In administering the San Francisco Civil Service Commission's Policy on Disclosure and Review of Criminal History, the Department of Human Resources (DHR) fingerprints candidates through its Centralized Conviction History Program to retrieve criminal offender record information (CORI) as one aspect of discerning suitability for a job. Candidates, identified by the hiring department in the selection process, are fingerprinted (as necessary) and past convictions (and arrests, if applicable) are then reviewed to determine if the candidate's conviction history poses a nexus to the specific position for which they are applying. The review is based on three core factors: recency, relevance, and rehabilitation, as well as other job-related factors that may be significant to the particular position.
All selected candidates from outside the City, as well as City employees moving to a position subject to a statutory bar, will undergo pre-employment fingerprinting and conviction history review.
Current City employees who are moving to a position not subject to any statutory bar, can undergo fingerprinting (if necessary) and conviction history review within 30 calendar days of appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need to go through a conviction history review?
State and local laws require the City and County of San Francisco (the City) to consider each selected candidate's conviction history to determine whether the nature of their conviction (or arrest, in limited circumstances) conflicts with the specific duties and responsibilities of the position for which they have applied. For some City positions, State or Federal law may also require a background check based on a statutory bar.
For current City employees (not including employees at the Community College District (CCD), Unified School District (USD), and Court (CRT)) being appointed to a position with no statutory bar(s), fingerprinting and conviction history review processes can occur post-appointment.
If I have an arrest or conviction history, does that automatically bar me from City employment?
An arrest or conviction history does not automatically prohibit a candidate from City employment generally. The City looks at conviction history on a case-by-case basis and evaluates several factors related to the conviction (or arrest, in limited circumstances) in determining a candidate’s suitability for the position. Those factors include the following:
- The nature and gravity of the offense.
- The degree to which the arrest or conviction is related to the duties and responsibilities of the position.
- The time elapsed since the arrest or conviction.
- The age when arrested or convicted.
- Frequency of convictions.
- The evidence of rehabilitation.
- Any other mitigating circumstances.
For some City positions, State or Federal law may bar individuals with certain convictions from working in those positions depending on the nature of the work and the work location. If a candidate has a conviction history that makes it illegal to work in a certain classification or position, then they may not work in that particular position. However, it does not automatically bar them from City employment in other classifications or positions.
What arrests and convictions affect employment decisions?
i) In general, arrests are not considered in determining a candidate’s suitability for employment. However, arrests may affect employment decisions, as permitted by law, for specific positions such as peace officers;
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 care 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.
Any conviction(s) determined to be in conflict with the duties and responsibilities of the position for which you applied will be considered in determining your suitability for employment. Such determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and are specific to the position for which you applied.
Note: candidates for positions as peace officers or for positions with a criminal justice agency (as defined in Penal Code Section 13101) are subject to disclosure requirements.
Are there any arrests or convictions that are not considered during a conviction history review?
Any arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction is not considered during a conviction history review, unless the position is with a criminal justice agency or subject to Health and Safety Code Section 1250.
The following convictions are not considered during conviction history reviews:
i) Any conviction resulting in a referral to or participation in any pretrial or post trial diversion program;
ii) Any conviction where you have successfully completed a deferred entry of judgment program;
iii) Any conviction where the Court has ordered the record sealed, expunged or statutorily eradicated;
iv) Any conviction for a traffic offense where the fine was less than $400;
v) Any 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) Any conviction issued by a juvenile (under 18 years old) court, unless the job announcement identifies particular convictions that relate to that particular classification or position, regardless of age when convicted.
How will the City use my arrest and conviction information?
As a selected candidate, the City will conduct a review of your conviction history to determine whether the nature of your conviction(s) (or arrest(s), in limited circumstances) conflicts with the specific duties and responsibilities of the position for which you have applied. Generally, the City will not hire an individual until the conviction history review process has been completed.
Furthermore, the City limits disclosure of your conviction history to hiring departments on a need to know basis.
For current City employees (not including employees at the Community College District (CCD), Unified School District (USD), and Court (CRT) being appointed to a position with no statutory bar(s), fingerprinting and conviction history review processes can occur post-appointment.
What if I am not hired because of my arrest or conviction history?
If it is determined that you are not eligible for a position based on your conviction history, that determination only pertains to that specific position; you are not automatically excluded from any other position(s) with the City and County of San Francisco. Additionally, you may appeal the decision to the Civil Service Commission (Commission). Individuals who are not eligible for a position based on conviction history will receive specific instruction on how to file an appeal. You may also visit the Commission website for instructions on how to file an appeal at https://sfgov.org/civilservice/appeals. Appeals must be received in writing within five business days of the date of the Conviction History Notice of Determination.
How can I have an arrest or conviction removed from my record?
Clean Slate is a program of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office that can help people “clean up” their criminal records. For more information about the program, please contact the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office at (415) 553-9337 or visit their website at http://sfpublicdefender.org/services/clean-slate/.
What is a statutory bar?
Statutory bars to employment exist for certain positions, and if a person is convicted of specific offenses, that person is automatically ineligible for the job. Statutory bars are federal, state, or local laws that automatically disqualify applicants from positions that have certain responsibilities, such as supervising minors.
Common statutory bars include:
- California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS): Prohibits all personnel (including non-criminal justice, volunteer personnel, and private vendor technical or maintenance personnel) with a felony conviction from having physical access to CLETS
- Public Resources Code 5164: Prohibits the City from hiring individuals (including volunteers) with certain criminal backgrounds to work with children in recreational areas
- Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA): Prohibits the City from hiring anyone who may have contact with inmates, who possess certain sex convictions specified in the regulation
- IRS Publication 1075: Applies to all current and prospective City employees, volunteers, contractors, and subcontractors that have access to Federal Tax Information (FTI)
- North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC): Applies to employees working in bulk power systems and treatment plants at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC)