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Do You Know Who Checks Criminal Record?

Jun 26, 2008
Since 9/11, the American public has become much more conscious about security. It is now common for someone looking for work to learn that an employer checks criminal records of prospective new employees. Criminal background checks are now being done by some companies on current employees.

As a result, some people are finding that offenses committed many years ago are causing trouble in the present. Additionally, most states have laws requiring professional licensing boards to do criminal record checks to for occupation-related convictions. This practice is leading to youthful offenses, making it difficult for workers to find jobs. Some people are even losing jobs that they have worked at for years.

A company must obtain a prospective employee's written consent before it can run a check and get criminal record information. Read your application carefully. Often the wording for obtaining consent for a criminal record check is written into the job application, though some companies use a separate consent form.

Many states have laws limiting how far back they can check for convictions, or limiting the types of convictions they take into account for business or job-related offenses. Even if your record has been expunged, these types of offenses may still come up in a criminal records search. You may want to check with a lawyer to find out how far into the past an employer can look for arrests or convictions.

A licensing board is an agency that checks criminal records for people who wish to work in many occupations. Teachers, health care workers, childcare or elder care workers and accountants are examples of license applicants who may be subject to criminal record search.

The licensing agency may limit the background check to occupation-related offenses. While a larceny conviction will most likely not cause a problem if applying for a license for massage therapy, one for prostitution or for a sex offense would. A criminal record can create special problems if you are applying for a license to work with vulnerable persons, such as children.

It may be a prospective employer doing a background check. It may be a state licensing board that checks criminal records. Either way, a past criminal record can create problems in getting a job.

If the offense happened long ago, then a clean criminal record in the intervening years can help. Having your record expunged can also help in obtaining work or getting a professional license. Either way, you should talk to a lawyer. He or she can tell you how a past indiscretion can affect your future employability.
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