How far back can background checks go legally?

When applying for a job, criminal background checks are often a part of the application process. Learning more about how far back criminal background checks can go legally can help to ease the anxiety that some applicants may have when their employer runs a criminal background check.

Who Requests Criminal Background Checks?

Some employers request criminal background checks of prospective employees. Occasionally, other sources may request criminal background checks as well, particularly when hiring employees or volunteers who will be working with members of the public closely or with children in schools.

What Does a Criminal Background Check Look For?

A criminal background check searches through a database of criminal records, using the full legal name, date of birth and Social Security number of the person in question. A criminal background check will provide information about any felonies or misdemeanours that the person has been charged with and or convicted for.

How Far Back Do Most Criminal Background Checks Go?

When an employer or other party requests a background check, it will typically receive information dating back seven years. The amount of time that a background check dates back to can vary, however.

Which Types of Laws Govern Background Checks?

The amount and type of information, as well as how far back a background check goes, depends on individual state laws and regulations. Some states do not allow employers to access criminal records of prospective employees from other states, while others have statutes of limitations on how far back a background check is allowed to go.

Can Employment Be Denied Because of a Background Check?

If the prospective employee fails to disclose information that is later uncovered by a criminal background check, employment can be denied or revoked. In some cases, if a prospective employee voluntarily discloses information about her criminal background, an employer may offer her employment on a trial or conditional basis.

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About the Author

Hazel Baker has been writing professionally since 2003. She covers e-commerce, technology and legal topics for various online publications. Baker has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in history from Point Loma Nazarene University.

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