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“Innocent until proven guilty” is one of the most commonly misunderstood phrases in the law. What it means is that the government must prove to a judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a crime (or you must plead guilty to the crime) before you can be found guilty and sentenced for the crime, and there will be a presumption of innocence up to and until that occurs. What it does not mean is that the rest of society – your friends, your family, the media, and your employer for starters – is required to provide you with that same presumption of innocence. Those parties of course do not have the power to declare you guilty or sentence you to prison, but they do have the power to hurt your reputation, cut off relations, and even end your employment. Below we discuss specifically how a pending felony charge can affect your employment.
California state employment law offers many employee-friendly protections with some of the most progressive laws in the country regarding past brushes with the criminal law. If you have been arrested and/or charged with a crime in the past, but you were found to be innocent or the charges were dropped, then your current employer and any employer you are interviewing with may not ask you about that event, and they cannot seek out that information from other sources. They also may not use that information against you in deciding not to hire you or, in the case of a current employer, taking an adverse action such as firing you.
This is not the case with pending criminal charges, whether they be felony or misdemeanor charges. If you are facing criminal charges, a current employer or employer you are applying to work with can ask you to disclose the charges and can make your honest answer a condition of your current or potential employment.
Taking things one step further, if you tell your current or potential employer that you are facing criminal charges, they may legally decide not to hire you or to terminate your employment based on that fact. That is the case even if you believe you are innocent and even if you are eventually cleared of all criminal charges.
Because your employment and your career can hang in the balance after a charge for DUI, assault, theft, drug violation, or any other type of criminal violation, it is important for you to take decisive action to fight your charges and get the matter behind you as quickly as possible with the minimal amount of consequences to your freedom and finances. The sooner you can secure a not guilty verdict or disimissal of charges, the sooner you will be able to avoid having to talk to a current or future employer about your run-in with the law.
The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth vigorously defend the rights of men and women across Southern California who have been arrested and/or charged with criminal violations. Our multilingual staff and legal team will do everything we can to defend your freedom and get your life back to normal as quickly as possible. To get more information on how we can assist in your criminal defense, speak to an attorney at the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth today by calling 888-517-9888.