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What is a Felony Background Check?

A felony background check would indicate if a person was found guilt of grand larceny, such as stealing a car.
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  • Written By: Jessica Hobby
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  • Last Modified Date: 09 July 2014
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Companies hiring new employees or volunteers or reviewing existing employees and individuals may choose to perform a background check on someone for a variety of reasons that pertain to company protection. Many companies or individuals are more specifically concerned with a felony background check. A felony background check concentrates on the criminal record of an individual and allows the inquisitor to know of any felonies that the subject of the check may have been convicted of, such as serious crimes like murder, rape or grand theft. It is commonly thought that if someone has a felony conviction that they may be a repeat offender endangering anyone around them.

Although individuals may perform a felony background check on someone, such as a landlord checking out a tenant, felony background checks are primarily run by employers. Some employers are even required by law to perform a felony background check. It is most common for a check to be required on employees working with children and elderly or disabled persons. Employers are checking criminal records for child abuse and child abduction. It has also become popular in recent years to look for felonies that have to do with suspected terrorist activities.

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When felony background checks are not required by law, employers may choose to conduct one for their own interests. Once a company hires an employee, they may be liable for the employee’s actions. When a company makes a poor hiring choice, it may be costly in numerous ways. Not only may a poor decision cause issue financially by requiring a payout in a lawsuit or losing funds to fraudulent activities, but a company may also receive damage to their reputation.

For individuals or employers looking to conduct a felony background check on someone, they have a variety of options. Private investigators are most commonly used for individuals or small businesses wishing to perform a felony background on someone. For medium to large size companies that need to perform multiple felony background checks, there are companies that specialize in employment screening.

Alternatively, anyone who wishes to perform a felony background check on someone may do so through an online data broker. Employers need to be cautious in conducting felony background checks on the internet. Information offered to the public by web-based information brokers is not accurate or updated. In the United States, it is against federal law to report or make hiring decisions on inaccuracies.

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Discuss this Article

anon297054
Post 16

What about someone arrested, but not convicted of a felony? I believe it is extremely ignorant of employers not to consider any of the facts surrounding a one-time felony arrest that is over 10 years old, and did not lead to a conviction.

Also, wouldn't you say that 95 percent (or more) of people who were 18 - 20 years old at the time of arrest left their teenage ways long behind them once they entered adulthood, and/or were very likely to have simply been involved in a wrong place, wrong time incident (with the exception of crimes like murder and rape)?

tolleranza
Post 15

@ geekish: I am not sure what jobs have a company background check, or, for that matter, what it is. But if I were to take an educated guess I would say it is where other companies and/or people can check the background of particular companies.

You might need to know the background of particular companies to check things like a company’s credit and history, that way other people and companies know whether or not to invest and/or be a part of that company.

My first job was as a retail associate, and I was kind of surprised they had background checks. But I think it was surprising to me more so because I didn't know companies did that since it was my first job.

It is not surprising now that I really think about it, considering I worked with people and money on a regular basis.

geekish
Post 14

Does anyone know of a job that has a company background check? How is this alike and different to a criminal background check? Also, I am interested in knowing what jobs people have applied for that they were surprised did or did not have a criminal background check?

Tomislav
Post 13

I think it is very important to do a criminal background check. I have mostly worked with children, so I have gone through a few criminal background checks already. I would not want to work at a place that did not do one. I feel safe knowing my co-workers and I passed a criminal background check.

It is best in any place of employment that deals with people to do a background check, for the safety of the customers and the workers. Also, in any place dealing with money, this would be best too, because a lot of felony offenses deal with money fraud, laundering, embezzlement, etc.

I do believe some ex-felons should be given another chance. In my opinion, it should be based on the severity of their crime. For me, murder and rape is at the top, so those people, as changed as they may be, should not get the opportunity to work with people who have a clean background, or with children or the elderly.

Everyone should have consequences for their actions, so although I do believe anyone can change and be a better person, they shouldn't get the same opportunities as people who have not made those wrong decisions

kylee07drg
Post 12

I have an uncle who was convicted of a felony. He abused his wife so badly that her face was disfigured, and he spent years in prison because of it.

When he got out, he had a tough time finding a job. If an application stated that they would run a background check, he simply tore it up and walked out of the building. He knew no one would hire him if they knew his past.

He finally landed a job working construction. His employer was short-handed at the time and looking for anyone with skills. He wasn’t interested in my uncle’s past, so he didn’t run a check.

orangey03
Post 11

When my cousin applied for a position working for the state, a background check was required. He had applied to be a park ranger at a state park, and he would be carrying a gun, so they had to make sure he was clean.

Additionally, young women often come to the park to jog or be alone. A park ranger previously convicted of rape would be a danger to them, so they had to cover all their bases.

His record was clean, so they hired him. He said he is glad that they do background checks on rangers, because sometimes, they are the only ones in the park, and it’s nice to know that he’s not in there alone with any murderers.

Oceana
Post 10

My company runs background checks on everyone before hiring them. I am an interviewer, and I am in charge of getting the results of the checks.

I interviewed one guy who seemed perfect for the job. He had a charming personality, dressed professionally, and even had great references to go along with his impressive resume. He was an older gentleman, so he had lots of experience.

This is why I was astonished at the results of his felony background check. He had served ten years in prison for embezzlement! He had applied for a position dealing with large amounts of money, and I would have hired him if not for his record.

cloudel
Post 9

Anyone who has ever applied for a job with a company that runs background checks has seen this disclosed on the application. Almost every job that I have applied for has run a felony background check.

The one job that didn’t run the check was one where I had no contact with customers and no dealings with money. I worked on the computer in the back of the building, so I couldn’t have had access to anything of value to the company.

The application for that position was very basic. I don’t even think they asked me for any references.

LisaLou
Post 8

I know a man who has a felony conviction on his record. I don't know of any job applications that don't have this listed as a question.

He is always upfront about it and knows they will still run a felony background check on him. Even though this has probably kept him from getting many jobs, this is something that he knows he has to be honest about.

It would be much worse to lie on the application because if they run a check, they are going to find out anyway.

Felony background checks are a protection measure for everyone. I know if I was an employer, I would not have a problem paying for this extra expense for the peace of mind that it would give.

andee
Post 7

My daughter has worked in day care for many years and currently is a director at a facility.

Performing background checks is an essential part of her job. When you have employees that are working with children, you can't take any chances.

I would not feel comfortable sending my child to a place that did not perform background checks. In addition to background checks, they have cameras in every room and all throughout the building.

These precautions are necessary not only for the safety of the children, but also for peace of mind of the parents and employer.

honeybees
Post 6

Performing felony background checks seem to be a standard process for many companies. My son in law just got hired as a security guard and went through two background checks with two different companies before being hired.

One check was for the security company he would be working for, and the other background check was for the company who owned that particular security company.

Even though there is additional expense involved in running these background checks, I think it would be foolish for many companies not to do them.

It would save them a lot of money in the long run by making sure the employees they hire do not have a record that would not be appropriate for the position they are hired for.

Sunny27
Post 5

@JaneAir- I understand what you are saying, but I am sure a lot of companies do a criminal record background check to make sure that they lower their risks of hiring someone. Every time that an employer hires someone they are taking a risk that they person will work out.

This is especially true if the person is going to be dealing with the customer’s financial data or working with children. If I had a business I would run a complete background check on every employee just as a safeguard.

That doesn’t mean that the person that I hire will not commit a felony after the background check is done which is one of the problems with the background check in the first place. There is no guarantee that the employee has not committed additional crimes after they received employment from me which is why I think that employees should be subjected to yearly background checks to make sure that they have not committed any other crimes that I don’t know about.

I realize that a felon has a right to work, but unfortunately the bad choices that the felon has made will cost him or her future job opportunities and that is just the way it is.

JaneAir
Post 4

@indemnifyme - I think a felony background checks makes total sense for your job. Also for jobs in the medical field, or jobs working with children.

I worry that a lot of other places are getting background check happy though. If someone has committed a crime, and done their time in jail, they should be able to find some kind of gainful employment. I feel like if we prevent felons from finding some kind of legal employment they will just return to crime!

indemnifyme
Post 3

The insurance company I work for performed a felony background check before hiring me. I think this was only sensible, considering that I have access to a lot our customer's sensitive information. It would be easy to use that information to steal their identity or something if I were a criminal!

letshearit
Post 2

If you do have a felony record and it shows up on a felony background check you can completely forget about a ton of jobs, and sometimes even traveling to certain countries. I am not sure if there is felony expungement, because the crimes are more serious.

I think that if you are looking into expunging a felony you need to talk with a qualified lawyer about the process. I can imagine it would be pretty time consuming. As many companies have background check software they can use, you really can't hid your past misdeeds. It is just best to own up to your mistakes and let the cards fall where they may.

wander
Post 1

When I was working as a teacher abroad they always asked me for a felony background check. In some countries the free criminal check you can get done at your local police station wasn't good enough. As part of the job background check the positions I applied for wanted a full FBI background check, that required you to get fingerprints taken.

While I had hoped that a free felony background check was the solution, the places I wanted to work also needed me to have my background check apostilled. This made the whole process of getting a felony background check done very expensive.

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