Criminal Background Checks
A criminal background check will reveal any criminal offenses a person may have, such as misdemeanors, felonies, convictions, pending arrest warrants, arrest record, and specific crimes, such as theft, acts of violence, and sexual offenses. An investigation into someone’s criminal history is conducted for several reasons. The following are some of the most common situations in which a criminal background check is performed:
- Pre-employment screening. Knowing a person’s criminal history is vital to the protection of a company, its property, and its other employees.
- Traffic stop. When a police officer pulls someone over, they check their criminal history to know what kind of person they are dealing with, and to see if they have any previous offenses or outstanding warrants.
- Hiring a personal nanny or maid. People who are planning to bring someone into their home, whether they are going to be supervised or not, will often check to see if the individual has any criminal charges against them.
- Entering into a relationship. It’s becoming more and more common for individuals to check someone’s criminal record before they invest too much into a relationship with them, or, in the case of Internet dating, before they agree to physically meet the person.
- Getting a new neighbor. People, particularly those with children, want to know whether or not the person that just moved into the neighborhood has a criminal past.or if they are a registered sex offender.
- Considering a financial deal. Before agreeing to a financial deal with an individual or company, a criminal background check is often conducted to make sure the person is not making a deal with a criminal.
Of these situations, a criminal background check is most commonly used in a pre-employment screening. Employers need to know if the person they are considering for a job has a criminal past, and if so, what kind of offenses they have been charged with.
“If an employer is only going to check one thing, it should be the criminal records of the person applying for the job” Jason Morris, president of EmployeeScreenIQ, said. “This is the most important information that you are going to gather in a background check.”
Depending on the position being applied for and the employer, laws may prohibit people with certain criminal offenses from being offered the job. For example, a registered sex offender cannot be hired for a position working with children. Also, a convicted felon charged with robbery cannot work at a bank.
Criminal records can be found in county, state, and federal databases. Although criminal reports are public and can be accessed by anyone, each state has its own set of laws regarding the use of an individual’s criminal history when considering them for employment. So, before you make your decision based on a person’s criminal record, check with your state to make sure you are not in violation of any laws.
Another common situation in which a person’s criminal record is checked is when they get pulled over by a police officer. Depending on what the officer finds, your penalty may be more severe than what you were initially pulled over for, such as facing jail time or having to pay higher fines or bond fees.
“One of the main reasons a police officer asks for your driver license during a traffic stop is to check your criminal record for any pending arrest warrants, and if you have any, you will be arrested,” Kese Smith, a spokesperson with the Houston Police Department, said.
Consequences of a Criminal Record
Offenses found on your criminal record can affect more than just your employment status or having to face stiffer punishment for a crime. The following are a few other things that you may have difficulty with, depending on your record:
- Licenses and permits. Depending on the type and severity of the infraction, certain professionals may not be legally able to obtain licenses and permits, such as architects, electricians, social workers, attorneys, pharmacists, teachers, real estate brokers, and psychologists.
- Loans. Loan agencies and banks will check your criminal background and deny you or charge you higher interest rates if you have certain infractions on your record.
- Financial aid. Infractions on your criminal record may cause you to be ineligible for financial aid, such student loans and grants.
- Security clearance. Individuals with a criminal past may not be granted access to certain areas or information, depending on their offense(s).
A criminal background check is one of the most common personal checks that is conducted. A criminal history can have a substantial impact in several areas of an individual’s life. However, if you have criminal charges on your record, all hope is not lost. There are ways to deal with these offenses, and even fix your criminal history.