Why Check Federal Criminal Records?

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Since the events of September 11, many companies have accepted the fact that conducting criminal background checks on job applicants is a priority. Criminal background checks help employers avoid workplace violence, protect against negligent hiring liability and reduce employee dishonesty losses. Below are some statistics that show why screening for criminal records is a worthwhile investment for companies:

  • On-the-job violence costs employers $36 billion each year.
  • The average award in a workplace violence lawsuit exceeds $1 million per case.
  • 37.6% of surveyed college students admit to a history of criminal acts.
  • 30% of all business failures are caused by employee theft.

There are many different types of criminal background checks, but the two that are always recommended are the County and Federal Criminal Record Searches.

County criminal record searches in the US are available for all counties in all 50 states. These searches expose state police arrest records, suspended sentences, dismissals, probation and incarceration records. These searches can go back 5-, 7-, or 10 years and usually cover counties spun off the Social Security Trace. Unfortunately, a county search will only reveal crimes committed in the counties searched, and will not reveal crimes an applicant may have committed across state borders.

Some offenses are violations of Federal law as opposed to state or local law. Records of these types of crimes can be located in the US District Courts. Each state has at least one US District Court, while other states are divided into numerous districts.

Also referred to by the FBI as white collar crimes, Federal crimes include fraud offenses, bribery, forgery, embezzlement, tax law violations, interstate violations, terrorist acts, bank robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking and money laundering.

It is important to run a Federal Criminal Records Search because, generally, Federal crimes will not appear in a county or statewide criminal check. In addition, some records and violations you would expect to find in other locations are sometimes uncovered only as a result of the Federal Criminal Records Search.

Case in Point
Recently, on behalf of one of our clients, we ran a routine Sexual Offender Search on a John Smith. The Sexual Offenders Registry showed no record for this individual. However, a Federal Criminal Records Search was also performed on John Smith at the request of the hiring company. A search of Federal Court records identified Mr. Smith as a registered sex offender, therefore, making him ineligible for the job.

This is an example of how if the employer did not request to search Federal Courts they could have hired a convicted sex offender. And although this situation may be unlikely to occur on a regular basis, hiring this individual could have lead to disaster if the hiring company had not requested a Federal Criminal Records Search.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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