What results can an employer expect to find in a pre-employment criminal background check?
The first decision an employer must make in requesting a criminal background check is to determine how broad the search should be: national, statewide, or at the county level. There is currently no national criminal record search available, except in very limited situations when an FBI fingerprint check is required. The results of such a check take from 4 to 6 weeks to be returned to the inquirer.
A statewide search is broad, but can miss some crimes, as the statewide repository information is made up of arrests and dispositions reported by the various courts in the state, some of which may not report regularly if at all. A county check is thorough and detailed, but will not uncover crimes committed in other counties or jurisdictions. Not all statewide repositories are equal: some are limited as to years reported, severity of the crimes reported, and whether there has been a conviction or not. Some do not report pending cases. It pays to be aware of the limitations of the repositories that are used for the criminal check.
The FCRA, the agency that regulates the background industry, allows background screening companies to report all convictions revealed by the check; arrests with dispositions other than convictions may only be reported back seven years.