With increasingly strict regulations and growing concerns of safety and security, criminal background checks have become a common requirement in many industries. These background checks are designed to provide an insight into an individual's criminal history, helping employers and organizations make more informed decisions when it comes to hiring, leasing or providing services to individuals.
So, what is a criminal background check, and how is it conducted? In this article, we'll take a closer look at the process of conducting a criminal background check and the typical criminal records included in the check.
What is a Criminal Background Check?
A criminal background check is a process where a person's criminal history is reviewed. The review is conducted by a professional-background check provider, law enforcement agency, or hiring organization. The aim is to verify whether an individual has any criminal convictions or outstanding warrants.
Typically, criminal background checks are used by employers as a means of screening job candidates or potential volunteers. The information revealed in a criminal background check can help an employer decide whether an individual is suitable for a job, especially if the role involves handling sensitive information, working with vulnerable populations, or in positions of high trust.
Criminal background checks can also be required when renting an apartment or home, or when requesting a professional license. Landlords and property managers need to ensure that the tenant is trustworthy before they sign a lease, while professional licensing boards and regulatory entities must guarantee safety and proper conduct in their industry.
The Process of Conducting a Criminal Background Check
Generally, a criminal background check involves three steps: searching criminal records, verifying the information found and confirming the information with the individual. Here is a breakdown of the three steps:
1. Searching Criminal Records
The first step is to search criminal records to make sure the individual doesn't carry a criminal history. It would typically involve searching state, local, and national databases for criminal records.
Criminal records are maintained on a state level, and the state courts are the primary source of records. However, some records may not be available at the state level so the search would need to be expanded to include counties or cities where the individual has lived or worked.
Additionally, some background check companies may also conduct a federal criminal records search, as there is an open records database maintained by the FBI.
2. Verifying the Information Found
The second step is to verify the information found in the criminal records search. This step ensures that the records belong to the individual and that any details provided are accurate.
This step involves reviewing identifying information, such as the individual's name, date of birth or Social Security number, to confirm that the right person is being checked. It may also include looking at the court records, available police reports, and other relevant documents.
3. Confirming the Information with the Individual
The last step is to give the individual an opportunity to confirm the accuracy of the information found. This is also to ensure that the individual is aware of the findings, and he or she has a chance to dispute any incorrect or inaccurate information provided in the report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires employers providing background checks to comply with this step.
What Criminal Records are Typically Included in a Criminal Background Check?
As previously mentioned, criminal background checks vary depending on the industry and the organization's requirement for the check. However, there are common criminal records that are typically included in a criminal background check, which includes the following:
1. Misdemeanors and Felony Convictions
Criminal background checks typically include information on an individual's criminal convictions. The report would display both misdemeanor and felony convictions from state or federal courts where the individual has charges.
2. Arrests Records
Arrest records may be included in criminal background checks, even if the individual was not convicted. This information can be relevant to certain employers to determine the likelihood of misconduct, employee dishonesty, or workplace safety hazards.
3. Warrants and Wanted Person Information
The report can also include information on active warrants and wanted persons. This helps organizations check whether an individual has an outstanding warrant, showing that they may be considered a risk.
At the end of the day, criminal background checks provide an additional level of safety and trust for employers, organizations, and anyone looking to interact with an individual. It ensures that they are not working, leasing or providing services to anyone with a history of criminal misconduct. Ultimately, criminal background checks help prevent criminal activities and minimize the risk of harm to individuals, customers, and communities.