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If I’m convicted of a crime, can I still volunteer?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Being convicted of a crime can significantly impact your life, including your ability to volunteer. This is somewhat ironic, given that courts often impose mandatory community service – which is, essentially, court-ordered volunteering – as part of an individual’s sentencing for lower-level offenses. 

While a criminal conviction will not necessarily bar you from all volunteer opportunities, if volunteerism is an important part of your life, it’s important to understand that a conviction could place limits on your ability to give back to your community. 

Background checks, disclosures and restrictions

Many volunteer organizations conduct background checks as part of their vetting process. The nature and extent of these checks can vary depending on the organization’s policies and the type of volunteer work. For example, roles that involve working with vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly or individuals with disabilities, are likely to have more stringent background check requirements. They are also more likely to turn away those with a criminal record than many other organizations are. 

The type of conviction that a volunteer applicant has on their criminal record can influence their eligibility to volunteer. Certain convictions, especially those involving violence, sexual offenses or financial crimes, may limit opportunities, particularly in sensitive areas. However, other types of convictions may not pose as significant a barrier, especially if sufficient time has passed since the conviction and a volunteer applicant can demonstrate rehabilitation.

With that said, in some cases, legal restrictions may apply, limiting your ability to volunteer in certain capacities. For example, individuals on probation or parole might face specific prohibitions regarding volunteer activities. 

At the end of the day, volunteerism can become much tougher in the wake of a criminal conviction. This is just one of the many reasons why those who are facing charges of wrongdoing should strongly consider mounting a vigorous defense.