For sex offenders, their punishment doesn’t end when they leave the prison. Finding any gainful employment is very difficult, and finding work in the career of their choice is next to impossible.
Being convicted of a sex offense can be very damaging for your reputation long after the end of your sentence. The sex offender registry is a nationwide online database listing the names of certain sex offenders. The registry includes the address for your school, work, and home, current photo, and an extensive list of other identifying factors. The registry also has a description of the crime, and the risk level of each offender. The registry, by law, must be available to the public, including employers.
Felony sex offenders, those who commit crimes of violence, and habitual offenders all require registration. In some cases, it is up to the judge sentencing you to determine if you pose a threat to the community, in which case it would be the judge’s duty to add you to the registry. Repeat offenders are also often added to the database.
Who isn’t on the registry? In Colorado, those convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime are not required to register. For the most part, juvenile offenders are also excluded from the registry. Employers can still conduct criminal background checks, however. Additionally, once information is posted on the internet, it can be very difficult to erase it completely, especially in the case of third-party background checks.
Restrictions on Registered Sex Offenders
One of the most pressing difficulties is finding a business that meets the strict criteria dictating where you can work. Under Colorado restrictions, some offenders under supervision cannot legally work within a certain distance from schools, parks, and other places children congregate. Jobs that involve contact with children are also required to perform background checks, and will not hire anyone who has been convicted of a sex offense. The same is true for other vulnerable populations, like the elderly.
Many sex offenders have restrictions on computer and internet use as well, which can make browsing for open positions very difficult. It also rules out many modern and white collar jobs that require high levels of internet use.
Employers and Public Records
According to some estimates, 92% of employers perform background checks on new hires. Federal laws meant to prevent discrimination provide guidelines on hiring ex-cons. They say that employers must consider the severity of the crime, the amount of time that has passed, and whether an ex-convict would pose a threat to staff or other customers.
However, most employers will reject a convicted sex offender outright. Furthermore, the current competitive job market means any employer will likely have several other applicants without criminal backgrounds. Finally, most employers could make a case—if you forced them through long, expensive civil action—that they rejected you out of genuine concern for others’ safety. Service industry jobs, for example, involve high levels of interaction with customers of all ages, and employers could make the case they were concerned for the safety of younger customers.
Employers will also consider backlash from their community and other employees when hiring a registered sex offender. If word gets out that a registered sex offender is working at a local store, or in an office alongside employees, it can severely damage the reputation of the business, or even cause other employees to leave.
All of the above factors can make it very difficult—although not impossible—for any offender to find work. You can also say goodbye to your ability to do things like choose a convenient location or pick the hours you want. If you find something, you pretty much have to take it.
Registered offenders can speak with their counselor or probation officers about their job options. Government funded temp agencies may be available for the purposes of browsing job listings for those who have restrictions on internet usage.
The bottom line is, if you have been charged with a sex offense, it is critical you get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A conviction can have a severe impact on your career, reputation, freedom, and livelihood, so you need to do everything in your power to fight the charges and hope that you can get them dropped or greatly reduced.