The Criminal Record Effect: Do Pending Charges Show Up on a Background Check?

Landing a job with a criminal record is tough; Especially when you consider that 70 million men and women in the United States have been arrested or convicted of a crime that will show up on a background check. When an employer sees a conviction they can get cold feet. But what happens when a person is newly arrested and facing pending charges? In other words, they aren’t convicted of a crime by a court of law but their name may turn up in a court records search?

Believe it or not, this scenario plays out all too often and has applicants and employers equally stumped. Here are some examples taken directly from industry-leading job boards and employment law firm forums:

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 As you can see, there is plenty of concern surrounding this issue without a lot of concrete information. What we do know is this:

  • Background checks are an integral and necessary component to any hiring process.
  • Resumes often contain false information so verifying identities and backgrounds is crucial.
  • Although federal hiring laws exist, different states have different laws regarding background checks.
  • Many of these differing laws involve arrests, criminal convictions, and pending cases.

If you’re an employer or an employee and you want to get a better handle on how pending cases may affect a background check, we urge you to contact our expert team at Active Screening. As a nationally-accredited screening agency, our leaders understand the complexities of background screening and will work with you to find the best answer to your concerns.

In the meantime, here are some brief explanations to the most pressing questions about pending charges:

Q: Do pending charges show up on a background check?

A: If an employer is requesting a criminal background check, the short answer is yes, with exception to a few states that have laws prohibiting such reports. Pending cases will often be displayed on a court’s public access system or index along with other cases that are disposed or finished. At Active Screening, we report all court records that show on the public access system AND that fall within the reporting guidelines set forth in the FCRA and some individual state’s FCRA guidelines too. Our compliance team, led by Benton Mobley (you can read his expert profile here), regularly updates and relies on a document called the Scope of Reportable Records that highlights the strict reporting guidelines the Active Screening compliance and research teams adhere to.

Q: Do applicants have to disclose if they have been arrested or are facing pending charges?

A: Sometimes an application asks candidates to admit to any previous convictions. There is usually a box an applicant must check to disclose this. There is a movement, though, called Ban The Box that is working to prevent this as some people feel it unfairly discriminates against people with criminal convictions. St. Petersburg, FL is the latest municipality to join the growing list of cities and states who are adopting this trend. It’s imperative that employers know what the law says in their location. If an employer doesn’t know, they need to do due diligence to find this information out.

Sometimes, though, employers may also ask candidates to share with them any arrests or pending charges, like this person experienced:

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It’s important that employers be as specific as possible when putting anything in writing on applications that ask about convictions, arrests or charges. Additionally, employers may want to ensure the screening agency with whom they’re working has a re-screen policy to turn up any fresh information.

Still have questions? We have answers. Send us your comment below or call one of our screening experts at 1-800-319-5580 for help. Whether you’re an employer, or a future employee, we’re happy to help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of criminal background checks.

This entry was posted in Background Screening, Criminal Records, General, Human Resources, Industry Solutions, News, References & Credentialing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
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I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

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