Why County Criminal Searches Remain a Must

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Negligent Hiring. Sexual harassment. Workplace Violence. Theft. These are issues that concern you everyday. Companies lose billions of dollars each year hiring candidates with criminal records or deviant behavior traits, which makes performing criminal background checks absolutely essential in the hiring process today. How complicated is it though?

In a world where data is becoming more accessible and less expensive to receive, many companies opt for using criminal databases to perform standard criminal background checks. Why wouldn’t you? Databases are fast and they offer more aggregated search information than local searches. But, are they providing you all of the information that you need?

Frequently understood today is the value of county criminal searches. While databases serve to broaden the net of your search, they often are not FCRA compliant, based on the timeliness of their data and the absence of multiple states from their network. To ensure FCRA compliance, and to be certain you are getting the most up to date information, it is important to run a county criminal search.

The Scope of a County Criminal Search

County criminal record searches in the U.S. are available in all counties in all 50 states. These searches expose state police arrest records, suspended sentences, dismissals, probation and incarceration records. These searches can be made available for the 5-,7-, or 10- year period prior to the employment background check, depending on state and industry of employment.

County criminal searches are gathered from the primary source and contain the most current information available. A standard county search includes both district and superior court searches. Databases are only used if they tie directly to the court and provide the identical quality and timeliness of information that a physical researcher would obtain at the courthouse.

Companies should perform county criminal searches on the current county of residence at a minimum to protect from potential negligent hiring suits. Upon company discretion, county searches may be extended to perform a more thorough search on any counties identified in the Social Security trace, credit history, education history, employment history, or other sources.

The Importance of Comprehensive Data
While the county criminal search does provide the most up to date information, one limitation of this type of search is that it reveals known records only in those counties searched and may not reveal crimes an applicant may have committed across state borders or outside the home area.

To broaden the scope of your criminal search, the addition of a national criminal database search should be considered. Criminal database searches may not include the most up to date records or cover all states, but they can be an effective source for locating criminal activity outside an applicant’s home area. To be comprehensive in an employment criminal background check, at a minimum, a compliment of a county criminal search and national criminal database records search should be included. International criminal and sanctions databases should be applied when applicable.

The data you receive prior to hiring an employee may be the best opportunity you have to protect your company and people from an unsavory workplace environment. Make sure that you have all of the information needed to make the hiring decision by leveraging the most comprehensive data available.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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