Why Is a Criminal Background Check Necessary?

why is a criminal background check necessary

Criminal background checks dig deep into an applicant’s past run-ins with the law. They can reveal felony convictions, misdemeanor convictions, pending arrests and charges, and expunged or sealed convictions.

However, it’s important to remember that federal and state laws restrict employers from using this information in a discriminatory manner. Here’s why you should screen every job finalist before offering a contract.

Prevent Discrimination

Whether or not to hire someone with a criminal record can be a difficult decision for employers. Background checks can reveal an applicant’s felony or misdemeanor convictions, pending charges, and incarceration history.

Some details may be relevant to the job, while others aren’t. Employers should consider the nature of the crime and its impact on the company’s culture and safety before making a decision.

However, blanket policies that exclude people with records could violate federal and state laws. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, religion, sex, age, or national origin.

Prevent Fraud

The right criminal background check can help you avoid hiring fraudsters and other criminals who could damage your company’s reputation or finances. It also helps you make a safe working environment for your employees and customers.

A criminal background check typically includes felony and misdemeanor convictions at the county, state, and federal levels, as well as pending charges or arrests. However, employers are generally advised to weigh the findings of arrests and pending charges less heavily than convictions since they don’t provide proof of guilt like a verdict or a guilty plea does.

For certain positions, such as finance jobs where employees will be handling money and financial information or healthcare positions where employees are near patients, employers need to screen for criminal convictions related to dishonesty and trustworthiness, such as fraud, embezzlement, and violence. It’s best to conduct a thorough criminal background check to find these convictions, as they could be very damaging to your business.

Prevent Harassment

The primary purpose of a criminal background check is to determine if a job candidate has a record that could prevent them from working safely. The best way to do this is by checking convictions, not arrest records or pending charges. Convictions offer proof of guilt that an arrest record or pending charge does not.

Employers also look at the types of crimes that an applicant has been convicted of. For example, those who work with children should not have a history of child abuse. Likewise, those who work in finance must be honest and trustworthy, so they should not have a history of dishonesty.

Most criminal background checks only go back seven years, though some states have varying laws on what employers can see. Additionally, some third-party providers can scour hundreds of public and private databases on applicants to bring together information in one place. These services often offer more comprehensive searches at a much lower cost. The most important thing to remember is that you should only hire people with a complete and accurate background check.

Prevent Disruption

A criminal background check helps prevent disruptions in your business by ensuring you hire the right person for each job. It also reduces the risk of costly legal claims and lost productivity due to bad hires.

A thorough criminal background check includes searches of county records and state and national databases. Searches include a complete record of arrests and convictions, including dates, charges, case numbers, and disposition. They also reveal if the crime was a felony or misdemeanor and whether it is a sealed, dismissed, or eradicated conviction.

In addition, a comprehensive criminal background check provides information about past involvement with organized crime, such as gangs, mafias, and other illegal enterprise groups. This can help you avoid hiring someone who may be involved in violent crime, embezzlement, bribery, or other racketeering activities.

As the Fair Chance Act takes effect, examining your recruitment policies closely is important. You should not consider a candidate’s criminal history on an application or in an interview, and you should only conduct checks after extending a conditional employment offer.

Prevent Harm

Depending on the type of business you run, a criminal background check can help to prevent harm to your customers and employees. If someone steals from your company or is violent, it can be very costly in terms of lost revenue and morale. In addition, if an employee does something that damages the reputation of your business in the community or with customers, it can be very difficult to recover from this damage. It can have devastating consequences for your bottom line.

A criminal background check can include a multi-jurisdictional “national” criminal database search and county and state searches to identify dangerous convictions that could put your business, customers, and staff in harm’s way. It can also include pending charges or arrests, although employers are usually advised not to weigh these findings as heavily as convictions in their hiring decisions.

Unlike credit checks, which are subject to restrictions under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and EEOC guidance, a criminal background check can be much more broad and comprehensive. This means it is more likely to capture the offenses cited above and those related to financial misconduct, such as embezzlement and fraud.