Do I Need to Disclose an Arrest or Conviction on a Job Application in Nevada?

dejected looking young woman waiting for job interview with application in hand

How a criminal history affects employment in Nevada

If you have ever been arrested for a crime, you may wonder whether you need to disclose it on a job application or during an employment interview.

The short answer is that Nevada law allows employers to check your criminal records for convictions, but not arrests.

However, while you are not legally obligated to disclose an arrest if not asked, there is nothing in Nevada law that prevents an employer from asking you if you have ever been arrested (unlike in some other states, such as California). Lying could be grounds for the employer not hiring you, or dismissing you later if the employer finds out.

The good news, however, is that having an arrest or even a conviction in your background does not automatically disqualify you for most jobs. And in some cases, refusing to hire you based on a conviction or an arrest may actually violate your civil rights.

To help you understand how an arrest or conviction can affect employment, our Las Vegas, Nevada criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:

online job application

1. Do I have to disclose a conviction on a job application in Nevada?

Nevada law expressly permits employers to request and receive from criminal justice agencies information about job applicants' criminal records, including:

  • Past convictions, and
  • Incidents for which the prospective employee or volunteer is currently within the system of criminal justice, including parole or probation.1

Failing to disclose a conviction if asked about it could mark you as dishonest and make an employer less likely to hire you. Or, you might get hired, but lose your job later if the conviction is ever discovered (for instance, when you are considered for a promotion).

But while you may think that disclosing a conviction is sure to keep you from getting hired, the fact is that is not always the case.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) pre-employment guidelines advise employers that in deciding whether a particular offense should be disqualifying, the employer should consider:

  • The nature and gravity of the criminal offense or conduct;
  • How much time has passed since the offense or sentence; and
  • The nature of the job (including where it is performed, how much supervision and interaction with others the employee will have, and other factors).

The EEOC guidelines further suggest that employers should give applicants with a record an opportunity to explain the circumstances and provide mitigating information as to why they should not be excluded from employment based on the offense.

We recommend, therefore, that you be prepared to offer a brief explanation (not excuse) of the circumstances and explain why it won't happen again. Emphasize your qualifications for the job and the positive qualities you would bring to the position. Our Nevada criminal lawyers can help advise you whether you are required to disclose a conviction. We can also do mock job interviews to help you prepare for answering your questions on applications or when face-to-face in an interview.

2. What if an employer is discriminating against me?

It is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to use an applicant's criminal history as a pretext for discrimination. If an employer does so, you may be able to sue that employer for violating your civil rights.

Two exceptions are sexual offenses and felonies committed within the previous 7 years. In these cases, Nevada law protects a potential employer from any claim for discrimination in refusing to hire you.2

In addition, depending on the crime, a criminal conviction MAY make you ineligible for employment in certain fields licensed by the state of Nevada, including:

  • Gaming casino employees;3
  • Teachers in public schools (if convicted of felonies or crimes involving moral turpitude);4 
  • School police officers;5
  • Operators of hospitals or other health facilities or programs.6  

3. What if my conviction was sealed?

Once a Nevada conviction is sealed, it is invisible to most employers. However, government agencies may still legally be permitted to obtain and use the data when you are applying for certain licenses or employment by the state of Nevada (for instance, a gaming or health care license).

If you are asked about your criminal history, therefore, you will usually not need to disclose a conviction unless advised that you are required by law to do so.

Our Nevada criminal attorneys can go over your record and advise you on whether you are legally required to disclose your sealed conviction on specific job applications.

To learn more about how and when you can seal a conviction, please see our article on Sealing Criminal Records in Nevada.

4. What about arrests?

The fact that you were arrested is not proof that you engaged in criminal conduct.

Both Nevada and federal guidelines, therefore, discourage inquiries regarding arrests that did not result in conviction. Neither, however, expressly prohibits it.

If a potential employer in Nevada asks you about your arrest history, it may not, by itself, automatically exclude you from consideration. However, a potential employer is within its rights to ask about your arrest record in order to determine whether the underlying conduct may make you unsuitable for the position.

An employer should only take negative action in a hiring decision when:

  • The arrest is recent;
  • It is likely you committed the crime; and
  • There is a relationship between the position and the reason for arrest (for example, you were arrested for shoplifting and are applying for employment as a salesperson).

5. What about juvenile arrests and adjudications?

Some juvenile arrests and adjudications in Nevada are automatically sealed. Others can only be sealed by petition to the court.

Juvenile records cannot be sealed if the adjudication is for an act which would have constituted a felony had you been an adult. These remain on your record and are accessible by potential employers.

However, as noted above, a juvenile adjudication does not automatically disqualify you from most jobs. Rather than trying to hide it, it may be better to emphasize your youth at the time of the act and tell an employer what you have learned from the experience and how it has made you a better person.

To learn how and when you can seal a juvenile record, please see our article on Sealing Juvenile Records in Nevada.

6. What if I did Nevada drug court or another treatment program?

In some cases, if you plead guilty to a Nevada drug charge, the court may sentence you to drug education in lieu of other penalties, or permit you to do Nevada drug court.

Upon successful completion of the program, your case will be completely dismissed. In other words you will not have a conviction on your record.

In such a case, you are not legally required to disclose it on most job applications or in interviews. However, you are still legally required to disclose it to professional licensing boards, for example when seeking a license to practice law or nursing.

Our Las Vegas and Reno criminal lawyer can advise you on when you are required to disclose a drug arrest and diversion.

7. How can I check my Nevada criminal record?

The Nevada Criminal History Repository provides personal criminal history record information for the State of Nevada. To obtain your criminal record (or proof that one does not exist), you will need the following documents:

  • A complete rolled ten print fingerprint card; 
  • A completed ID form DPS-006, and 
  • A money order or cashier's check for the current Nevada criminal record history fees made payable in the correct amount to the Department of Public Safety General Services Division.

As of October 1, 2016, the cost for most people to obtain their Nevada criminal record is $36.25.

Fingerprinting services may be obtained from a law enforcement agency or any authorized fingerprinting service. The ID form DPS-006 can be obtained online, or by mail, fax or in person from the General Services Division. The DPS contact address and telephone number is:

Department of Public Safety
General Services Division
333 West Nye Lane, Suite 100
Carson City, Nevada 89706
Phone: (775) 684-6262

The Department of Public Safety processes requests within 30 days. It may, however, take another 2-4 weeks for delivery of your record.

For more information, please see the Nevada Department of Public Safety, How to Obtain a Copy of Nevada Criminal History Records.

Note that the Nevada Department of Public Safety does not provides criminal records for other states or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). You can obtain your FBI Identification Record or proof that a record does not exist in two ways:

Requets must be accompanied by satisfactory proof of identity (consisting of name, date and place of birth, and a set of rolled-inked fingerprint impressions) and a certified check or money order for the current processing fee.

Requests made directly to the FBI shoud be sent to the FBI's CJIS Division, Attn: SCU, Mod. D-2, 1000 Custer Hollow Rd., Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306.

FBI requests are processed in 12-14 weeks. If there is no criminal record, a report reflecting this fact is provided.

You can also request a criminal history records check a local sheriff's office or police department but, in accordance with Nevada statutes, the response will only include records specific to that office or department.

It is advisable to check your criminal history with the Nevada Department of Public Safety, the FBI and the agency that arrested you. Additionally, if you were arrested in another state, you will need to check that state's records separately.

8. What if the record of my Nevada criminal history is wrong?

In most cases, if you were arrested but you were not convicted and did not plead guilty or no contest, you can request, in writing, that the Nevada Central Repository and law enforcement agency that arrested you remove the record of your arrest from the files available to the public.

The Central Repository and the agency will remove the record unless:

  • You are a fugitive;
  • The case is under active prosecution;
  • The disposition of the case was a deferred prosecution, plea bargain or other similar disposition;
  • You have a prior conviction for a felony or gross misdemeanor in any jurisdiction in the United States; or
  • You have been arrested for or charged with another crime, other than a minor traffic violation, since the arrest, citation or warrant which you wish to have removed from the record.7

To challenge information you feel is in error, you can visit the Nevada Department of Public Safety, General Services Division in person or submit a request in writing to:

Department of Public Safety
General Services Division
333 West Nye Lane, Suite 100
Carson City, NV 89706

The General Services Division staff will research the request and respond to you by mail. If it is determined that the information is erroneous, the corrections will be made at the General Services Division and the FBI will be notified of the corrections.

9. What can I do if I am denied employment based on an erroneous record?

If you were denied employment because of an intentional or grossly negligent error on your criminal record, you may be entitled to sue the Nevada Central Repository for your actual damages.

Such an action is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal proceeding.

10. Can a potential employer disclose my criminal record to others?

A record of your criminal history may be used solely for the purpose for which the record was requested. An employer may not, therefore, disseminate information relating to your criminal record without express authority of law or in accordance with a court order.8

Want to seal your Nevada criminal record? Call us for help…

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If you or someone you know is concerned about how a conviction or arrest may affect your employment, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our caring Reno and Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers can help you correct errors on your criminal record and advise you when and how to disclose your past to a potential employer. In some cases, we may even be able to help you seal your criminal record.

To schedule your free consultation, call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) or fill out the form on this page.

To learn about how a criminal record can affect employment opportunities in California, please see our article Criminal Convictions and Job Applications in California.


Legal references:

  1. NRS 179A.100.
  2. NRS 179A.190
  3. NRS 463A.030.
  4. NRS 391.033 5.  
  5. NRS 391.281.
  6. NRS 449.122; NRS 449.123; and NRS 449.174.
  7. NRS 179A.160.
  8. NRS 179A.110.

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