Criminal Charges on a Background Check
Criminal records and background checks can be very complicated subjects, to find out more about how criminal charges on a background check affect your privacy, please visit: criminal record or criminal background checks.
If your case was dismissed or you were given a diversion program and your criminal charges still showed up on a background check, visit here.
After someone has been arrested, what follows most often are criminal charges that are filed in the local courthouse where the offense occurred. From a privacy standpoint, the landscape changes significantly once charges are filed. The reason for this is that court filings are considered one of the most public of public records. Therefore, like bankruptcy and civil lawsuits, criminal charges can be searched and inspected by the public at large. That’s not to say that a criminal record can be reported to anyone who asks. For reasons below, privacy laws become relevant when someone is looking for a job or going through other significant applications.
For many people, however, even after criminal charges have been filed, a conviction does not necessarily follow. The reason for this is because many prosecutors and defense attorneys negotiate favorable terms for defendants that avoid having to plea guilty. Some programs known as “diversion” programs require defendants to attend educational programs that when successfully completed result in dismissed charges.
So what does someone do when their charges have been dismissed and they begin to worry about criminal charges on a background check showing up? Read below to find out.
Why Would Criminal Charges be on a Background Check?
As mentioned above, criminal charges are events that create a criminal record. The record is held in the courthouse where the charges were filed and the remaining life of the case is also a part of that record.
Similar to arrests, potential employers want to know whether someone has ever been charged with a crime for purposes of negligent hiring and other issues of liability. Specific professions require certain levels of responsibility that a company cannot afford to give to anyone who applies. Professions that require the use of heavy machinery, driving, medical equipment, dangerous substances, access to money, contact with children/elderly, and virtually sort of job carries potential risks of harm or financial cost.
For employment screening companies, finding criminal charges on a background check is considered valuable information that the business wants to know about. Being a public record, the kind of criminal charges will tell the employer a lot about whether or not someone has put him or herself at too much risk and could create a liability. But the background check company must first find the criminal record before they can report the charges. Privacy comes into play on many levels depending on the circumstances.
What Can Be Done About Criminal Charges on a Background Check?
For someone who was charged with a crime but avoided conviction, there is hope in avoiding criminal charges on a background check.
Background check companies do not have access to an unlimited database of all criminal filings in every single courthouse. Many courthouses (over 8,300 in the US) have their own filing procedures and access to their records is harder than others. When people talk about a “national criminal database”, this is limited to law enforcement agencies and not private companies or background check firms. What’s left is a complex series of data warehouses that extract, compile, sell, and resell vast stores of criminal information to one another.
Because of this complexity, it makes it difficult for any one individual to predict where, how, or when it will be revealed that they have criminal charges on a background check.
But by taking control of one’s personal record and being proactive, there are ways of preventing disclosure of your criminal charges on a background check.
Privacy Laws for Criminal Charges on a Background Check
Criminal charges that did not lead to a conviction cannot be reported all of the time and by anyone who wishes to find out. Even though criminal charges filed in a public courthouse fall under public records, they are not without prohibited use. A background check that reports criminal charges when they were not supposed to could be violating someone’s privacy rights.
Fortunately, many companies who conduct background checks are aware of these limitations and work hard to prevent privacy violations. However, some companies do not have the resources to implement compliance procedures and often cause people who lose valuable employment opportunities from a unnecessary disclosure of their criminal information.
To determine whether or not a person’s criminal charges should show on a background check, a thorough evaluation is needed by someone experienced in the field of criminal records. Multiple state laws and federal regulations overlap with one another that can make it very confusing.