We hear the terms “misdemeanor” and “felony” used regarding crimes, and we know that felonies are serious offenses that can land people in prison.

But don’t take misdemeanors lightly.

While less serious than felonies, misdemeanors still can lead to fines and time in county jails. Also, misdemeanor convictions can have serious impacts on future employment in Florida and elsewhere.

If you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor, you need to know what’s next when it comes to your job search.

Prospective employers are entitled to run criminal background checks on potential hires. That’s where your misdemeanor conviction might first show up. So when you’re filling out job applications or going through employment interviews, it’s wise to own up to your criminal past even if the application or the interviewer doesn’t ask. If they’re going to find out about it on the background check anyway, wouldn’t it be better for them to hear it from you?

Addressing your conviction shows that you are taking accountability for your actions, but it also will give you a chance to explain to your prospective boss just what happened. There is a human element to your story that a background check won’t explain. You can discuss the circumstances of your arrest and conviction, then explain what you learned from your mistake. The phrase “the cover up is worse than the crime” certainly applies to job applicants.

Your honesty doesn’t guarantee you’ll be hired for the job, but don’t discount applying for other positions. Probation officers often have a list of employers who hire applicants with convictions. Your probation officer might serve as a job reference for you if they believe you learned your lesson.

If you’re still not having luck finding a job, consider consulting a defense attorney. Your particular offense may qualify to be expunged from your record.