If companies were asked "Do you perform criminal checks on job applicants”, most would answer “yes”. An affirmative answer, however, does not guarantee that all convictions are being uncovered. Here’s why:
Different crimes are held in different places!
It’s a little known fact that a criminal record may ONLY be found if the correct court is checked, because different crimes are held in different places. Maintaining and organizing criminal records is the responsibility of each individual state. Every court has its own method of recording and storing the arrest and conviction information. Codes and terminology are not always standard. Not all states allow the information to be compiled into one place.
Most companies run a county criminal search in the county the applicant resides, and maybe a nationwide criminal database search. This sounds complete, but one very important piece of the puzzle is being left out:
The Federal Criminal Search.
Federal Court is an entirely different animal than county or state courts, AND federal information is not included in any of the nationwide databases.
These records contain the crimes logged in the U.S. Federal District Court for criminal charges in a specific US district.
The US is divided into 90 federal judicial districts. Each district is divided by boundaries. Federal criminal charges are initiated by the government, usually through the U.S. attorney's office in coordination with a law enforcement agency.
This is the “Martha Stewart” court. The arrest and conviction of Martha Stewart would not show up in the county or state of NY files, because she was arrested and convicted in the Federal courts.
Examples of federal crimes are mail fraud, drug trafficking, civil rights violations, credit card fraud, bank robbery, immigration issues, kidnapping, embezzlement, etc. Federal charges can only be found with a federal criminal search, they will not show up anywhere else. These are charges that a company does not want to miss!
It is advisable to add a federal criminal search to your criminal search process. Missing them could increase a company’s risk of hiring a candidate who is dangerous to the security of the workplace.
~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 24 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.