Criminal Background Check FAQs Answered

Noel Diem |

Are you considering hiring a new employee? For workplace safety, having all the necessary information about someone before making important decisions is essential. That’s where criminal background checks come into play. By conducting these checks, you can gain valuable insights into an individual’s past and make informed choices.

Are you considering hiring a new employee? For workplace safety, having all the necessary information about someone before making important decisions is essential. That’s where criminal background checks come into play. By conducting these checks, you can gain valuable insights into an individual’s past and make informed choices.

What is a Criminal Background Check?

A criminal background check comprehensively examines an individual’s past criminal history. It involves searching various databases and records to uncover any convictions, arrests, or other relevant information about their involvement in illegal activities. This process helps employers, landlords, and individuals make informed decisions about potential hires or tenants. Often, businesses will use background screening software.

Criminal background checks are essential for several reasons. They help ensure the safety and security of workplaces and communities by identifying individuals with a history of violent behavior or crimes that may pose a risk. These checks can help protect businesses from liability by preventing negligent hiring claims if an employee commits a crime while on the job.

Conducting a criminal background check typically involves accessing public records from multiple sources such as county courts, state repositories, sex offender registries, and federal court databases. These sources provide valuable information about an individual’s criminal record at local, state, and national levels.

During a criminal background check, information such as felony convictions, misdemeanor charges, notable infractions, arrest records, sex offender registry status, outstanding warrants, and more may be included. The specific details provided will depend on the depth and scope of the search conducted.

Why are Criminal Background Checks Important?

Criminal background checks play a crucial role throughout the hiring process. For any HR leader, conducting a criminal background check can provide valuable information that helps make informed decisions.

For employers, conducting criminal background checks is vital for maintaining the safety and security of their workplace. By screening job applicants’ criminal histories, employers can identify any red flags that might indicate potential risks to other employees or company assets. This not only minimizes the chances of hiring individuals with violent tendencies but also helps protect the organization from legal liabilities.

Moreover, criminal record checks are invaluable for industries working closely with vulnerable populations such as children or the sick. Schools, healthcare facilities, and childcare providers heavily rely on these screenings to guarantee the well-being and protection of those under their care.

In addition to safeguarding workplaces and communities, criminal background checks also promote trust among consumers. Companies prioritizing customer safety by conducting thorough screenings demonstrate their commitment to providing reliable products and services.

It’s clear that criminal background checks serve as an indispensable tool in ensuring personal safety and making informed decisions when it comes to employment opportunities. With rising concerns about security breaches and increasing crime rates in some areas, these screenings help establish a sense of trust while minimizing potential risks for all parties involved.

background screening

How Do Criminal Background Checks Work?

Criminal background checks are a crucial part of the hiring process for many employers. But how do they work? Let’s break it down.

First, when an employer decides to conduct a criminal background check, they typically start by gathering information about the candidate. This can include their name, date of birth, and social security number. With this information, the employer can search various sources for records related to the individual’s criminal history.

One common source often used is county court records. These records detail any criminal cases filed against someone within a specific jurisdiction. Employers may also use state-level or national databases that compile information from multiple sources.

Once these databases have been searched and potential matches are found, professional background check companies will often verify these matches with direct inquiries to courthouses or law enforcement agencies. This helps ensure accuracy and provides more detailed information about each case.

It’s important to note that not all criminal convictions will necessarily appear on a background screening. Certain types of offenses may be excluded due to legal restrictions or privacy laws.

In addition to searching for past convictions, some employers may also choose to include other elements in their background checks, such as employment history verification or education verification.

What Information is Included in a Criminal Background Check?

A criminal background check typically includes details about an individual’s past criminal records and any involvement with law enforcement agencies.

The report often includes arrests, convictions, warrants, and court records. It may also provide details on felonies or misdemeanors committed by the person being screened. Additionally, the background check might include information about sex offender registry status or any history of restraining orders.

In some cases, a criminal background check can also reveal additional personal details like aliases, previous addresses, and social media presence. This comprehensive approach helps employers or organizations make informed decisions when it comes to hiring employees or allowing individuals access to certain privileges.

It’s important to note that the exact information included in a criminal background check can vary depending on factors such as jurisdiction and the level of thoroughness requested by the requester. Therefore, both employers and individuals must understand what specific information they are looking for when requesting a background check or looking into a criminal history record.

How Long Does a Criminal Background Check Take?

How long does a criminal background check take? This is a common question many HR leaders have when making a hire quickly. The answer to this question can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of background check being conducted and the resources available to complete it.

Generally, a typical criminal background check can take one to three business days to complete. (It is important to note that a criminal background check is only part of the background check process.) However, it’s important to note that this is just an estimate and actual turnaround times may vary. Some checks may be completed in as little as a few hours, while others may take longer if additional records or information need to be reviewed. AssureHire has a feature built into it that actually estimates turnaround time based on recent data. 

The length of time also depends on where the information for the background check is being sourced from. For example, if the check involves searching multiple databases or jurisdictions, it could potentially take longer than if it only requires checking one source.

Additionally, certain factors can impact how long results take to be returned. For instance, if there are discrepancies or incomplete information in someone’s record that needs further investigation or clarification, it could prolong the process.

Are Criminal Background Checks Accurate?

When it comes to criminal background checks, accuracy is an essential factor. Employers and organizations rely on these checks to make informed decisions about potential employees or tenants. But just how accurate are these background checks?

Criminal background checks typically obtain information from various sources such as court records, law enforcement agencies, and other databases. However, no system is perfect, and errors can occur during the collection or reporting process.

One common issue that can affect accuracy is incomplete or outdated information in the databases used for these checks. If a record hasn’t been updated with recent convictions or dismissals, it may not provide an accurate picture of someone’s criminal history.

Another challenge lies in name matching. A person with a common name may be mistaken for someone with a similar name with a criminal record. This can lead to false positives and potentially harm innocent individuals.

Moreover, some jurisdictions have restrictions on what information can be released in a background check. For example, certain states limit the disclosure of arrests that did not result in convictions. This limitation could impact the completeness of the report.

To enhance accuracy and reduce errors, many reputable background check companies employ multiple layers of verification during their screening process. They cross-reference data from different sources to ensure consistency and verify any discrepancies found.

It’s important to note that while criminal background checks strive for accuracy, they are still subject to limitations and human error at times. It’s always advisable for employers or organizations relying on these reports to conduct additional due diligence when needed.

background screening

What are the Legal Regulations for Criminal Background Checks?

Legal regulations for criminal background checks vary depending on the country and jurisdiction. In the United States, federal laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) govern how employers can conduct and use background checks. The FCRA ensures that individuals have certain rights regarding their information being used in a background check.

In addition to federal regulations, many states have their own laws regarding criminal background checks. These laws may restrict what information can be included in a background check, how far back the check can go, and how the check results can be used.

Both employers and individuals need to familiarize themselves with these legal regulations to ensure compliance and protect their rights. Employers must follow proper procedures when conducting background checks to avoid potential lawsuits or accusations of discrimination. Individuals should understand their rights under the law to know what information can legally be obtained about them and how it might impact their employment prospects.

While criminal background checks serve an important purpose in protecting businesses and society at large, they must be conducted ethically, accurately, and within legal boundaries. By understanding the process of criminal background checks and your rights within this context, you will be better equipped to navigate any situations involving these types of screening processes.

What Shows Up on a County Criminal Background Check?

A county criminal background check usually includes information on an individual’s criminal history within a specific county. The exact details that show up can vary slightly depending on the jurisdiction, but generally, it includes:

  1. Arrest records: Information about any arrests made by law enforcement agencies within the county. This includes details such as the date of arrest, charges filed, and arresting agency.
  2. Court records: Documentation related to criminal proceedings in the county, including any charges, convictions, dismissals, or acquittals. This may include information on misdemeanors, felonies, or other criminal offenses.
  3. Warrants: Any active warrants issued by the county, indicating that the individual is wanted for a particular offense.
  4. Convictions: Details of any convictions for crimes committed within the county, along with associated sentencing information. This could include fines, probation, incarceration periods, or rehabilitation programs.
  5. Incarceration records: Information regarding any periods of incarceration or time served within correctional facilities located in the county.

It’s important to note that county criminal background checks typically focus on local offenses and may not provide a complete picture of an individual’s criminal history beyond that specific jurisdiction. To obtain a broader view, additional checks at state or federal levels may be necessary.

Can I Run a Criminal Background Check on Someone Without Their Consent?

Running a criminal background check on someone without their consent can be subject to legal and ethical considerations. The laws regarding accessing someone’s personal information, including criminal records, vary depending on your jurisdiction. In many cases, running a background check without the individual’s consent may be restricted or prohibited unless you have legitimate reasons such as employment screening, tenant evaluation, or other specific circumstances where legally permissible.

It’s important to respect privacy rights and adhere to applicable laws when conducting background checks. Generally, it is recommended to obtain consent from the person you intend to run a background check on or ensure that you have a lawful basis for doing so, such as being an employer or having a legal requirement to perform the check.

If you have a valid reason to run a background check, it’s advisable to consult with legal professionals or familiarize yourself with local laws to understand the proper procedures and requirements to follow.

Are Criminal Background Checks Nationwide or State-Specific?

Criminal background checks can be both nationwide and state-specific, depending on the scope and purpose of the check. Generally, there are two levels of criminal background checks:

  1. State-level checks: These checks focus on an individual’s criminal history within a specific state. They typically involve searching records maintained by state law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional facilities. State-level checks are often performed for employment, licensing, and other local purposes.
  2. Nationwide checks: These checks go beyond a single state and provide a broader view of an individual’s criminal history. They may include records from multiple states, federal agencies, and sources like the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. Nationwide checks are usually conducted for more comprehensive screenings, such as national security clearances or highly sensitive positions.

It’s important to note that while nationwide criminal background checks aim to cover a wider range of jurisdictions, they may not capture every single offense or conviction. The completeness and accuracy of these checks depend on the availability and accessibility of records across various jurisdictions.

The specific type of background check performed will depend on the purpose, legal requirements, and resources available to the entity or individual conducting the check.

What is the EEOC?

The EEOC stands for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is a federal agency in the United States responsible for enforcing laws that prohibit workplace discrimination based on factors such as race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, and genetic information. The EEOC‘s mission is to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities in employment without facing discrimination.

The EEOC investigates claims of discrimination filed by employees against employers. It also guides employers and employees regarding their rights and obligations under anti-discrimination laws. The commission works to prevent discrimination through outreach programs, education initiatives, and the development of policies and guidelines.

The EEOC enforces several federal laws that protect against workplace discrimination, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

If someone believes they have experienced workplace discrimination, the EEOC provides a process for filing a charge of discrimination. The agency conducts investigations and may take legal action against employers found to violate anti-discrimination laws.

Overall, the EEOC plays a crucial role in promoting equal opportunity, fairness, and inclusivity in the workplace.

Ready for Better Background Screening?

If you use background screening in your hiring process and have found hiring decisions stalled because of poor background check services, it’s important to find a partner who can help with not only a comprehensive criminal history background check and criminal record search, but that can go even further. Mitratech’s AssureHire is a complete background screening solution, focused on promoting safety, transparency, and efficiency in the workplace.

Use our software to go beyond a criminal records search. With 98% of our screenings completed within 72 hours, use AssureHire to screen for motor vehicle records, drugs, identity theft, watchlists, misdemeanor convictions, and more that may impact their role at your organization. For so many jobs, including those in healthcare and childcare, criminal activity isn’t the only thing you need to include in background screening.

To get the industry’s leading pre-employment background check software, schedule a demo of AssureHire today.

Our focus? On your success.

Schedule a demo, or learn more about Mitratech’s products, services, and commitment.