Probably the biggest challenge that felons face after their release is to find a job. Employers typically conduct a background check on applicants, making it challenging to find that job. But what about if the felony is older than 7 years? Will this still show up on a background check?
This blog post will answer that question and the following:
- What is a Background Check?
- What is Included in a Background Check?
- Criminal Records
- Reporting Felony Convictions After 7 Years
- How Far Back do Background Checks Go?
- Supporting a Felon When a Felony Shows Up After Seven Years
What is a Background Check?
The purpose of a background check is to ensure employers hire the best candidate for a job.
Many employers won’t hire felons, believing they are dishonest and likely to commit a crime on the job. Or employers fear the public finding out they hire felons, damaging the company’s reputation and losing business.
There are employers who will hire felons, but it will still take persistence in completing a number of applications in order to find that job.
There are several reasons why employers conduct a background check on job applicants and even on current employees.
- Negligent hiring practices. If an employee’s actions hurt someone, employers may be held liable.
- Terrorism has caused increased security caution in hiring.
- False information on applications can hurt the hiring policy.
- Federal and state laws require background checks on those working with children, the elderly, and disabled.
- Background checks are becoming easier and cheaper to perform.
Felons can lose a professional license or permit required in their previous line of work. They can’t be denied the opportunity to regain their license simply because they have been convicted of a felony. That is discrimination.
But they can lose out due to the potential damage or harm or threat they represent for the company with the public.
Of course for positions requiring high security or trust, employers want to make certain they make a good decision.
If you’re wondering what’s going to show up on your background check, we highly recommend using this service so that you can see what’s on there before you apply anywhere.
This information allows employers to determine a candidate’s past mistakes, character, moral and financial fitness, and to pinpoint hiring risks for security and safety issues.
While background checks are not mandatory by law, they are required in areas involving an individual’s personal and private information.
These industries are in home healthcare, financial, and insurance companies along with others.
What is Included in a Background Check?
In conducting a background check, basic information from applicants includes full name, date of birth, and Social Security Number.
Among the types of information typically included in a background check are:
- Driving records
- Credit records, including bankruptcy
- Criminal records
- Education records
- Court records
- Character references
- Medical records
- Military records
- State licensing records
- Drug test records
- Past employers
- Personal references
- Incarceration records
- Sex offender lists
- Social media profiles
This portion of the background check involves a search of criminal history files for any criminal activity.
A criminal background check typically reveals the following information:
- Convictions of felonies, misdemeanors, and sex crimes
- Current home address and phone number as well as those within the past ten years
- Arrests and court records (Dockets, orders, decrees, judgments)
- Incarceration records
- Federal and state tax liens
- Federal and civil judgments
- Federal and state bankruptcies
- Age and date of birth
- Any alias’ and maiden names
- Marriages and divorces
Most common is a County background check. This will show a felony criminal history and misdemeanors in most counties.
Then, there is a Federal Criminal Record Check. This shows federal crimes and crimes committed on federal property.
A Statewide and Nationwide check, Sex Offender Registry, and a Global Homeland Security Search reveals if an individual is in any of these databases.
According to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a background check will show all non-convictions. These include cases resulting in these dispositions:
- Nolle prossed (Will not prosecute)
- Deferred Adjudication
- Pre-trial diversion
Reporting Felony Convictions After 7 Years
Non-convictions can be reported for up to seven years. Convictions can be reported without any time limitation, so it is likely to show up on a background check even if it’s been more than 7 years.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows felony arrests to be reported on background checks for seven years after release from prison. Felony convictions can be reported as far back as the employer chooses to go.
There are several states that do not allow the use of any case older than seven years whether there was a conviction or not.
Twelve states restrict reporting information on any case older than seven years. These states include: California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Texas, and Washington.
Many employers check only five to ten years history when hiring applicants.
The exception for reporting a conviction is when felons have had their records expunged or sealed at the time of the background check. These records would not appear on a background check after seven years.
Regardless of any felony history, it is important for felons to be honest in disclosing any conviction. If they are no and the background check reveals a felony, their chances for employment are gone.
Disclosing felony convictions provides felon the opportunity to explain their situation and describe the circumstances of their crime.
Depending on the nature of the crime and length of time since the conviction, felons have the opportunity to present their case.
The reality here is that most applications ask if the individual has been convicted of a felony in the last 7 years. If the answer to that question for you is no, then fill out “No” on the application. You aren’t lying and you aren’t hiding your felony conviction, you’re simply responding to the question accurately.
If they end up running a background check later and really like you as a candidate, it’s more than likely that they’ll see the felony, but you’ll be able to explain the circumstances.
If you aren’t sure what will show up on your background check, we highly recommend that you click here to run one on yourself to see what comes back.
How Far Back do Background Checks go?
Generally speaking, background checks will go back 7 years for most background check agencies. However, there are some agencies that will go back as far as 10 years. This is less common for regular companies and more common with government agencies. If you’re looking into being employed for a federal agency of any type, it’s very possible that the background check will go back for as long as your criminal history.
That said, the length of how far the background check will go really depends on where you’re applying.
Supporting a Felon when a Felony Shows Up After Seven Years
For families of felons who have a felony, encourage them to be honest and ready to answer any questions about the charges.
Their best opportunity when concerned about a felony being reported after seven years is to have their record expunged or seek a pardon if they are eligible.
Being prepared for these types of issues when applying for a job and having a background check can prevent problems later on.
Be there for them and be honest with them in this situation. Help them tell the truth and give themselves the best opportunity for success in their new life.
After all, honesty is the best policy for all concerned.
So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felony will show up after seven years? Have you or someone you know had a felony show up after seven years? What was that like and were they successful in dealing with it? Please tell us in the comments below.