All About Criminal Background Checks

Courtesy of William Bronchick, Bronchick Law

Although my legal practice at Bronchick Law normally doesn’t deal a lot with background checks, there are times when it may be either appropriate or even necessary.

Background checks are a useful screening and selection tool for companies. Of the many types of background checks, criminal background checks are routinely carried out by employers to ensure that they are not courting a risk of physical and mental trauma. In fact, in several states in the U.S, criminal background checks are compulsory for prospects who apply for positions in places such as nursing homes, educational institutions, and adult care centers.

Firms that do background checks have access to records in county courthouses and databases in various states that contain information on those convicted or charged with a felony, misdemeanor, or criminal act. Upon receiving a request from a client, the firm researches the county records of the individual’s place of residence. The information required for initiating a search includes the first, middle, and last names, social security number, date of birth, and county of residence. The results can be obtained from a county, state, and federal resource.

The most detailed information is usually obtained from the county courts; it can include criminal charges, dates, the sentence, and disposition. County courts also provide dockets and supporting information upon request. The amount and detail of information available in repositories across states in the U.S can vary. The information supplied will be a compilation of records gathered from police departments and the local courts. For information on criminal acts that take place outside a state or local jurisdiction, federal records are referred. The criminal activities covered in federal records include drug trafficking, dealing in stolen materials, kidnapping, arson, and dacoity. The time required for obtaining information from the county and federal records can vary from one to three days. The turnaround time for information from state records varies with the state.

Background checks can also be requested from government organizations such as the Department of Justice. The information provided is limited to criminal history information and will not provide data on the status of immigration and consumer credit data. Since there is no national database on criminals, the most effective way of obtaining information on criminals is through person-to-person communication between the background check company and the courthouse. Although low-tech, this is a quick method for unearthing relevant criminal information about an individual with reference to a particular job.


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