How They Check Criminal Records

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Americans have become increasingly security conscious since 9/11. It is now common for someone who is seeking a job to find that a company checks criminal records as part of its hiring process. Some companies are even conducting background checks on long-time employees. This situation has resulted in some people finding that youthful indiscretions are now causing them a problem. Additionally, professional licensing boards in most states are required by law to do criminal record checks to make sure applicants have not been convicted of occupation-related crimes. Many people these days are finding that past offenses are becoming barriers to employment, or even causing them to lose their present jobs.

As part of the Government’s identity theft solutions a company must always obtain a prospective employee’s written consent before it can run a check and get criminal record information. Read your application carefully. Often the wording for obtaining consent for a criminal record check is written into the job application, though some companies use a separate consent form. Many states have laws limiting how far back they can check for convictions, or limiting the types of convictions they take into account for business or job-related offenses. Even if your record has been expunged, these types of offenses may still come up in a criminal records search. You may want to check with a lawyer to find out how far into the past an employer can look for arrests or convictions.

A state board checks criminal records for license applicants in many occupations. If you are applying for a license as a teacher, health care worker, childcare worker or elder care worker, then you may be subject to a criminal record check. The licensing agency may limit the background check to occupation-related offenses. Having a larceny conviction should not be a problem for someone applying for a license for massage therapy, yet a conviction of prostitution or a sex offense would. If you are trying to obtain a license to work with vulnerable persons, such as children, the sick or the elderly, then criminal record checks can create special problems.

Whether it is a company checking the background of a prospective employee, or a state licensing board that checks criminal records, a past offense can create problems in obtaining work. If the offense was in the distant past, a clean criminal record in the intervening years can work in your favor. Having your record expunged can also help in gaining employment or a professional license. In either case, if you have had a brush with the law, then you should see a lawyer to find out how your past offenses will affect your being able to find employment.

Creative Commons License photo credit: c h e e s e roc

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