Misdemeanors on Background Checks: An Essential Guide 

by ECL Writer
Misdemeanors on Background Checks

Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are considered less severe than felonies. However, they can still have a significant impact on a person’s life, especially when it comes to employment opportunities. Many employers conduct background checks on potential employees, and misdemeanor offenses can show up on these checks, potentially affecting an individual’s chances of being hired. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how misdemeanors are handled in background checks.

In this post, Eastcoastlaws.com will provide an essential guide on misdemeanors on background checks. We will discuss what misdemeanors are, how they differ from felonies, and how they can affect employment opportunities. We will also explore the legal requirements for conducting background checks, the types of background checks that employers may conduct, and the limitations and protections provided by the law.

Whether you are an employer conducting background checks or an individual concerned about how your misdemeanor offense may affect your job prospects, this guide will provide you with valuable information on the impact of misdemeanors on background checks. By understanding the laws and regulations surrounding background checks, you can make informed decisions and take steps to protect your rights and interests.

What Is A Misdemeanor?

Let’s start by looking at what a misdemeanor is. A misdemeanor is a small offense that is considered to be relatively common in the United States. Even though the maximum sentence for misdemeanors is 12 months in prison, most of the time probation, monetary penalties, and community service are used as punishments.

Are misdemeanors considered crimes? Yes, a misdemeanor is a felony, which is why a conviction will show up on some background checks. To put it another way, applicants who have been found guilty of a misdemeanor should still respond “Yes” when asked if they have ever been convicted of a crime.

Do Misdemeanors Show Up On A Background Check?

Criminal history checks are a regular part of the background checks employers undertake during the employment process. These background investigations are based on the data that candidates have submitted, like their Social Security number. It depends on the sort of background check used and the laws in each state, but all criminal histories, including felonies and misdemeanors, will be visible. Let’s examine a few of the various background check types.

State Rules On Disclosure Of Convictions

First, certain states do have rules on conviction disclosures. If you have a misdemeanor record, there may be a limited period relating to disclosure. For example, certain states prohibit disclosure of certain criminal records if more than seven years have passed since the conviction. These states are:

  • California
  • Kansas
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Washington
  • New Mexico 

Criminal Background Checks

Criminal background checks will show any misdemeanor convictions you have unless state law forbids them. The results of these background checks also include information about open criminal cases, prior incarcerations, and in certain circumstances, arrests.

Pre-Employment Background Checks

To confirm employment history, education, and any professional licenses, the majority of pre-employment background investigations also include a criminal background check. Pre-employment background checks for misdemeanors could include investigating the candidate’s driving history and subjecting them to drug tests. There are restrictions on what pre-employment background checks can reveal, including the following:

  • If a job pays less than $75,000, civil judgments, government sanctions, and disciplinary measures relating to professional licenses will not appear.
  • If a job pays more than $75,000, the above information can be revealed even if more than seven years have passed.

FBI Background Check

When applying for positions with Federal government agencies and any businesses that work for them, FBI background checks are frequently required. It might also be applied to positions in the federal, state, and local governments. This background investigation includes all communications with law enforcement, such as traffic infractions and parking fines. Naturally, there will also be crimes. Gaining government security clearances frequently starts with this.

Misdemeanor FAQs

Misdemeanor background checks can seem daunting. However, it’s important to be honest on a job application. While technically considered a crime, a misdemeanor doesn’t automatically disqualify you from employment. Here are a few common questions we’ve received regarding misdemeanor background checks:

How long does a misdemeanor stay on your record?

Do misdemeanors go away? Generally, no. A misdemeanor remains a criminal conviction. However, after time has passed, you may be able to petition the court to have your misdemeanor sealed or expunged.

How do I know if I have a misdemeanor on my record?

There are several ways to get a copy of your criminal record. Approach your state bureau, state police, or state public safety office to obtain your record. You may be required to submit fingerprints.

Does a Class C misdemeanor stay on your record?

Yes, most criminal background checks will still reveal class C misdemeanors. It’s important to note Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas are the only states to use this classification for misdemeanors.

However, some states are lenient when it comes to getting class C misdemeanors expunged, such as Texas.

Will juvenile records appear on a criminal record?

How long do misdemeanors stay on your record if you were convicted as a juvenile? In most cases, juvenile records can be sealed and/or expunged after you turn 18. However, you must petition the juvenile court where you were convicted, as this process generally is not automatic. Level 2 background checks will still bring up these records, but most criminal background checks exclude them.

Do pending and dismissed charges appear on criminal records?

Pending charges do sometimes appear, but some states like Kentucky prohibit this practice. Dismissed charges do appear in some background checks, but Federal guidelines prohibit candidates from being turned down for a job due to dismissed charges.

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