Is a Petty Misdemeanor a Crime?
A petty misdemeanor is not considered a crime under Minnesota law. Minn Stat. §609.02.
Are there legal ramifications for withholding a petty misdemeanor conviction when filling out a job application that asks if “you have ever been convicted of a crime”?
A petty misdemeanor is not a crime under Minnesota law. Petty misdemeanor convictions are, however, a matter of public record and part of your criminal record; petty misdemeanors will show up on certain background checks. Therefore, it is paramount to play close attention to the specific language on any job application. If the application asks you whether you have been convicted of a crime, then you can honestly and correctly omit any conviction of a petty misdemeanor. If on the other hand, the application specifically asks you to include a conviction of a petty misdemeanor, than you should correctly answer that question and include it. Petty misdemeanors are not very serious offenses; the ramifications from being caught lying will be far more severe than the risk of not being hired due to admitting the truth. A simple explanation for the context of the conviction will also likely satisfy any concerns your potential employer might have.
Are most employment applications seeking this information in the first place?
The specific language for most job applications varies. Some will only ask for felony convictions, some will ask whether you have ever been convicted of a crime. Most if not all jobs will have a question related to an individual’s criminal history.
Are there any ethical considerations when withholding petty misdemeanors from an employment application?
Minnesota Law does not consider petty misdemeanors to be crimes because they are not very serious. Employers are generally fully aware of the law on this issue and many of them have consulted with attorneys when drafting up these applications. If they wanted to know about your petty misdemeanor convictions, they would specifically ask for them. You should not feel ethically bound to disclose your petty misdemeanor convictions on employment applications if they only ask whether you have been convicted of a crime.