How Long Before an Arrest Shows up in an Employer’s Background Check?

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UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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Written By: Jeffrey JohnsonUPDATED: Jun 29, 2022Fact Checked

A new arrest can show up on an employer’s background check within 24 hours of the arrest. Although your case may be resolved without a conviction or dropped, there is still likely to be some record of your arrest. All it takes for your arrest to become public record is for an entity to make information about your arrest public.  

There are a number of locations where your arrest record will appear, such as the local clerk of court’s database. An employer can perform his own criminal background check by checking the database to see if you have an open case and a recent arrest date. Employers can also view the booking records of the local jail. They can call the sheriff’s office, police department, probation office, or another law enforcement office directly to ask for information. 

Employers frequently check arrest records by purchasing public information from a third party, a criminal records database company. These companies usually look for court records with your name across different states and federal registers. They package them and sell them to employers requesting a background check or criminal background check.  

An arrest is not a conviction. The State has not proven you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An employer can still deny you a potential job opportunity based on an arrest. A current employer has the right to fire or suspend you from a current job for an arrest. If you are fired or suspended from a current position because of an arrest, you must determine whether the employer’s action was reasonable. 

For example, if you were arrested for driving with a suspended license and you work as a graphic designer, the firing might not be reasonable because the charge is not related to the tasks of your job. If you were arrested for driving under the influence and you work as a school bus driver, the firing is likely to be reasonable. Your job relates to driving a large vehicle. It is expected that the public will be safe when this vehicle is on the road. It is expected that children will be safe in this vehicle under the driver’s care. It is likely that your license will be suspended or revoked while the case is pending. It is foreseeable that due to the arrest, you could be incarcerated or lose your license for a long period of time. Either or both of these things would make it impossible for you to continue to fulfill the duties of your position.  

Consider consulting an experienced employment lawyer if you feel a suspension or firing was unreasonable. Your attorney will look over the facts of your case and determine whether the firing or suspension was reasonable. An attorney will also look at whether you can expect to get your job back or receive monetary damages.  

In some states, employers cannot use a third party, such as a background checking service, to investigate potential employees without notice. This is because of the proliferation of inaccurate data. The most common error in criminal background checks or employer’s background checks is mistaken identity. In cases of mistaken identity, persons who have never been charged may have the same name as a convicted offender. There can also be errors if an expunged offense in criminal records has been noted and published by a criminal records database company before the expungement.  

If you believe you may have been denied a job opportunity or suspended or fired from a current job based on inaccurate information, contact an experienced civil attorney. They will evaluate your case. They will help you determine whether you have grounds for a successful lawsuit against the criminal records database company in question.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

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