Can I Become A Police Officer With a Criminal Record

Table of Contents

Top 3 Best Ways To Explain An Arrest History
to Law Enforcement Agencies

Be Honest

Background checks for police applicants will unearth everything about your criminal history so it is very important that you are 100% honest on your pre-employment job application, as well as your background questionnaire.

Come Clean

Always answer questions about your criminal history truthfully, and go into great detail about the arrest. There are blogs out there that suggest not to provide information about simple misdemeanor offenses, don't do that.

Take Responsibility

When explaining to the recruiter about your arrest history, take responsibility for your actions and not play the blame game. Emphasize how you've changed in a positive way & Share positive experiences with your recruiter.

WATCH Can You Become a Cop With a Felony

Can I Be a Cop With a Felony Arrest?

The requirements to become a police officer is pretty strict forward nationwide. You cannot have been convicted of a felony, you cannot have been dishonorable discharged from the military, and you cannot have been convicted of domestic battery.

If you have any of the three that I’ve just mentioned, you will be disqualified from the selection process… PERIOD.

I get all of sorts of emails regarding past indiscretion of people who want to go into law enforcement. One of the more popular questions are about past drug use. Many local police agencies are pretty lax when it comes to past drug use.

Unless you are a serial drug user, or you’ve used two months before you submitted your application you won’t get canned. However there are some agencies that won’t let you continue if you’ve used narcotics within the past 2 years so it really depends on the agency.

Can I Become a Police officer With a Misdemeanor Conviction?

Minor convictions like jaywalking, public intoxication, driving offenses, and other misdemeanor convictions may or may not be  a problem depending on the agency. I’ve known of people who were hired even though they were arrested for minor offenses involving alcohol while they were in college or the military. So don’t think getting arrested is an automatic disqualification because it’s not. I know Austin PD have a laundry list of things that can can disqualified you, but typically that’s not adopted by every agency. 

Having a misdemeanor conviction on your criminal background won’t necessarily disqualify you from the hiring process, but it will put you at a disadvantage with other applicants who have squeaky clean records. I’d recommend that you disclose the conviction on your initial job application even if you’ve gotten it expunged from your record.

Can I become a police officer if I’ve been arrested?

Other common questions that I get all by time via email is “can I become a cop if I was arrested?” The answer is it all depends on what you were arrested for, and if you were convicted for it. Being arrested and being convicted is two different things. However you must know that you will be disqualified if you have a pending case. Meaning if the case is on-going, you won’t be allowed to continue until the case is resolved.

Can I become a cop with a felony conviction?

This is another popular questions and the answer is a big fat NO. You won’t get hired as a police officer if you are a convicted felon. There is no way an agency will hire you if you have a felony conviction on your criminal background. Sorry, but it just won’t happen so look for another career.

In conclusion make sure to contact the recruiting department of the agency you are interested in if you have any questions regarding your criminal background.

Can a felon become a cop?

The answer is no. There isn’t a law enforcement agency in the United States that will hire a felon. Even if your case was expunged the likelihood of anyone with a felony record becoming a cop is ZERO.

can you become a police officer with an expunged felony?

The answer is no. Even with with an expunged felony conviction the likelihood of getting hired as a police officer with a felony is ZERO. Agency’s like Chicago PD require that any expunged conviction be disclosed during the selection process.

can you become a police officer with an expunged Misdemeanor?

It all depends on what type of misdemeanor because in most cases minor offense won’t disqualify you. However an offense where your license is suspended will eliminate you. Convictions of perjury, providing false information to law enforcement is a red flag, and it will disqualify you.

Can you be a cop with a DUI conviction?

A dui conviction isn’t one of those automatic disqualifies, however if the case is still pending or if your driver’s license is suspended, L.E. agencies will likely not hire you. Another potential issue might be how many alcohol related arrests have you had. A single lapse in judgment might be forgivable, but more than one isn’t so forgiving.

Are There police departments that hire felons?

There isn’t a single publicly funded law enforcement agency in the United States in existence that will hire someone with a felony conviction.

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