For people charged with or arrested for a crime, one of their many worries is whether the charges or possible conviction will be seen by landlords or prospective employers who perform criminal background checks. Employers depend on these checks when deciding who to and who not to hire. In most scenarios, criminal convictions might reflect negatively on a possible new job opportunity and eventually prevent you from being selected for employment. People accused or found guilty of a crime usually ask how the background check procedure is conducted and what they should expect. This blog explains in detail.

California Criminal Background Checks Overview

A criminal background check refers to the process whereby a person or company acquires information regarding your criminal record, for instance, past misdemeanor or felony convictions. This process can also disclose if you have previously been caught committing an offense and are presently facing charges. Various parties can perform a criminal background check, including prospective employers, schools, and landlords.

The word 'criminal background checks' covers a broader perspective, and we have different levels of your background that may be explored based on the party performing the search. Whenever a police officer arrests you or wants to scrutinize your criminal background information, they will generally acquire a rap sheet from the FBI or Department of Justice that lists all the times you have been placed under arrest and the result of the arrest. Rap sheets are deemed confidential; thus are not available to employers and other parties requesting someone's criminal record. Disclosing someone's sheet without permission or any further valid justification is considered a misdemeanor offense. You can request the Department of Justice your rap sheet to review and ensure it has no errors.

A background check may significantly impact your future life opportunities. If there is any crime on your record, you should know what a background check will say about you. Prior arrests and convictions need not follow you into your future. In most cases, you can prevent an arrest and conviction from reflecting on your background check.

Criminal Background Checks Are Mostly Legal

It is lawful for certain companies to perform a criminal background check against you. However, there are statutes limiting the info these companies are permitted to check and how they utilize it to make their decisions. For instance, prospective employers are permitted to perform a criminal background check against you. Although per California 'Ban the Box' statute, they can only review your criminal history after making a conditional employment offer. A conditional job offer means you will secure the job if you prevail in the required background checks and tests.

Put otherwise; it is unlawful for an employer to ask you questions regarding your criminal record before they make you a conditional employment offer. This means they are not allowed to include questions concerning criminal records in employment application forms, both online and on paper, or otherwise utilize your criminal record to throw out your job application before they give you an opportunity. An employer should only review your criminal history if they have decided you will have the employment position if you prevail in the relevant tests.

The 'Ban the Box' rule exempts companies with fewer than five workers. Any business bigger than this must give all job applicants an unbiased opportunity to prove their job capabilities. Looking into your criminal history before the right time subverts this condition by allowing employers to disregard your application with no consideration due to your criminal history.

If a prospective employer requests you to reveal your criminal record or performs a background check prior to making you a conditional job offer, you could sue them for employment discrimination.

Under California law, businesses are also mandated to personally assess your circumstances before they can deny you a chance based on your criminal history. Should they decide to retract their employment offer, decline your rental application due to your criminal history, or deny you an opening at their school, they have to show a report of their background check to you. They also must inform you what convictions made you disqualified.

They also must give you a minimum of five days to reply, enabling you to present proof to rectify an incorrect report, provide mitigating circumstances, or show evidence of rehabilitation.

For instance, you could prove that you completed a narcotics rehab program or took the necessary measures to make up for your offense. You need not submit this proof immediately. Provided you reply within five days to inform the employer you are collecting proof to respond to their rejection, they should give you an extra five days to reach out to them again to provide the evidence.

Should an employer deny you this additional time or fail to acknowledge your response, you can sue them for employment discrimination.

What Will the Background Check Reveal?

A California background check can show prospective employers:

  • Felony convictions
  • Misdemeanor convictions
  • Unresolved criminal cases
  • Arrests that are awaiting prosecution
  • Any arrest report that resulted in a felony conviction
  • Any arrest report that resulted in a misdemeanor conviction
  • Any incarceration history as a grown-up

Information That a Background Check Will Not Disclose

In California, any criminal conviction can be reported only for seven years, with some exceptions. Any convictions, complaints, misdemeanors, arrests, and indictments that occurred over seven years ago cannot show on criminal background checks. Expungements, full pardons, and any arrest resulting in a case dismissal cannot show up.

Other details that ought not to reflect on your background check are:

  • Any misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction that is more than two years old
  • Your successful diversion program participation
  • Your juvenile records
  • Your sealed criminal records
  • Arrests for given crimes after twenty-four months

Usually, there are cases where someone was caught committing a crime like domestic violence, but the prosecutor declined to file criminal charges after thoroughly reviewing the case facts. In this scenario, because the prosecutor rejected the case, the arrest records cannot be disclosed to landlords or employers performing a background check.

There might also be instances where someone is found guilty of DUI after being arrested for operating a vehicle with a BAC past the legal limit. After serving probation, the person requests an expungement. If the judge grants the expungement request, the crime should not reflect on a background check. Although, if a police officer checked your criminal history, they would know about the prior DUI conviction. If the person were prosecuted for a subsequent drunk driving crime within ten years of the first conviction, the crime would be deemed a second drunk driving offense despite expunging the first crime.

There are particular instances where these limitations are relaxed. For instance, healthcare providers have a broader scope of inquiry. They can ask about sex crimes the prospective workers committed when the employment position entails access to vulnerable parties or patients. Similarly, when it comes to jobs involving proximity or drug access, employers are permitted to make more in-depth inquiries into any narcotics offense that a prospective employee could have committed in the past.

The law requires employers to keep a criminal background check for a minimum of two years. If later you have some info erased from your history, employers would still have a copy of your initial background check. An employer must inform you what agency gave out their background check. The person who conducted the background check must give you a duplicate of the complete report if you request them within twenty-four months of the first check. This could help you determine precisely what info was given out and whether or not it is accurate.

Not Everyone Accesses Your Criminal History

A company that has conditionally made an employment offer to you has access to your criminal history, as do police officials. Hiring agencies contracted by prospective employers can access the criminal history on behalf of the employer.

Potential landlords may also look into your criminal history, as are universities, colleges, and schools to which you have sent your application.

Schools and businesses will need your consent in writing to hire someone else to perform a background check. They may still look into your public records with no permission from you since this info is accessible by everybody regardless.

However, the law still instructs employers to give you a duplicate of the report whenever they access your public records unless you surrendered this legal right in your application. Should an employer decide to dismiss your job application based on your public record information, they must issue you a duplicate of the records, regardless of whether or not you waived your right to be given the copy. You could also look into your criminal history yourself, which is an ideal move.

Why You Want to Check Your Criminal History

Other people will check your criminal history for different reasons, which could impact your life opportunities. For instance, you could be denied an employment offer or accommodation due to the info discovered in your record. Knowing everything your criminal history says regarding you could allow you to clarify what various parties will find there.

Additionally, it may also assist you in understanding what you have to say when asked questions about your record. Your criminal history may contain info you did not know about, making you look dishonest before a prospective employer.

Reviewing your criminal history may also assist you in improving it. It might contain incorrect or outdated information or info that is not supposed to be displayed. Unless you find out what your record says regarding you, you will be incapable of correcting information that might unfairly limit your opportunities.

Most offenses can be expunged or lowered to misdemeanors from felonies. Checking your criminal record will let you know the precise charges captured on the record, plus other info that can assist you in pursuing a reduction or expungement like your conviction date. This is critical where the statute governing your crime has been changed or modified since you were convicted.

A background check will tell you precisely what the charges against you were when you entered a plea and whether you were sentenced to probation or not. All this information is crucial for both expungements and charges reductions.

How Long Will a Criminal Background Check Take?

A criminal background check can search various sources, including federal, state, and county criminal records, sex offender registries, and terrorist watch lists. The specific period a criminal background check takes varies based on whether or not court records are digitized and what database is being searched.  Most county courts do not have digital records. Therefore, searches must be conducted manually, which could take as long as thirty days.

To make matters even more complicated, current legal decisions concerning consumer privacy imply that California is now redacting date of birth info from any court records accessed through public access terminals. Without a date of birth, it is more difficult for a person conducting a background check to verify that a criminal record belongs to the right person. They might have to go to the court courthouse personally to obtain the data they require.

Find a Record Expungement Attorney Near Me

Your criminal history can significantly impact your future life opportunities. However, in most cases, it needs not to. With help from a lawyer experienced in background checks, you can request that some information be deleted from your criminal history through expungement and petition for record sealing. This means the expunged and sealed record will not reflect in criminal background checks, which, in turn, means you will not have to reveal it when someone wants to know anything concerning your criminal record.

Whereas the conviction will not disappear from the public records, it will appear as ‘expunged’ or ‘dismissed.’ If you have been charged or convicted in Los Angeles and your criminal history is standing in your way, our lawyers at Record Expungement Attorney are readily available to help you. We can help you with a complete background check, addressing reports eligible for reduction or removal and enabling you to have an impeccable first impression whenever a person conducts a background check against you. Call us today at 424-286-1516 for more details about criminal background checks.