Can Schools and Employers Check Your Criminal History?

Can Schools and Employers Check Your Criminal History?

Yes. When you apply to go to a school or for a job, schools and employers consider many different factors. One of those factors is your criminal record. Schools and employers can check your criminal history. And, as technology improves, they may know more about your past than you think.

Can schools and employers check your criminal history when you apply?

Yes. There is no law that stops schools and employers from checking your criminal history. And most schools and jobs will do at least some form of a background check. In addition, they can search for your record online. They can also check court records and even hire investigators.

There may be a lot of different things that show up in a background check. This depends on how and why someone conducts the background search. Most of the time, they verify information that you probably already provided.

  • Social Security number
  • Driving record
  • Criminal history
  • Work history

In addition, some background checks might include other information. They might check your medical history, education and finances. You may even agree to these types of background checks when you apply to a school or job.

How much will employers find when they check your criminal history?

The level of background check really depends on who is doing the search and why. Many background checks search records for the past seven years. So, if you have an old felony conviction, a school or employer might not find it. But it’s also possible that they will. You need to consider that when filling out the application.

Driving-related offenses will show up in a background check, too. That includes drunk driving. In fact, they might even show up twice: once in your driving record and a second time in your criminal record. If you apply for a job that requires driving, having these offenses on your record could be a big problem.

Employers and schools will probably check your criminal history.
Image courtesy of AndreyPopov via

What happens if you get your record cleared?

If your record is sealed or expunged, many checks won’t find your record. This is a good thing — and the point of getting your record expunged or sealed. You can even answer “No” on the application when it asks about your criminal record.

However, some schools and employers can still find expunged and sealed records. So can some investigators. Therefore, while you can deny having a record, it may not be the right choice. Some employers might prefer that you answer honestly. That can be true even despite the sealed or expunged nature of the record.

Schools and employers can also find records of arrests. They can also find pending charges, dismissed cases and more. Even if these charges were wrongful or false they could still show up in a background check.

The Takeaway:

Schools and employers can check your criminal history. When you apply to go to a school or for a job, there could be a background check that includes your record. New technology means that they may know more about your past than you think.

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