Nearly all theft convictions are first-degree misdemeanors or felonies in Florida. So, even after a person serves a sentence and pays fines and restitution for a theft conviction, it could affect his or her job opportunities indefinitely.
A vague statute allows some interpretation for employers and other authorities, which they may use at their discretion to disqualify applicants.
What does Statute 112.011 say?
The statute begins by saying that most convictions should not disqualify people from employment. However, it immediately goes on to say that a felony or first-degree misdemeanor that directly relates to the type of position could disqualify a job applicant.
The statute also allows regulatory authorities to deny permits, licenses or certifications for trade, vocation, occupation profession or business purposes. The felony or first-degree misdemeanor must directly relate to the standards for that particular permit, license or certification that the authorities believe are necessary to protect public safety, health and welfare.
Are the conviction and the job related?
An employer or regulatory authority would have to prove that the theft conviction would affect the applicant’s ability to do the job, or that it is not in the public’s interests for the applicant to hold the license, certificate or permit. The ease of making this connection depends on the nature of the theft, such as the value of the property and the circumstances under which the person took it.
The Intelligencer warns that there are other ways that an applicant could end up with a denial or job loss. Many standards and other requirements specifically state that the applicant must be of “good moral character.” However, this phrase may be even more ambiguous than the phrase “directly related.” Some authorities or employers may hold that simply having a recent conviction precludes good moral character. It may be difficult for applicants to prove otherwise, even though they have completed their sentence and paid their debt to society.
This is just one type of collateral consequence that may make it difficult for people with a conviction to get back on their feet again.