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Criminal Record Check

What is Involved in a Proper Criminal Background Check?

When applying for a new job, one of the routine steps in most instances is agreeing to a background check. There are a few different types of background checks, however. A standard employment background check is great to verify information the candidate has likely already provided—their identity, education, and employment history, as well as records of marriages, divorces, bankruptcies, and other similar information.

Any background check likely includes a cursory scan for a criminal history, but a full criminal background check is much more thorough. Let’s take a look at what a criminal background check can reveal, what records are searched as a part of it, and under what circumstances a potential employer or other entity might decide to run a criminal background check.

What is a criminal background check?

A criminal background check specifically scans databases containing criminal records. Any arrests, convictions, or prison sentences will be revealed by a criminal background check, as well as any known aliases a person may have. This information comes from court and police records, and will likely show any existing warrants as well. Particularly thorough background checks could even show international records, in case the job candidate has a record in a country other than the one where they are currently applying.

How much information can be revealed in a criminal background check varies from state to state. For example, in some states, only convictions will appear, and not arrests. The statute of limitations can also vary, and in some states convictions more than 10 years old may not appear on a record anymore. If a record has been expunged or sealed, this likely will not show up on any background check.

What records are searched as part of a criminal background check?

A typical criminal background check scans county criminal court records, national crime databases, sex offender registries, domestic and global terrorist watch lists, and federal and state criminal records. There are different levels to criminal background checks. A level one check, for example, is simply a state record only name-based check, whereas a level two check scans state and federal records and is fingerprint-based.

When do potential employers run a criminal background check?

It is estimated that over 80 percent of employers run criminal background checks, all in hopes that an individual’s past will provide a correct indication of their future job performance, as well as indicating whether a job candidate could pose a threat to customers or co-workers, creating a potentially unsafe work environment.

For example, a company will not want to hire someone with a history of theft, fraud, or embezzlement for a high-level position involving working with large sums of money. Any job involving working with children, the elderly, or at-risk populations will also likely require a full criminal background check, as certain past convictions can disqualify a candidate.

If a person has been formerly incarcerated, this is often a difficult obstacle when trying to enter the workforce. Certain professions are off-limits to convicted felons entirely due to safety concerns. There are, however, certain government programs that offer employers incentives for hiring convicted felons for positions where they are not deemed to be a threat, or where they have minimal contact with customers or the public. One such program is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program, which was designed to help rehabilitate convicted felons and help them re-enter mainstream society after incarceration.

Criminal Background Check

While most criminal background checks are run by prospective employers, there are also other situations where you may be asked to consent to one. Examples include purchasing a firearm, adopting a child, or enlisting in the military.

There is, of course, a cost associated with running any background check, and a full criminal one is typically more expensive than your run-of-the-mill standard background check. At Affordable Background Checks, we are here to provide this service to prospective employers so they can help their company thrive in a safe and productive manner. When you’re hiring for an important position in your company, use background checks to make sure that those you’re bringing into the business are trustworthy. The money spent on the background check will pay for itself in the peace of mind you enjoy knowing your employees are exactly who they claim.

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Gavin Muirhead

Gavin Muirhead has been involved in developing products for background checks and improving online experiences in the background screening industry since 2012. He is the lead author and editor of Affordable Background Checks.