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What are different law enforcement agencies positions on hiring someone who has illegally downloaded?

What are different law enforcement agencies positions on hiring someone who has illegally downloaded? If someone downloaded less than 150 songs and 2 movies when they were 13 would that disqualify them from any position in law enforcement in the future? #criminal-justice #law-enforcement

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Kevin’s Answer

The others have given good answers. The only thing I'll add is, you have to be honest. I can not stress that enough. There's no place in LE for someone who lies. If you screw up, be honest about it. I tell my own kids, if you do something wrong, just tell me. The punishment will be a lot worse if you lie about it.

May years ago, I did some minor damage to a squad car. After it happened I wrote a memo, up the chain, to my Captain explaining what had happened. Since I had been up front and honest about it, nothing further was done. Had I just parked the car and not said anything, I could have been suspended or fired.

It takes a very long time to build up a person's character, but only one instance will bring it crumbling down.

As for you downloading songs, be honest and upfront about it. As long as you do that, there's no need to worry about it.

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Joe’s Answer

Most states don't look at a 13 year-olds error in judgement and determine that they can never be trusted as an adult, especially if that is their only 'big ticket' mistake. At 14,( In Re:Gault and In Re; Gladys R) however, case law chips away at the "I'm young and didn't understand..." mindset as most young people have had all kinds of role models and can start to determine appropriate behavior and the courts start looking as to whether the minor "knew the wrongfulness of the act". If you got caught downloading illegally in all likelihood your parent/legal guardian had to address the financial losses and endure scrutiny as to whether they were properly 'supervising' their child.


Eight years later and you are looking at your potential career, you are competing against two types of people for the career...1st, all the other qualified applicants who have NO items in their background (a very small list to be sure) and 2nd, the person you evolved to be. For each year you are on probation, think 3-5 years after you are released to apply. Get some college in! If you are not on any supervision, great, just have 5-7 solid character references (not all family, please) who can and will attest to your growth, good behavior and maturity expected of public servants. Even the things we think we get away with will eventually arise in a thorough background check, so be honest, give explanations, not excuses and be persistent. Make the changes necessary to be a good candidate, but be true to YOU. Some agencies say No, while other say, Yes and each individual may be treated according to their situation. I still remember my background examination from the 1980's which afforded me a great law enforcement career of almost 30 years! You can do it, just PREPARE.

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Kim’s Answer

Hello again, Christina!


Relax, it is not the end of the world. Just about every cop did something wrong at one time or another. The thing is, when you are doing the background check, if you say you NEVER lied, broke the law, or did anything wrong whatsoever, they will know you are lying and won't hire you. Thankfully, what you did was at a young age. Do not try to minimize it, as royalties for music and video are a big deal, and unlawful downloads is theft. Take responsibility for your actions. That is what they will be looking for. And please, don't do anything else wrong! (also watch out for your on-line presence, as they will definitely check that out, and don't get any tattoos or piercings!)


(p.s., I got picked up by cops twice as a kid. Once for curfew and once for firecrackers.)

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Jordan’s Answer

Everybody else is pretty much spot-on. In short, the best thing you can do is "over share" during background checks, polygraphs, etc. Your processing officers will know about a lot of the things with records, and will appreciate hearing the things without. The biggest disqualifier is dishonesty.

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Brad’s Answer

In Texas someone under 17 years of age is considered a juvenile, can't be filed on as an adult unless 16 and a very serious felony. Crime committed as a juvenile are not usually considered when becoming an adult. They can still be brought forward by the court. Crime listed here is not serious. If during the background check you answer that you have never committed a crime it will come back on you. Best thing to do is be honest with the investigator. During the questions you will be able to answer all negative answers to get your past as a juvenile cleared up for employment. But, remember it could still be held against you because employees are looking for the best candidate. Honesty is always the best solution.
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James’s Answer

Tell them the truth. There will be a background investigation. If you lie, more than likely they will find out. That would be an automatic disqualifier. If you are honest, it says something about your character. Make sure to emphasize that you have learned and are a new person since. The more time that passes between the incident and now will help your case.
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