Criminal Background Checks – How Accurate Are They?

Criminal background checks can be a valuable tool for ensuring you hire the right person for your company. They can reduce the risk of workplace violence, improve the quality of your employees, and reduce costs incurred by employee theft or negligent hiring lawsuits.

A criminal background check typically consists of several types of searches that gather information from different criminal sources. These include a Multi-Jurisdictional “national” Criminal Database search, as well as county and federal criminal records searches.

These criminal history checks can uncover records of arrests, civil suites, sex offender registry, convictions, court actions and many other types of information that could negatively impact the safety of your business or staff. In addition, it may reveal any other relevant information that can help you make a more informed hiring decision.

The accuracy of these criminal background checks depends on the type and source of the information you’re looking for, as well as how the criminal justice system in the jurisdictions in which you conduct your searches works. Fortunately, CRAs that are familiar with the nuances of various local systems can greatly speed up your criminal history searches.

Name-Based Checks

The most basic type of criminal background check is a name-based search that looks up a candidate’s name against police and court records from the jurisdiction where they live. This will uncover details of felony and misdemeanor convictions, as well as legal infractions that do not fall under a crime classification in that jurisdiction.

Some employers choose to run name-based criminal background checks north stream as part of a multi-component screening process, which can also include a driver’s license verification and credit report analysis. However, the accuracy of these type of checks varies widely, and they can be time-consuming to clear up if any mistakes are found.

This type of background check can trigger false positives and negatives if two individuals share a common name, or if a criminal has adopted a new alias. Because of this, it is recommended that you run a fingerprint-based criminal history check instead of a name-based check when possible.

Spent Convictions

Certain states allow convicted individuals to petition the court to have their records expunged or sealed, which means they will no longer appear on a criminal background check. However, it is still important to make sure that any convictions that show up on a criminal background check have been expunged or sealed.

A conviction that has been expunged or sealed should not show up on a criminal background check, as it is considered non-public information under the FCRA.

Employers are protected from discrimination and negligent hiring if an applicant’s conviction was expunged or sealed, but this protection is not available in all states. In addition, the 7-year lookback rule varies from state to state.

In many states, it is illegal for an employer to consider a conviction from more than seven years ago when making employment decisions. This reflects a movement known as “Ban the Box.” It’s an effort to limit the amount of public information that employers can use when considering job applicants.