Companies often run criminal record searches as part of their pre-employment screening process. However, this phrase can refer to checks at the federal, national, state or county level. So, what’s included in a national criminal background check? And how does it differ from the others?
What Is a National Criminal Background Check?
A national criminal background check searches millions of digital records across thousands of jurisdictions in the United States. This includes terrorist and sex offender databases. A national screening provides a list of infractions, misdemeanors and felony convictions as well as pending cases. If someone does have a criminal record, the report will show the type of crime, the verdict, the date of the verdict and the name of the database where the record was located.
Advantages of a National Criminal Background Check
National criminal background checks are a great starting point. Since the average U.S. citizen moves more than eleven times during their lifetime, you’ll probably be hiring people who have lived in many places. (The Atlantic, 2016) Therefore, local searches may be too limited, whereas a national check will find and flag potential problems across states and counties.
Disadvantages of a National Criminal Background Check
Although national criminal background checks are extensive, they aren’t comprehensive. For example, they don’t include non-digital records or federal-level convictions. So, you could miss a county-level conviction in a court that keeps paper records. In addition, laws vary from region to region. As a result, something considered a felony in one state may be a misdemeanor in another. Without prior knowledge of state legal systems, it could be tricky to judge the severity of someone’s record.
Other Types of Criminal Background Checks
Federal Criminal Background Check
Federal criminal background checks search across 94 federal U.S. district and appellate court databases. These are different databases than those used for national checks. Federal checks uncover convictions and pending cases of federal-level crimes such as identity theft, tax evasion, counterfeiting, embezzlement, illegal firearms sales and kidnapping.
State Criminal Background Check
State criminal background checks are similar to national criminal background checks, but they are conducted at the state level. As with national screenings, state screenings offer an overview, but they could be incomplete. For instance, some county records may be missing from a state-level check.
County Criminal Background Check
County criminal background checks reveal the most accurate and up-to-date information. Of course, you don’t want to run an investigation in every county across the United States. Thus, most screening providers recommend searching candidate’s current county of residence, along with nearby counties and other areas where they’ve recently lived. Since some counties don’t have digitized systems, clerks may need to pull and deliver court records manually. This can cause the background check process to take longer.
Is Your Company Looking to Run National Criminal Background Checks?
Metrodata Services, Inc. conducts criminal record searches for hundreds of businesses in Western New York and beyond. We’d be happy to consult with your organization, so you can decide which background checks make the most sense for you. Give us a call today to learn more!