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Understanding Criminal Background Checks: What You Need to Know

What is a Criminal Background Check and How is it Conducted?

In today's world, a criminal background check is a common requirement for many jobs, housing, and other important matters. It is a tool used to gain insight into a person's past history and criminal activity. A criminal background check can reveal whether a person has any criminal convictions, arrests, or outstanding warrants. Additionally, it can also verify a person's identity, education, and employment history. In this article, we will explore what a criminal background check is and how it is conducted.

Types of Criminal Background Checks

There are several types of criminal background checks available. Some of the most common ones include:

1. County Criminal Record Check: This type of check searches the criminal record databases of the county where the individual has previously lived. This is the most common type of criminal background check used by employers and landlords.

2. State Criminal Record Check: A state criminal record check searches the criminal history databases of a particular state. This type of check is often used when a person has lived in multiple counties within the same state.

3. Federal Criminal Records Check: This check searches the criminal record databases maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

4. National Criminal Database Check: The national criminal database check searches a database that contains criminal records from across the country. This type of check can be useful when a person has lived in multiple states and counties.

How is a Criminal Background Check Conducted?

A criminal background check typically begins with obtaining written permission from the individual being checked. Once permission is granted, the process can begin:

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1. Information Collection: The first step in conducting a criminal background check is to collect information about the individual. This may include the person's name, date of birth, social security number, and any other identifying information.

2. Database Searches: After collecting the necessary information, the next step is to run the checks through various databases. Depending on the type of check ordered, various databases may be used, including state criminal databases, national criminal databases, and federal criminal databases.

3. Court Records Searches: Along with the database searches, a criminal background check may also include a search of court records. This involves physically going to the county courthouses where the individual has previously resided to ensure that there are no criminal records.

4. Employment, Education, and Reference Checks: In addition to the criminal database searches and court records searches, an employer may also require employment, education, and reference checks.

5. Report Generation: After the background check has been completed, a report is generated. The report typically includes any criminal history, employment history, education verification, and reference checks.

Pros and Cons of a Criminal Background Check

The use of criminal background checks has both pros and cons. One of the benefits is that they can help protect employers and landlords from potential lawsuits and promote workplace safety. Further, it can help verify information provided by the applicant, such as their employment and education history.

On the other hand, there are concerns that criminal background checks may be unfair to applicants with criminal records. It is estimated that one-third of Americans have some type of criminal record, which can make it difficult to find a job or housing. Furthermore, criminal background checks may also discourage individuals from seeking medical and mental health treatment, fearing discrimination and negative repercussions.

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In conclusion, a criminal background check is a tool used to gain insight into a person's past history and criminal activity. There are several types of checks available, including county criminal record checks, state criminal record checks, federal criminal records checks, and national criminal database checks. The process typically involves collecting information about the individual, running the checks through various databases, conducting court record searches, employment and education verification, and reference checks. Although there are pros and cons to using criminal background checks, they remain a common requirement for many jobs and housing rental situations.

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