A criminal background check is the process of gathering information about an individual in order to determine whether or not they are eligible for a specific job. This type of background check is commonly conducted by employers, but also by law enforcement and other organizations that require a person’s past history before hiring them. While the idea of doing a criminal background check may seem like an invasion of privacy, it can actually help keep you safe.
In this article we will discuss the various types of criminal records that are looked upon in a criminal background investigation, how to access criminal records online and what a criminal background check looks like if you’re trying to get hired by a company that conducts one.
What Does a Criminal Background Check Look Like?
While a criminal background check doesn’t necessarily mean someone has a record of criminal activity, it does indicate that there is at least some form of a police report filed against the individual. It can be used to find out things such as whether or not a person has been arrested, convicted or charged with any crime. This information might include details about when the arrest took place, where it occurred, who was involved and what kind of charge(s) were levied against the individual.
It is important to note that not all states require a police report to be filed in order to obtain a criminal background check. In fact, only six states (Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia) make that requirement mandatory. However, most states do require a person to provide the name of the agency that performed the background check, along with the date and location of the investigation. This way, the agency conducting the check can verify the accuracy of the results.
Types of Records Collected During A Criminal Background Check
There are several different types of records that are collected during a criminal background check. These include:
Previous Arrest History
This includes anything from traffic violations to sex offenses and everything in between. Some agencies will request that you turn over these documents yourself while others will just provide the information on their own. Either way, you should always double-check with the agency itself before providing sensitive information.
This includes anything from minor infractions to serious crimes. Again, you should always try to confirm this information directly with the agency conducting the check. If you don’t get a straight answer, then it probably isn’t worth your time to pursue the matter further.
Previous Employment History
This includes everything from employment records to military service. You should always talk to the agency conducting the background check before turning over any personal information. They often have the right to refuse to release certain documents and sometimes even ask you to take down the information entirely.
Again, it is best to confirm this information directly with the agency conducting the background check. Many companies will conduct drug tests as part of the hiring process. As long as you pass these tests, you shouldn’t need to worry too much about them.
Other Types of Recordings
It is possible that an agency conducting your background check may look into records related to mental health, medical conditions, family relationships and more. This information will generally come up as part of the background check, so you should never feel obligated to share it unless asked to.
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Where To Get Information About Your Past
Once you know what records the agency conducting your background check wants to see, you can start looking them up. There are many places you can go to find out about your past. Here are some of the most common sources:
National Criminal Database (NCD)
The National Criminal Database is run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and contains data regarding individuals found guilty of felonies, misdemeanors and lesser charges. The database is accessible by law enforcement agencies across the country and provides access to mug shots, fingerprints, DNA profiles, home addresses and other information.
National Sex Offender Registry
This website is run by the U.S. Department of Justice and is available to anyone interested in learning more about convicted sex offenders. The site lists each state’s requirements for registering sex offenders and allows citizens to search for registered sex offenders within close proximity of their residence.
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
Your local DMV office will usually have a copy of your driving history on file. This information includes any arrests made while operating a vehicle, convictions and court appearances. You may want to bring this document with you when visiting the offices of the agency running your background check.
Military Service History
Many veterans claim that they cannot apply for jobs without first having a criminal background check done. They might be afraid that employers will discriminate against them because they served our country, but the truth is that most employers won’t care about what branch of the military you belonged to.
If you are currently serving in the armed forces, you should contact the agency that is conducting your background check and let them know. They will usually give you special permission to submit your military records.
It’s Important To Keep Track Of Your Records
Even though it might be tempting to put off getting a criminal background check until after you’ve already started applying for new positions, it is best to get one sooner rather than later. When you do decide to perform a check, make sure that you keep track of the results. Doing this will allow you to avoid being surprised when you receive your credit report and discover that you’ve been denied a position due to something you didn’t expect.
Keep in mind that many people end up having to pay back fines or penalties associated with previous criminal activity. This can cause you to lose your driver’s license, which could prevent you from obtaining a job. That said, it is better to take care of these issues now rather than waiting to receive a letter in the mail.
In addition, it is a good idea to perform a criminal background check on yourself before applying for a job. By doing this, you’ll be able to make sure that you don’t accidentally reveal something embarrassing or illegal that you would prefer to keep under wraps.
Finally, it is smart to keep copies of your record reports with you at all times. Having these documents on hand will make it easier to prove your innocence if you ever do have to hire an attorney.