How Does a Diversion on a Background Check Affect My Chances of Getting a Job?

Close-up of man writing on clipboard
Image Credit: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

For defendants to a minor crime who have no criminal record, diversion is a way to pay for your mistakes without long-term effects on your personal record. How it affects your ability to get a job depends on the kind of job, and on the current status of your diversion.

Diversion Basics

A first-time offender for a relatively minor crime -- usually a misdemeanor -- may be offered the option of a diversion. In a diversion, the case is diverted from standard criminal justice for a period of time lasting several months to a few years. During that time, the defendant takes classes, undergoes counseling and makes appropriate restitution for his crimes. Once he has completed these tasks, and he is arrested for no other crimes during the period of diversion, the entire case is erased from his record.

After Diversion

After your diversion, you are no longer considered having been found guilty of a crime. This means your employer isn't entitled to any information about that part of your past. Assuming your employer doesn't plan to make a detailed examination of the public record on your account, the diversion should have no effect on your chances to land most jobs.

While in Diversion

While in diversion, you are still considered to have pleaded guilty or no contest to a crime. If your employment application asks a relevant question, you will have to answer it honestly. How that affects your chances depends on the job and the crime. For example, a diversion program for getting into a bar fight might not keep you out of a job hauling freight, but may limit your chances of working at a battered women's shelter.

High-Sensitivity Jobs

Some jobs, such as law enforcement or government positions requiring a security clearance, will look into your entire background. Even after you've finished your diversion, you will be asked about your arrest and criminal history and you should answer with absolute honesty. Even with these jobs, a diversion program might not be a deal breaker for employment, especially if it was more than five years previously and you've had no other trouble since.