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Question: Do Misdemeanors Show Up on a Background Check?

Do Misdemeanors Show Up on a Background Check?

Many companies run criminal record search as part of a screening process. So, what types of crimes could be listed? Do misdemeanors show up on a background check or only felonies?

Usually, misdemeanors DO show up on a background check. However, there are exceptions. Here’s a brief overview.

What’s the Difference Between an Infraction, a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

Most courts in the United States classify crimes depending on the severity.

  • Infractions are violations of the law resulting in fines or minimal jail time (less than five days). Generally, they don’t show up on a criminal background check. Examples include petty offenses such as traffic tickets, littering and disturbing the peace.
  • Misdemeanors are criminal offences leading to less than one year of jail time. They are broken into three levels, Classes C through A, with Class A carrying the strictest sentences. Examples include simple assault, reckless driving and shoplifting.
  • Felonies are the most serious type of crime. The punishment for felonies ranges from more than one year to life imprisonment. Examples include arson, armed robbery and murder.

What Impacts the Listing of Misdemeanors on a Background Check?

  • The Definition of a Misdemeanor
    The classification of infractions, misdemeanors and felonies isn’t necessary clear cut. Often, each region has its own categorization rules. Thus, public intoxication could be listed as misdemeanor in one state and an infraction in another.
  • The Amount of Time Passed
    Some states allow unlimited reporting on criminal records; others restrict lookbacks to five, seven or ten years. In addition, there may be even more stringent regulations on the disclosure of misdemeanors. For instance, Hawaii forbids reporting on felonies after seven years and misdemeanors after five.
  • The Status of the Charge
    In most cases pending misdemeanors will show up on a background check. Yet again, this can vary by state. Kentucky prohibits the listing of any pending charges, while Michigan allows for reporting on pending felonies only.
  • The Type of Search
    Frequently, county courts handle and store the records for misdemeanors. As a result, if a company runs a state or national criminal background check, they could overlook a misdemeanor. This especially holds true if a lower-level court doesn’t keep digital records or if they don’t report to state repositories. Therefore, as a best practice, employers should consider conducting county-level checks in places where a person has lived.

Can Someone Have a Misdemeanor Removed from Their Record?

It’s extremely difficult to expunge or erase a felony from a criminal record, but misdemeanor expungement is relatively common. If a person goes through a petitioning process, they may be able to have a misdemeanor legally discharged. The type of crime, the amount of time passed and the individual’s overall record may influence this process.

Does Your Organization Need to Run Criminal Background Checks?

Metrodata Services is Western New York’s leading pre-employment screening provider. We conduct federal, national, state and/or county criminal record checks. Plus, our professional staff will help you interpret the results, so you’ll know who you’re hiring. Learn more about the advantages of partnering with Metrodata today!

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