Types of Criminal Background Checks Available for Pre-Employment

March 22, 2017

Understanding the various types of criminal background checks currently available will help your organization in the pre-employment screening process. A thorough background check helps prevent your organization from hiring someone who poses a risk to workplace safety. Recognizing the current background checks available to you also prevents limiting the amount of criminal history information you need to accurately screen applicants. Here are some of the sources available to you for pre-employment screening. 

County-Level Background Checks

When you request a county-level background check on an applicant, the check will examine local jurisdictions where an applicant resides. The investigation includes any county criminal history records over the past seven years. However, you can request searches that date back 10 to 15 years or more. Compliant county-level checks include any misdemeanor or felony arrests and should filter out the records not reportable under federal and state law. Criminal record searches at the county level should inspect records at the county’s courthouse or through repositories with a direct relationship with the state. 

Statewide Background Checks

A statewide background check searches repositories for records on any misdemeanor or felony arrests on your applicants. However, some states do not allow the distribution of both misdemeanor and felony records. In this instance, you may want to request all of your background checks at the county level. Although state background checks are critical to some of your pre-employment screening, it may not provide enough information to accurately screen a potential employee. 

Federal Background Checks

A federal background check investigates whether or not an applicant faced criminal prosecution or convictions at the federal level. Federal crimes include fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion or mail and wire fraud. If your organization deals with finance or any field related to money, a federal background check is a smart choice. Most agencies conduct their federal checks at the district level where the U.S. government prosecutes cases. 

Sex Offender Registry Search

Several websites offer sex offender registry searches to help you determine if an applicant is a registered sex offender. In 1996, the federal government passed a law requiring the attorney general to institute a national database designed to track the movements and whereabouts of sexual offenders. The FBI currently manages the National Sex Offender’s Registry, known as the NSOR. The NSOR maintains any information regarding a registered sex offender’s crimes, current address, date of conviction and date when an offender registered as a sex offender. 

Civil Courts

You can request a review of an applicant’s involvement in any civil cases, which include breach of contract, product liability, any frivolous lawsuits filed by the applicant and other civil records. By determining if an applicant has a history of filing frivolous lawsuits, you can protect your organization from many legal actions by removing applicants with a history of civil actions in their background information. 

Other types of pre-employment background checks include obtaining an applicant’s driving record, federal bankruptcy records, international background screenings or a prohibited and restricted parties search. The selection of background checks will help you hire the best talent and avoid unknowingly exposing your organization to risk. 

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