If you are applying for a job, a loan, child custody, or something else that requires a background check, it is important to make sure that you know what they are going to find when they run the check.  If you have mistakes in your past on your criminal record, you should understand what charges will and will not show on your background check.  Along with that, it is important to understand whether or not the check will reveal warrants.  Our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers explain what shows up on a background check and how to check for warrants in New Jersey.  If you need help removing a warrant or seeking expungement of your criminal record, call our law offices today to schedule a free legal consultation.

What Shows Up on a Background Check?

A background check reveals details about your criminal record.  Any arrests, charges, and convictions for crimes could appear on this check – along with any pending warrants – but the results of a check will differ depending on who runs the check and how they do it.

Typically, the person seeking a background check will hire an outside firm or ask a specific department in their organization to run the background check.  When they do so, they might ask for specific limitations to the check.  Typically, this may mean asking only for “felony” convictions.  That means that the person running the check might find more information – such as convictions for lesser “misdemeanor” offenses – but they might not report these findings if they were not specifically asked to.

On other checks, they may ask for convictions for “crimes.”  In New Jersey, only serious felony-level crimes are called “crimes,” and other lesser offenses are known as “disorderly persons offenses.”  If the check is for “crimes” only, it might not report disorderly persons offenses.

If the checker runs a full, comprehensive check, they will likely find all arrests and charges – whether they are still pending or have already resulted in a conviction.  They may also find warrants.  The criminal record itself might not always include information on pending charges, arrests, and warrants, but checking court records should show this information.

If you have a warrant out for you, this likely happened because of a failure to appear in court.  That means that there are already charges filed against you and pending in court.  These pending charges will usually show in a court records check, so whether the background check reveals the warrant or the pending charges, you could “fail” the background check.

The two things that typically do not appear on a background check are traffic offenses and expunged crimes.  Typically, no one except police, prosecutors, and the MVC can see your driving record unless you give express permission for someone else to get your records (or you give them the record yourself).  Moreover, if you have a crime expunged from your record, information about the offense will not appear and your employer or whoever is running the check will not be able to see these issues.  However, that does not stop them from asking about convictions for DWI, other traffic offenses, or expunged crimes.  Talk to a lawyer about how to answer these questions.

Can Employers Run a Warrant Check?

The more direct way to find a warrant is to run a warrant check instead of a background check.  When people say “background check,” they typically mean a check of your criminal record, which, as we’ve discussed, may not include court records or your driving record.  People can also run a warrant check to specifically look for outstanding bench warrants.

Court records can show outstanding bench warrants and other pending charges.  Typically, you would have to look at these records for each possible jurisdiction, since each court has its own records.  If that is too difficult of a task, the background check might just skip a warrant search.

If law enforcement runs the check, as is common for jobs in law enforcement or government work, they will typically be able to find pending warrants.  In fact, these warrant searches may even reveal warrants from other jurisdictions – i.e., other counties or even other states.

The question of whether an employer or any other entity can run this check usually comes down to what you give them permission to do and what records are public records.  Many applications will include a portion where you explicitly agree to let them run a background check on you, and that may describe the parameters of the search and what kind of information you give them permission to look up.  If you agree to let them, they can look up any information they want.  Moreover, since court records and criminal records are usually public record, your employer does not necessarily need your permission to run your name through a records search.

Call Our Background Check and Bench Warrant Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation

Because employers, loan advisors, colleges, and other entities can find this information, it is important that you talk to a lawyer about what will show up on your record and you work to expunge old crimes and take care of pending warrants.  Our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers can help you take care of outstanding bench warrants, fight pending charges, and expunge old crimes from your record to help you seek employment, loans, and other benefits.  For a free legal consultation on your case and help clearing your criminal record and court record, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at 609-616-4956.