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Criminal Background Checks – What You Need to Know

Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, criminal background checks are an essential part of the hiring process. They can help you find the right candidate for the job, improve the quality of your hires, and lower the risk of employee theft or negligent hiring lawsuits.

A background check is a legal investigation into the past of a potential hire, and the results are provided to employers in the form of a criminal report. This information can include court records from national, state, and county databases that will provide detailed information about a candidate’s criminal history.

What Does a Criminal Record Look Like?

A criminal record is a detailed listing of a person’s arrest, charge, and conviction histories. This can include any pending charges, as well as any charges that have been dismissed or acquitted.

There are many types of criminal convictions, including felony offenses, misdemeanor crimes, and traffic violations. Each type of crime can present a different type of risk for your company. For example, a felony conviction may be a red flag for hiring employees that handle cash, sensitive financial data, or other important property.

What Does a Criminal Record Even Look Like?

Despite the fact that a criminal record includes any arrests and charges that are filed, there is no proof of guilt without a verdict and conviction. This is why most employers are averse to weighing these factors heavily.

Some states and municipalities have enacted “ban-the-box” laws that prevent employers from asking about criminal history until a candidate has accepted a job offer. In addition, some private employers with more than ten employees may not inquire about a candidate’s criminal history until they have submitted a conditional job offer or been notified of their denial.

Federal and Statewide Searches

Employers can conduct nationwide or statewide searches to obtain a candidate’s criminal history. These searches search national, state, and county court records for a variety of offenses, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.

Statewide criminal records searches background checks can reveal a candidate’s past felony and misdemeanor offenses, as well as any traffic violations that occurred within the state. These searches can also uncover any other types of criminal offenses that a candidate has been convicted of, such as fraud or illegal drugs.

Federal criminal records searches can reveal a candidate’s history for federal crimes, such as kidnapping and tax evasion. These searches use data from all federal district and appellate courts, as well as state and county repositories.

Arrests That Didn’t Lead to Conviction

Depending on the jurisdiction, an employer can only consider certain arrests for employment purposes. These include felony arrests and minor misdemeanor offenses that are less than seven years old.

If a criminal conviction has been expunged, then it should not appear on the applicant’s criminal history report. However, some states still allow employers to consider these if they can prove that the individual has been rehabilitated or is in compliance with certain court orders.

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