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Are There Legitimate Reasons Someone Might Hide Their Criminal Records?

Nancy Patterson - April 21, 2020

Are There Legitimate Reasons Someone Might Hide Their Criminal Records

It might blow your mind to find out that on average 1 in every 3 Americans has a criminal conviction on their record. This often comes into play when a company conducts a background check on a potential employee. Often enough people neglect to disclose their record on their applications and you may come across this yourself. So then what is this person hiding and why?

Now there are people out there that will try to keep their past cloaked for nefarious reasons, while some have reasons that you can probably empathize with the reasons people hide their past can vary.

We will highlight some of the reasons people may choose to keep their past to themselves, but with pretty good reasons to do so:


The way we think about our reputation may be quite different if you ask different demographics. While some of the younger generations may immediately jump to their online profiles and how many likes they get per day, the real reputation we have to worry about is our Reputation IRL (in real life… for the benefit of our older generations). Our reputations are what determines a lot about our every day life. Could come in to play when selecting a life partner, a new friend or social group, and how they ultimately think of us. When it is outed that someone you know has a criminal past, it comes with a stigma attached to it, and as such their reputation may suffer. People change and discretions when we were younger can be embarrassing and people just don’t want some stupid mistake to create obstacles in the life they have built since. Is it right? Maybe not. But it certainly can be a significant reason and we should be open to understanding (in some cases…).

Emotional Pain

The country certainly has gone through the spin cycle lately when it comes to emotions. In fact, the FBI reported that in 2014 they saw the “highest number of arrests was for drug abuse violations.” For a lot of those folks arrested on drug related charges it often has mental illness or severe emotional pain attached to the individual. We have all have highs and lows in our lives and for some those lows were extreme. It is often hard to rehash that trauma. Hiding this on their applications is probably a result of severe emotional pain. We all have things we hide about ourselves. A lot of the times our secrets are pretty heavy.


Often regret is the biggest reason people try to get around disclosing their past. Most of us have even done things in our past that we regret. Maybe we stole a piece of candy from the store or perhaps saw someone drop money, and then pick it up for yourself. Maybe you didn’t get caught. Growing up is hard and not everyone is so lucky as to make stupid decisions and get away with them. For some people those stupid decisions lands them in jail, or on probation and is now stuck on their record… forever. Humility is a big part of growing up. It’s what shapes us as adults. Learning from our mistakes and becoming a productive member of society in good standing should be commended. However often enough it is the very reason they are passed up for opportunities. Showing compassion for the individual can land you some diamonds in the rough.


You may know for a fact that someone who is interviewing as a record, but it is not coming up when you do their background check. What the heck? How can this be? Well hold on to your socks kids, it’s actually possible for someone to have a crime completely removed from their record. Well, they can erase it from public records at any rate. The process is called expungement. It is a pretty lengthy and difficult process but it can be done, and it may just explain why it is you aren’t seeing it pop up. Consider that whatever you think you may know, may have actually been looked at and overturned.

The bottom line is we are talking about 1 in 3 individuals in the United States. So, like it or not, you know someone with a criminal record and you don’t know it. The reasons vary as to why people hide their secrets but their past is without a doubt a painful subject for them, and they do not want it to damage their reputations.

So before we decide to past judgements, perhaps exploring the empathetic path may be the right course of action. The data suggests that this situation is more common than you may have believed.

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