Can I Still Get a Job if I Have a Domestic Violence Charge in California?

domestic violence charge ruined my life

For those arrested on domestic violence charges in California, the consequences can go far beyond legal penalties. Even without a conviction, just the existence of a domestic violence arrest record can ruin job prospects across many industries.

Employers often conduct background checks that turn up arrests and convictions for domestic violence. This immediately raises red flags that can prompt them to reject an applicant. After all, companies screen candidates not just for criminal histories but for any behavior that could negatively impact customers, workplace culture, and their brand reputation.

But while a domestic violence charge presents very real challenges in finding employment, the situation is not hopeless. There are still paths forward to securing a good job in California, as long as you prepare wisely and market yourself effectively. By understanding employers’ concerns, targeting the right positions, and taking steps to clear or explain your record, it is possible to successfully re-enter the workforce.

Understanding How a Domestic Violence Conviction Can Limit Your Job Options

The main hurdle to gaining employment with a domestic violence arrest record is that many employers simply will not consider candidates who they know have been charged with this type of crime.

Employers cite numerous reasons for avoiding applicants with histories of domestic violence charges, even without a conviction:

  • Safety Concerns – Employers may worry about potential violence or aggression affecting staff and customers. This is especially true for jobs involving unsupervised access to vulnerable people.
  • Ethics – A domestic violence charge may indicate poor character, judgment, and self-control in an applicant’s past. Even if reformed, employers worry about how this could reflect on their company culture.
  • Industry Restrictions – Some sectors like healthcare, finance, education, transportation, and government preclude hiring candidates with specific criminal records. This often includes domestic violence cases.
  • Negligent Hiring – Employers can face lawsuits for negligent hiring if an employee with a known violent history harms someone. This motivates rigorous screening for domestic violence charges.

While a domestic violence arrest by itself does not always equal a conviction, many employers still treat it as a disqualifying factor. Furthermore, charges for domestic violence tend to linger on your record for many years and routinely surface on standard background checks.

However, some types of work may still welcome your application, especially if you use the right approach.

Strategies For Finding Employment With a Domestic Violence Record

Do not let a domestic violence charge completely discourage you. With persistence and creativity, there are ways to get your foot in the door and convince employers to look past your record. Consider the following tips:

Be Upfront About Your History

If asked directly about your criminal record, be honest about the domestic violence arrest. Express regret and emphasize how much you have changed. Highlight positive steps and self-improvement efforts made since the incident.

While scary, bringing it up yourself takes away an employer’s ability to be surprised by a background check. It shows you are taking responsibility for your past.

Focus Your Job Search

Realistically, some positions will likely remain off-limits. But fields like construction, manufacturing, food service, janitorial work and manual labor are often more open to applicants with a criminal record. Smaller businesses also have more flexibility in hiring.

Seeking roles without access to confidential information, vulnerable groups, cash/finances, or sensitive company infrastructure can avoid raising red flags.

Explore Clearing Your Charge

Under California Penal Code sections 1203.4, 1203.4a, and 1203.41, those completing probation or those who have been successfully rehabilitated if you went to prison can petition a court to expunge the conviction. If successful, most employers cannot legally consider the conviction in hiring. Meet with a domestic violence attorney to understand your options.

Get an Employer Reference

Secure a positive letter of recommendation from any past employer, teacher, coach, or community leader who can vouch for your abilities and character. This helps counteract the stigma related to your record.

Highlight Your Soft Skills

On your resume and in interviews, emphasize soft skills like teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and punctuality. Tout specialized licenses or technical skills applicable to the position as well. This focuses employers on your positive attributes versus your past mistakes.

Industries More Likely to Hire Those with a DV Charge

While no two businesses operate the same, some industries tend to be more open to hiring those with domestic violence charges. High turnover roles with labor shortages are often viable options, including:

Food Service and Hospitality

Restaurants, hotels, resorts, and catering companies frequently experience staffing challenges. They may weigh hiring needs over minor criminal records. Seek waiter, line cook, dishwasher, bellhop, and maintenance positions.

Manufacturing and Warehousing

Factory and warehouse settings need abundant manual labor. Screening standards may be less stringent except for sensitive managerial roles. Look for assembly line, stocking, packaging, and fulfillment roles.

Construction and Landscaping

Facing constant demand for workers, construction firms and landscapers routinely hire applicants with varied backgrounds if they have relevant skills. Ask about laborer, moving, flooring, painting, and groundskeeper roles.

Startups and Small Businesses

Growing startups and small companies have more flexibility in their hiring protocols than big corporations. With fewer resources for extensive background checks, small business owners may instead judge you on your merits.

Getting Legal Help Clearing Your Record

While not guaranteed, clearing your domestic violence arrest record through California’s penal code can greatly improve your appeal to potential employers. Consult with a criminal defense lawyer to understand your options based on the circumstances of your specific case.

Having an arrest expunged, dismissed, or sealed – if qualified under state law – takes away the ability of most employers to consider the incident in their hiring decisions. It is up to you to take proactive legal steps to make this happen. An experienced attorney maximizes the odds that your petition will be approved.

Moving Forward With Your Career After a Domestic Violence Conviction

A past domestic violence arrest can feel like an insurmountable barrier, closing doors across countless industries and roles. But properly managing your record and strategically targeting the right positions means you can still find meaningful work. Being honest, highlighting your strengths, and being open-minded about opportunities pave the way for career success.

If you require experienced legal help clearing or explaining a past domestic violence arrest, reach out to our firm. Our California criminal defense attorneys at Kolacia Law have assisted many clients like you in dropping domestic violence charges and expungements of eligible offenses. We know California employment laws and can advise if your record may be concealed or removed.

There is hope – contact us today to discuss your case.

Author Bio

Daniel Kolacia is the CEO and Managing Partner of Kolacia Law Firm, a Rancho Cucamonga, CA, criminal defense law firm. As a former prosecutor with more than 15 years of experience in criminal defense, he is knowledgeable about both sides of the courtroom, an advantage he uses to help defend his clients. He has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including white-collar crimes, misdemeanors, felonies, traffic cases, and other criminal charges.

Daniel received his Juris Doctor from the Southwestern University School of Law and is a member of the California Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work and has worked on several high-profile cases featured on Dateline, CNBC, Los Angeles Times, and various local publications.

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