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I am in my first year of college. I am going for my bachelor's degree in criminal justice. I want to know if I have been in any kind of trouble will this for sure disqualify me?

I am 38 years old and I am a mother of 3 kids. #college #criminal-justice #degree


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Kim’s Answer

Katrina,

The answer varies by state/agency. I have been out of law enforcement for ten years. I can tell you that back then, at least at my department, a deferred felony was still treated as a felony conviction. Is the period of deferral over? Can you get it expunged from your record? No matter what you do, even if you get it expunged, you will still want to disclose it unless the application states specifically that you can withhold it.

I am looking at Oklahoma peace officer info. It states that it is a disqualifier if the applicant "was convicted in court of a felony." I can't find any exceptions.

I stumbled onto something that said Colorado is more lenient:

"An individual convicted of any felony as an adult is ineligible, and no variance is allowed for a felony conviction with the following exceptions:
Deferred judgments and sentencing agreements
Deferred prosecution agreements
Pretrial diversion agreements"

If you are willing to move to Colorado, then, there is a possibility. You would of course need to meet all other requirements. If the felony was for domestic violence, drugs, or theft, it's still likely going to be "no," as those are the three main categories that departments avoid hiring.

The CJ degree is cross-marketable in social service occupations, among others, so please don't give up on your education!

Kim

EDIT: I forgot to commend you for going to school at your age! I know it's not easy! Secondly, you asked in another place about discussing things privately with us. We are not allowed to give you our contact information. If you find it elsewhere on other sites, that is up to you. I answer all correspondence.

Because you are an adult, I think it is important for you to be realistic in your expectations. Some requirements are mandated by the state licensing agencies. If the state says "no, not at all," then, no agency in that state can or will hire you. So, you want to look up the state licensing requirements for peace officers, as I did for Colorado. Tennessee actually allows for waivers. See chapter 1110-09.04, here: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/commerce/documents/post/resources/POST_Rules.pdf

I again want to encourage you to be open-minded about other options. Some agencies use civilian crime scene investigators (San Antonio), but I would speculate that they have close to the same standards as the police officers. See here for info on Tennessee: https://www.crimesceneinvestigatoredu.org/tennessee/

A position that I recently interacted with was the "Victims Advocate Office," which is part of the District Attorney's office. My parents were the victims of a felony. The Victims Advocate office sent my parents questionnaires to fill out as to how the crime had impacted them. They then use this information when asking for punishment from the court. They do other things as well. Some crime victims advocates will help victims through the process (such as staying with victims of sexual assault while at the hospital, getting them counseling, etc)

After looking at the Tennessee CSI page, you may want to consider shifting your major to Forensic Science. Anyway, I hope this helps you!

Kim

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to look this up for me. I wanted to let you know that I am supposed to be moving to Tennessee this month, but not sure now. I will not give up on my education and the path I have chosen. I believe that if I graduate then God will open the door for me to become what I want to be. I guess I should let you know why I have chosen this path. My friend was murdered when she was 16 and it has been almost 22 years now and they still have not brought the men that done this to her to justice. That is why I want to do this. I want to be able to help families like my friends family to get the justice they so deserve. Katrina V.

Please see my initial response, as I added to it. Kim Igleheart

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George’s Answer

Not necessarily. The writer is one who can relate to this topic. First of all, it's very important that you are totally honest at school and job applications.
If the offense, even criminal, is related to substance abuse, bear in mind that addiction is a disease and should be treated, by law, as such. In my case, I did go through Addiction Treatment, joined a 12 Steps fellowship, i.e.: AA or NA, and have maintained my sobriety throughout. I've always answered "yes" to "Have you ever been arrested?" and was willing to give full explanations, together with my present situation and way of life.
At one point, I was already hired at a Treatment Center and was approached by DCF disqualifying me for my counseling position. I requested a review as allowed by law, and after presenting the necessary documentation showing what professionals in the community could attest about my present life-style, I was exempted by DCF. . Hope this helps.

George recommends the following next steps:

If your legal situation does not involved substance abuse, you might need to ask for opinions by other professionals
If more information is needed, feel welcome to contact me

Thank you and I am not sure I want to share my background on here is there a way I can do that privately? Katrina V.

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Kimberly’s Answer

One thing you should keep in mind is that if you want to work for the Federal Department of Justice as an attorney there will be a problem. When you apply, you must answer whether or not you have committed (not necessarily been charged or convicted) a felony. And, answering yes automatically excludes you from that position. For example, if you have smoked marijuana in a state where it is legal, it is still true that smoking marijuana is against federal law. Admitting to violating that law would prevent you from working for the DOJ. And, should you keep it to yourself when completing the application and that lie is later exposed it would be would be cause for immediate dismissal.

That being said, any youthful misdemeanor or foolish indiscretion (unless you killed or hurt someone driving under the influence, or a conviction for sexual assault) will be forgiven by college or graduate school admission officers and most employers. You will need to admit your mistake honestly and be able to comfortably articulate what you have learned from your experience.

As the previous answer suggests, it is always better to be honest about any mistake, criminal or otherwise. As you grow in your profession, the more good work you do (as a police officer, attorney in private practice, as a social worker, or in almost any other profession) will overcome any mistakes you have made.

Kimberly recommends the following next steps:

Practice discussing what you have learned from your mistake. (On most college and graduate school applications you will be asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime or been expelled from school and asked to explain the circumstances.) You should be able to write thoughtfully about the incident, illustrating the ways you have matured since. It is essential not to blame others. Rather, acknowledge your own fault, your regret, and how you plan to avoid such mistakes going forward.

I am really wanting to know if I can become a crime scene investigator with a deferred felony? Katrina V.

Katrina, I am sorry, but I don’t know. I don’t work in that world (I am a college counselor for high school students.) If you are close to any of your professors, you should just ask them privately. If you are nervous about doing so, you could fall back on the old trick: “I have a friend who has a deferred felony. Do you think he could be a crime scene investigator?” I’ll check with a friend who is an attorney in that world and see if they know the answer. Kimberly Crouch

That would be awesome. I have tried asking my success coach and I keep getting the run around. I would greatly appreciate it. I will do anything to be able to solve murders. I know that this is my calling. Katrina V.

Based on the well- researched comment from Kim above, you should be able to figure out what the rules are in your state. Go to the website of the state (or local) jurisdiction and see what the qualifications/restrictions are. Good luck! Kimberly Crouch

Dear Katrina, Let me know where in Tennessee you are planning to live. I am pretty familiar with most of the colleges and universities in the state. Kimberly Crouch

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Angela D.’s Answer

Hi Katrina...great advice from all! My husband is retired law enforcement and echoed that you need to research the state(s) and agency/institution where you wish to be employed. Also, certification may be tricky, so look into that as well. The type of felony/sentencing will be important, as well as your age at the time. Getting the record expunged would be a game changer, not just for the criminal justice field, but for any other career/job that requires a background check. This will increase your opportunities and range of choices. Wishing you the best in your endeavors, Dr. B

Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time into looking into this for me. I would like to tell you all what my felony is for but not on here and I do not want to be judged. Katrina V.

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