how to handle it all.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is really great advice, for the OP. JMegan, you handled that very well. You were caring without being demanding. You explained why you were asking without being long-winded or self-focused. No doubt in my mind that they really appreciated your thoughtfulness and they think you were/still are very supportive to them.

      1. Anonymous*

        OP 1 here,

        I got an update for ya: I start Monday at a place who already knows about my uh… problem… and understands the circumstances behind it. It’s exactly the kind of position I’ve been looking for, and it looks like there’s room to move up.

        1. the celt*

          Congratulations, OP #1! :)

          This is the kind of update I love to hear, but I’d still contact a lawyer to see if you can do anything about the conviction.

  38. Kay*

    For #1.

    I wasn’t sure if this had been addressed but I thought it was worth mentioning. It’s worth disclosing on the application because often its not necessarily the felony that disqualifies you as much as falsifying an application. If the first they hear of the felony is on the background check that might be qhat is disqualifying you.

  39. Student*

    #1 OP, it’s time to change job fields.

    No sane corp is going to hire a convicted felon to do IT work. The IT department is in a unique position of trust. Like a banker or a lawyer. Even in low level IT support roles, like help-desk work, you often have access to a lot of privileged information. No one wants a felon around SSNs, financial records, or email communications – regardless of what type of felony you committed or why. In some situations, hiring managers would get hoisted by the shareholders for hiring you.

    You might be eligible for computer-related jobs, such as programming or web design. Depending on the specific business, you could probably program lots of things without coming anywhere near trusted information. However, places that program business applications or financial software will, again, regard you as an unacceptable risk.

    Really, look for a career where you won’t have routine access to sensitive information. You’ll run into less background checks.

    1. CoffeeLover*


      Very good points about working in IT! It makes a lot of sense now. I was wondering why OP was running into so many background checks. I’ve never had a background check for work (although I’m in Canada and I’m fairly certain they’re pretty rare here in general). It can be hard to change career trajectories, but OP is pretty young so it’s better to change now than to have this felony haunt him for the rest of his career. Unless of course he can get it expunged.

  40. Malissa*

    1.–Have you tried appealing the felony? That might be the quicker route.

    Otherwise my advice to you is to find any job. There are places that help felons get hired. Try those. Don’t worry too much about what the work is. It’s something to pay the bills. Start working for yourself on the side. Fix friends computers. Look for contract work. Put an ad on Craigslist. Start building a reputation for good work.
    You’ll need a business license and I would recommend a FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number). When you get to over $400 in receipts you’ll want to talk to an accountant or google to learn about the tax implications.

    2. Make sure you have all of your personal stuff out of the office before you give notice. If you get fired on the spot, it makes it easier. Last time I started taking home just one thing a day so it wasn’t obvious.

  41. Jen S. 2.0*

    #5 —

    Best of luck to you! Be aware that, depending on the organization, job booths and fairs and such very often are places to learn more about a company, not to get hired. Obviously this will vary by agency, but I’ve personally represented my government agency at job fairs as a recruiter, and I haven’t had information about specific openings or anyone who’s applied. I’ve given out general information about the structure of the agency, the types of jobs we have, and how to apply, but that’s about it. Not only that, but it can be very difficult to get into the government for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the fact that dozens upon dozens of people apply to each announcement. I really, really recommend not getting emotionally attached to any one announcement. Apply and keep moving.

  42. OP #3*

    Thank you for all of the kind and useful comments. I’ll keep them in mind as I navigate this new position. It was definitely one of those things where I wasn’t looking but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, and I’m very excited to be working there, even if the circumstances are unfortunate. For Purr purr purr, thanks for the concern about security. While I can’t go into too much detail, they did catch the person(s) responsible, and I have personally seen that the incident and the circumstances surrounding it are being thoroughly investigated.

    I will definitely update in a couple weeks/month. (Those are one of my favorite posts as well.)

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