Criminal Background Check: Everything you need to know in 2022
These days, you can never be too sure about the people you bring into your life. Criminal background checks are now necessary to fully understand the kind of person you are dealing with.
As an employer, criminal background checks are especially important when looking into new hires. It helps to mitigate various risks and protect your company’s reputation. It also helps you build a trustworthy team and secure workplace.
Many government institutions, like law enforcement agencies and public schools, use these checks throughout the hiring process. There is no reason why other types of organizations – from small businesses to large-scale enterprises – can’t benefit from an employment screening requirement.
Here are our recommended sites for criminal background checks:
Please note that as an employer you must ensure that you are not violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA mandates how personal information can be used in the hiring process. Only information from an accredited consumer reporting agency can be used for employment screening.
A criminal background check is a comprehensive search of someone’s criminal records, including county, state, federal and international databases. It can help you determine if someone has any criminal history or pending cases.
There are various criminal search services and databases that a provider can sort through. These include:
County Criminal Search
County criminal searches gather information directly from local courts. Some services even speak to court researchers to obtain further information.
State Criminal Search
State criminal searches look for statewide records. This could include anything from felonies to misdemeanor convictions. These types of searches generally comply with all state regulations.
Federal Criminal Search
Federal searches are for more serious charges that may not appear in state courts. These are crimes that cross state lines or violate federal laws. These records can be found in federal court records.
Sex Offender Registry Search
This search helps you determine if the person has ever been convicted of sex-related offenses.
Civil Criminal Search
A civil criminal search combs through both state and federal records to find out if any claims have been brought against someone.
International Criminal Search
An international criminal search looks into criminal activity in different parts of the world.
A criminal background check will reveal information about past crimes for which someone has been charged, tried, or convicted.
As an employer, you should be more concerned about felony and misdemeanor convictions. Convictions bear more weight on a criminal record because they are proof of guilt.
Criminal background checks also reveal previous arrests and pending criminal cases. It will show you if someone has an ongoing criminal case pending a verdict and conviction. You can also find out all the details of the arrest. This benefits employers who may want to use this information in the hiring process.
Overall, there are a few specific details that may show up on a criminal background check. This includes:
- Name and aliases of the person being charged with a crime
- The crime the individual was charged with.
- The type of crime (misdemeanor or felony)
- Arrest details
- Relevant details about the court case (i.e., how the charges were filed, the case number, and the court records)
- The verdict of the case
- The conviction/sentencing details (i.e., jail time, fines, probation, community service, etc.)
- Settlements on the case (if applicable)
Keep in mind that most criminal background checks will not reveal criminal records that have been sealed or expunged. Plus, many states have laws that allow someone to petition the court to have their records expunged or sealed.
A criminal background check typically takes a few minutes to complete. However, a lot of it depends on the search type and the database you are pulling from. For example, the search results will come much faster if you are searching from a national criminal database versus local court records.
A comprehensive criminal background check looks through the county, state, federal, and international databases. These searches can take up to three days to complete.
Federal criminal searches have very quick turnarounds. These searches pertain to any crimes that violate federal law. This includes federal tax evasion, identity theft, embezzlement, interstate trafficking, mail fraud, etc.
Criminal background checks typically go back seven years. However, they can go further depending on state regulations.
Different states have different laws about how long criminal information can appear on a report. Many states prohibit criminal information from appearing on reports after several years.
The severity of a crime also plays a major factor. Felony convictions are considered more serious and many states keep them on someone’s record indefinitely. Other states restrict it to 10 years. Misdemeanor records also vary from state to state.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) does not have any rule restricting how far back criminal background checks can go. As long as the crimes are on the individual’s record, they can appear on background checks.
Many states prohibit employers from making decisions on non-conviction arrests. These are arrests that did not lead to any convictions.
A criminal background check has distinct differences from other types of background checks. A standard background check will include other details besides the person’s criminal history. But, a criminal background check only provides the details of the person’s criminal background.
Regular background checks include lots of information, such as:
- Education history
- Employment history
- Credit history
- Family tree
- Criminal history
- Driving history
- Work history verification
- Professional license verification
On the other hand, criminal background checks only contain information about their criminal past. This often includes information on:
- Arrest history
- Criminal charges
- Civil criminal history
- Driving under influence
- Pending cases
- Sex offender registry
A criminal history record can be a deterrent for working in specific industries. It can also prevent you from accessing certain housing and educational opportunities. Overall, a criminal history does not do well for your reputation in general.
In the best-case scenario, your criminal history will stop appearing on your record around seven years after the incident has occurred. In some states, however, it stays there for ten years or longer, depending on several factors. One of the most important factors being the severity of the crime.
How to Remove a Record of Charges With Expungement
Expungement is the process of petitioning a court to remove your arrest records. This means the court will erase your criminal records from all public records. This typically comes on the condition that you do not violate your probation in any way.
After an expungement, your criminal history will not appear on any criminal record checks. This puts you in a better position to apply for jobs and competitive positions.
However, you will need legal aid from a qualified attorney or lawyer to get your criminal records expunged. It is much easier to erase arrests that led to no convictions or dismissed charges. For example, if an arrest was made, but there are no court records of the case, it is easier to erase.
Convictions, on the other hand, are more challenging. It all depends on the state where the charges were made. You can petition the court for expungement or record sealing. Record sealing means that the public will not have access to your criminal records.
Because of this, many states mandate employers to review applications before checking criminal records. This law is commonly referred to as “Ban the Box.” It helps many candidates secure jobs despite their criminal records.
Removing Criminal Records With Motions to Vacate
Other than record sealing and expungement, you can file a motion to vacate. This is a post-conviction measure you can take to erase your criminal records.
For example, you can file a motion to vacate after a conviction that was based on false accusations. You are also able to do this if someone violates your constitutional rights.
If you meet the criteria for a pardon, you can also get your records erased.
Where to Get Criminal Background Checks
Do you want to check someone’s criminal history record before hiring them? Well, here are some of the best sites you can use to do a criminal background check for employment.
This site helps you find information on someone’s criminal history. If they have a record in any public database, Instant Checkmate will find it.
This site offers different types of criminal background checks. Good Hire has an intuitive platform that helps you find any record using very little information.
BeenVerified also provides an array of criminal records from various databases.
ClearChecks is another background check website that helps you find someone’s criminal record. This site can search through records of multi-jurisdictional courts, as well as state and federal courts. They also have a manual in-person search for hard-to-find criminal court records.
Checkr is a high-tech firm that provides extensive background check services, including criminal history searches. This site is a fast and reliable way to find out about someone’s criminal history.
You can find criminal records faster with these sites versus using criminal justice agencies.
The FCRA For Employment Purposes
Employers who conduct background checks need to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA protects the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information maintained by consumer reporting agencies.
Anytime an employer requests a criminal record check on an applicant or employee, it must come from a provider that abides by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as state and local laws.
Here are some frequently asked questions on criminal background checks.
What does a criminal background check show?
A criminal background check shows the job candidate’s criminal history. This includes felonies, misdemeanors, arrest warrants, lawsuits, DUIs, and traffic arrests.
It also provides you with additional details about the crime, such as:
- The category of the crime
- The date of the offense
- The court they were tried in
- The verdict of the case or charges
- Any settlements or dispositions on the case
Where can I get a criminal background check?
You can get a criminal background check from criminal justice agencies. These agencies will give you accurate information on an individual’s criminal past.
You can also get criminal history records from background check websites. These sites comb through county, state, federal, and international databases to check criminal records. Some of the sites you can use include:
Criminal background checks are beneficial, especially during the hiring process. It is very helpful to know about someone’s criminal past when determining their suitability for a position.
There are many online services, like Good Hire and ClearChecks, that perform criminal background checks. If you are an employer, always remember to check what information the law allows you to use.