As a business owner, it is your responsibility to keep the workplace safe for all. There are various ways you can make sure of that. For example, you can focus on maintaining safety protocol standards.

But there’s something so much more basic that needs to be done. And that is conducting criminal background checks on new applicants. After all, there are more than 80 million Americans with a criminal record.

Given that not all criminal records should disqualify a person from getting a job. But there are certain elements that you would do well to keep far away from your company. That’s where thorough criminal background checks come in.

But what do these background checks involve? Before we move further, let us take a look at what is a criminal background check!

A new paper in The Quarterly Journal of Economics found out that more and more American employers are willing to hire people with criminal records.

Where do Background Check companies obtain their data from?

Background check companies extract data from a variety of sources. Some of these sources include:

  • County and State Courts
  • District Courts
  • Sex Offender Registries
  • Public Records from the Interpol
  • Criminal Record Databases (Both County and State)
  • County and State Police Departments
  • Prison Release Files

A major part of this information can be found online. But a thorough background check also involves rigorous on-field investigation as well. So, in order to conduct a proper criminal background check, you cannot rely on one single source.

What to Expect from Criminal Background Checks?

With a criminal background check, companies can look into various offenses. These include:

Traffic Offenses

Traffic offenses are violations of traffic rules and regulations. These can be anything from crossing the speed limit to jumping red lights. But in the case of criminal records, traffic offenses are reported only in cases where they are felonies or misdemeanors.

Past traffic offenses, if serious or repeated, can tell a lot about how responsible a person is. Companies can use that information especially when hiring for managerial positions.


As compared to felonies, misdemeanors are less severe. These are crimes that are mostly punishable by a fine or a county jail incarceration. They lie somewhere between a minor traffic offense and a felony.

But multiple misdemeanors can be a massive red flag for companies while hiring a candidate. At the very least, it gives a clear picture of the candidate’s personality.


A felony is regarded as a highly serious crime. It is often punishable by a jail term of more than one year. Drug crimes, sex crimes, murder, and other violent crimes are some of the most common felonies in the United States. Felonies can be both crimes against people and/or against the property.

For insurance, felonies that are against property include burglary, vandalism, arson, etc. On the other hand, crimes against people that come under felonies are murder, manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, etc.

Did You Know?

Things that must be checked in Criminal Background Checks

Companies should leave no stone unturned to take a look at a candidate’s criminal record. That’s why criminal background checks should be as thorough as possible. To make it possible, multiple records and databases need to be checked.

So, here’s a list of things that companies must dig into for thorough criminal background checks:

The Crime Watch List

There are several crime watchlists that companies must go through. Companies can easily conduct a check by simply running the credentials of the candidate through a database. Interpol’s Most Wanted list is an example of a crime watch list.

But there are many other databases at differing levels that companies can look into while checking a candidate’s criminal history.

Civil Litigations

Other than serious criminal cases, a person can also be involved in civil litigation as well. These can be of varying degrees of seriousness. So, companies must know if a candidate has been involved in such litigations in the past.

By looking at the details of a civil suit, companies can decide if they are open to hiring that particular candidate. After all, about 40 million lawsuits are filed every year in America. And a huge chunk of them is civil litigations.

Court Records

This one is a given whenever companies conduct a background check. By running a court records check, companies will find out if the candidate has any charges filed against them. They can also determine the nature of the case and if it is an active case.

In fact, court records also allow companies to get details of the cases. Depending on what they are willing to tolerate, employers can then make a hiring decision.

Credit Default

When hiring for a position that involves handling large amounts of money, it is important to get a deeper insight into the candidate’s financial history. For example, a candidate who has a series of overdue payments or has accumulated huge debts will not be a fit for this role.

That’s where credit records come in. They allow companies to find out if there are any red flags in a candidate’s past when it comes to managing money.

Reputational Risk Analysis

Hiring someone with a criminal record can cause grave damage to a company’s reputation. Even if a person was involved in a relatively minor case, it does not portray the company in good light.

Especially if someone is involved in some nasty business in the previous company, it is vital for employers to find out. If they miss out, the candidate might repeat the same fraud or scam.

Add to that the damage to the company’s reputation and you get the idea of how damaging irresponsible hiring can prove to be.

Background Checks generally include seven years of judicial and criminal records. Yet, the checks can go beyond that depending on searches and compliance regulations.

6 Reasons Why Companies Should Conduct Criminal Background Checks

If you have read on till here, you might ask a question. Why do companies take the pains of digging into so many records? Isn’t a normal screening enough to understand if a candidate is employable?

Well, no matter how rigorous a company’s recruitment process is, there are some things that it can never determine. That’s why it is better for companies to be on the safer side and conduct criminal background checks.

So, here are six reasons why your company too should always run criminal background checks on candidates

Determining if the Candidate is a Good Fit

A person with a background of serious drug crimes is not a good fit to work at a hospital. When hiring someone, companies should be sure that they are hiring someone who will make their workforce better. The last thing a company wants is a notorious employee who can put others at risk as well.

A thorough criminal background check gives them just the surety they need while making a hiring decision.

Protect the Workplace and Employees

It is every employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working space for everyone. Hiring someone with a series of misdemeanors will be counterproductive to that aim. Every year, more than 2 million people become victims of workplace violence in the United States.

Quick and thorough criminal background checks help companies protect their workplace, employees, and customers.

Protect Investors

When someone invests in a company, they expect a high return. And notorious employees that pose a risk of fraud and felonies are never good for business. So, by conducting a detailed criminal background check, brands also protect the investor’s interests.

Workplace violence alone causes businesses in the United States to lose over $250 Billion every year.

To Be in Line with Industry Norms

Every industry has norms that every company needs to follow. There are norms for hiring as well. These background checks make sure that your company does not flout any of these norms unknowingly.

After all, breaking any of these norms can cause both financial and reputational damage to a company.

To Prevent Financial Fraud

Companies in the United States lose huge amounts of money due to financial fraud. In a shocking stat, internal theft by employees costs a whopping $50 billion every year to US companies.

So, if you hire someone with a history of mismanaging money, it will surely expose your company to the risks of such fraud.

Employ theft comes in many shapes and forms. But more than 70% of employees admit to stealing from their company, at least once.

Enhancing Company’s Reputation

The workforce represents the company in front of clients and stakeholders. Naturally, a company would want its workforce to be filled with law-abiding, dedicated professionals. And criminal background checks help companies make sure of that.

So, conducting a thorough background check also helps companies enhance their reputation and portray a responsible image.

How long do Criminal Background Checks take?

Many companies ignore criminal checks citing how time-consuming it is. But on average, a criminal check will only take anywhere from one to three business days.

With the advancement in technology, the time these checks take continues to decrease. So, be assured that criminal background checks don’t take too much time at all.

Are Criminal Background Checks Legal?

Yes, conducting criminal background checks is legal. In fact, in most US states, the law requires employers to conduct criminal background checks. After all, it is important for employers to know the person they are hiring.

In Conclusion

In order to achieve business growth, companies need employees to work in a dedicated manner. And to make sure of that, employees must feel safe in the workplace environment.

Criminal background checks are a must for companies to ensure a safe, cooperative, and productive workplace.

Apart from that, criminal checks also reduce the risk of financial damage to the company. Looking at how quickly these checks can be conducted and the necessity, it is safe to say that every company must conduct a thorough criminal background check.

Luckily, there are companies that can conduct lightning-fast and detailed criminal background checks. Reach out to us and we’ll do it in a flash for you!