What is a Criminal Background Check and Why Do You Them?


While a brush with the law is not necessarily disqualifying for most employment positions, getting surprised by the unknown criminal record of one of your employees is never good. Avoid being the last to know by performing a criminal history record check for each of your potential candidates. 

What is a criminal background check?

A criminal history records check is a legal investigation that searches national, federal, state, and county records to provide information about an individual’s criminal history. Felonies, misdemeanors, and pending criminal cases are flushed out during a criminal history search. These background checks help HR professionals and other managers make decisions about hiring, promoting, and contracting the person’s services. Effective criminal screening protects business assets, mitigates risks, and protects the organization and its members from potential harm. 

What shows up on a criminal background check?

The following information can be part of a criminal records search:

  • Felony and misdemeanor convictions
  • Pending criminal cases
  • Incarceration as an adult
  • Active warrants
  • Infractions within the past 7 years
  • Arrests within the past 7 years that did not lead to conviction
  • Sex offender registry information

State and federal laws govern time limitations and put restrictions on what information can be legally reported on a criminal background check. Work with your search provider to determine the type of search that’s right for your workforce.

How long does a criminal background check take?

Most background checks can be completed within 1 to 3 days and some may take merely a few hours. Searching for county criminal records will slow the process, as many of those records are not digitized and require the help of a county court employee. International searches can take considerably longer, sometimes months due to complex international regulations.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

The collecting, using, storing, and destroying of other people’s personal information is tightly governed by ever-changing laws and regulations. Employment screeners and employers are subject to reporting rules set out by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as discrimination rules set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

If you’re ready to use criminal background checks to improve the quality of your hires, you’re in good company. Employers in all sizes and stripes are protecting their organizations by making criminal background checks part of their standard onboarding policies. Online pre-employment screening providers offer 100% compliant user-friendly portals, intuitive workflows, and a variety of screening packages designed to help busy hiring managers get the information they need to make wise hiring decisions. Protect your organization with criminal background checks. 


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