Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why am I being asked for information about my arrest and conviction history? State and local law require the City of San Francisco (the City) to consider each applicant's arrest and conviction history in determining that person's qualifications for employment. A conviction includes a plea, verdict or other finding of guilt by a court, including a military court, even if no sentence was imposed. For some City jobs, state or federal law may also require a background check.
2. If I have an arrest or conviction in my past, does that automatically rule out City employment? An arrest or conviction history does not automatically preclude City employment generally. Whether an arrest or conviction will prevent employment in a specific job depends on both the type of arrest or conviction and the job for which you have applied.
For some City jobs, depending on the nature of the work and the work location, state or federal law may bar people with certain convictions from working in those jobs. In its job announcements, the City attempts to identify any convictions that preclude employment in a particular job. If you have a conviction that legally disqualifies you from working in a certain classification or position, then that conviction would preclude City employment in that particular job, but it may not rule out City employment in other classifications or positions.
For jobs where a conviction is not an automatic exclusion, the City looks at arrest and conviction history on a case-by-case basis and evaluates several factors related to the arrest or conviction in determining an applicant's suitability for the job. Those factors include (1) the nature and gravity of the offense; (2) the degree to which the arrest or conviction is related to the duties and responsibilities of the job; (3) age when arrested or convicted; (4) the time elapsed since the arrest or conviction; (5) evidence of rehabilitation; and (6) any other mitigating circumstances.
3. What arrests and convictions must I disclose?
You must disclose the following arrests:
i) an arrest for which you are currently out on bail or out on your own recognizance pending trial;
ii) if you are applying for a position with regular access to patients at a health care facility (as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 1250), you are required to disclose an arrest under any section as specified in Penal Code Section 290; or
iii) if you are applying for a position with access to drugs and medication at a health facility (as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 1250), you are required to disclose an arrest under any section specified in Health and Safety Code Section 11590.
Except for those convictions listed in Question/Answer 4. b. below, you must disclose all convictions by any criminal or military court, and even if pardoned under California Penal Code Section 4852.16.
Note: applicants for positions as peace officers or for positions with a criminal justice agency (as defined in Penal Code Section 13101) are subject to different disclosure requirements. If you are applying for one of these positions, please consult with the Department of Human Resources.
4. Are there any arrests or convictions that I do not need to disclose?
Except as listed in Question/Answer 3.a. above, you do not need to disclose any arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction.
You do not need to disclose the following:
i) any record regarding a referral to or participation in any pretrial or posttrial diversion program;
ii) any conviction where you have successfully completed a deferred entry of judgment program. If you are currently participating in a deferred entry of judgment program, you must disclose that conviction;
iii) a conviction where the Court has ordered the record sealed, expunged or statutorily eradicated;
iv) a conviction for a traffic offense where the fine was less than $400;
v) a misdemeanor conviction for which probation was successfully completed or otherwise discharged and the case has been judicially dismissed under Penal Code Section 1203.4;
vi) a conviction that is more than two years old and is for one of the following violations: (i) Health & Safety Code Section 11357 (b) or (c), or any statutory predecessor to that section; (ii) Health & Safety Code Section 11360(c), or any statutory predecessor to that section; or (iii) Health & Safety Code Sections 11364, 11365, and 11550 as they relate to marijuana prior to January 1, 1976, or any statutory predecessors to those sections; or
vii) any conviction while a juvenile (under 18 years old), unless the job announcement identifies particular convictions that must be disclosed for that particular classification or position, regardless of age when convicted.
5. How will the City use my arrest and conviction information? At some point in the hiring process, the City will review your conviction history form. It will also verify the information on the form by taking and sending your fingerprint to the Department of Justice. If the information provided by you on the form and the information from the Department of Justice is different, then the City will take the steps described in Question/Answer 6. below.
If you have applied for a job where certain convictions preclude employment, the City will conduct its review at an early stage of the hiring process. If the City determines that you have a disqualifying conviction, then it will not consider you further for that job. If you have applied for a job where there is no conviction that would automatically bar employment, the City will not review or consider your arrest and conviction history unless you become a finalist for the job (e.g., your name is referred to a Department off an eligible list). If the information you provide on this form is verified as accurate, the City will evaluate your arrest and conviction history as explained in Question/Answer 2. above. If the information from you and the Department of Justice is different, then the City will also follow the steps described in Question/Answer 6. below. Generally, the City will not hire any employee until it has completed the arrest and conviction history review process. The City limits disclosure of your arrest and conviction history to a need to know basis.
6. What if I don't disclose an arrest or conviction that is part of the required disclosure? If you do not include an arrest or conviction on the conviction history form that you are required to disclose, that nondisclosure may be considered falsification of your application. Generally, if the information on this form and the information from the Department of Justice is different, a representative of the City will meet with you and allow you an opportunity to explain the conflict. Depending on the circumstances, failure to reveal an arrest or conviction that must be disclosed may cause the City not to select you for the job or, if you are already appointed, may lead to termination of your employment. Depending on the circumstances, it may also result in restrictions on future employment with the City.
7. What if I am not selected because of my arrest or conviction history? If you are not selected for a job based on your conviction history, you may appeal the decision to the Civil Service Commission. Appeals may be filed in writing with the Executive Officer, Civil Service Commission, 25 Van Ness Avenue, Ste. 720, San Francisco, CA, 94102. Appeals must be submitted within five business days following the postmarked mailing date of the notice of rejection.