What Shows Up on a Criminal Background Check?

Criminal background checks are a necessary part of identity verification. Our article helps you understand what appears on these checks.

Criminal background checks look specifically at an individual’s criminal history to evaluate whether or not they are eligible for certain jobs or work. These types of background checks are incredibly important in all fields, but they can be confusing to the individuals having their background reviewed. 

This article will help you understand what shows up on a criminal background check, so you can be informed of what potential employers or other individuals may see when they pull your report.

Why Are Criminal Background Checks Important?

As we mentioned above, criminal background checks evaluate your criminal history for red flags such as convictions, felonies, and other criminal misdemeanors. They differ from other types of background checks, including employment and education checks, credit history checks, and professional licensing or personal referencing checks.

Depending on the type of criminal background check being performed, driving history, sexual offender registration status, or civil court history may be evaluated in addition to the main criminal background check. In addition, the employer or individual asking for your criminal background check report may also request a drug test.

Criminal background checks are important because they help employers or other individuals verify someone’s identity, decide whether or not they are suitable for a specific position or job function, and check if they can contribute to a safe workplace environment. 

Employers often perform these checks to ensure they are covered in the case of workplace incidents or lawsuits; they may also perform background checks to ensure employees match company ideals.

Who Might Perform a Criminal Background Check?

Most cases of criminal background checks are performed as pre-employment checks. However, they are sometimes used to evaluate eligibility for a promotion to a different position in the same company. Sometimes, background checks are performed every set number of years for individuals working in specific positions. 

Additionally, criminal background checks are sometimes required when applying for a job overseas or for certain types of travel visas. Some landlords or rental agencies might also request a criminal background check report alongside your application, though this depends on the laws in your city or state.

Individuals can perform criminal background checks on those they are hiring around their homes, potential partners, or those that come into contact with their children and other family members by utilizing an online tool like the one on Information.com. This easy criminal record checker uses the name and location of the individual in question to compile a report of arrests, police records, and court records all from publicly accessible records. You can review this report to determine if an individual is safe enough to interact with.

It’s important to note that a background check cannot be performed on you without your prior written consent. However, refusing to submit a background check can mean potential employers or landlords may deny your application.

The Information That Appears on a Criminal Background Check

The type of information that appears on a criminal background check is what you might expect to see:

  • Details on previous convictions
  • Misdemeanors
  • Arrests
  • Felonies
  • Details about criminal offenses, such as verdicts, sentencing, location of the offenses, and court-related filings 

These details may also include dispositions about certain criminal convictions, which is information about the settlement of a case.

While driving records tend to be a separate background check report, if you’ve committed any driving-related infractions that resulted in a serious conviction (such as jail time for repeated DUIs), these will be shown on your criminal background check reports.

It’s important to note that any criminal records that have been formally expunged or sealed will not be accessible on your criminal background check report. Expungement means that these convictions are wiped from your record completely and will not be included in background checks, nor will you be required to report them if asked about prior criminal convictions. You can read more about the expungement process here.

Warrants in process usually won’t appear on your criminal background check report, and some states exclude certain types of misdemeanors and arrest records that did not result in a conviction. Whether or not your locality will include these items depends on specific reporting and disclosure laws and laws regarding fair hiring practices. You can review your state’s laws regarding the use of criminal records in hiring practices.

Be Prepared With Your Background Information

Submitting a background check can be overwhelming, but it helps to understand what potential employers or other individuals may see when they review your background check report. If you know that certain criminal convictions will show up on your background check, you can discuss these with your potential employer ahead of time. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to your background information. 

Also, remember that even if you have criminal convictions on your background report, you may still be eligible for certain jobs and protections according to fair hiring laws in your state or at the federal level. Stay informed of these regulations to ensure the hiring and background check process goes as smoothly as possible.