Why a Federal Criminal Records Search is an Essential Part of Your Screening Program
How a Federal Criminal Records Search produces results that other records searches may not uncover.
Hollywood might have you believe that those looking to check someone’s background can simply pull up a complete dossier on any individual, complete with photos, legal and financial records, all known associates, and a wealth of other information -- all available at the stroke of a keyboard.
The reality is pre-employment background screening isn’t that simple.
How Federal Criminal Records Can Be Easily Overlooked
While many crimes in the United States are prosecuted at a state level, they may often be tried at county- or municipal-level courts, with the county or municipality serving as keeper of that criminal record. These records are typically found during county criminal searches. In some jurisdictions, counties will share an individual’s record with the state to house in a state repository, making those records discoverable through statewide criminal records searches. Statewide results may then consist of records from any applicable counties in the state.
Yet federal crimes, such as those that involve federal law or are committed on federal property, are not heard in county or state courts; instead, those charges are brought forward in federal court. There will generally be no record of these crimes at the county or state level, meaning they likely won’t appear in county or even statewide searches.
These are crimes that many employers may not be able to afford to miss when conducting a background screening. Federal crimes can range from white-collar crimes like fraud, embezzlement, healthcare fraud, and identity theft to such acts as kidnapping, drug trafficking, illegal firearms sales and purchases, and the sexual exploitation of children.
That’s why some companies opt to conduct a Federal Criminal Records Search. Using our integration with the U.S. PACER federal criminal record system – which can be customized to include some or all of the 94 federal districts -- this search can help to uncover certain federal criminal histories that may be essential knowledge for potential employers.
In days past, companies often only conducted Federal Criminal Records Searches for C-suite employees. With people in these roles being granted broad access that could facilitate white-collar crimes, it seemed natural to apply a more thorough search to C-suite candidates. Later on, similar thinking was applied to employees in IT positions: Given their potential access to extensive company information, it would be prudent to verify their criminal backgrounds to the fullest extent.
The Threat to Healthcare Organizations
An emerging trend in healthcare corporations is an uptick in criminal record checks, including federal criminal record checks, for their all of their candidates. Where many organizations may have overlooked this particular screening in the past, that practice has drastically changed as hospitals, nursing homes, home healthcare providers, and other healthcare organizations seek to prevent or defend against potential negligent hiring litigation claims.
By relying solely on county and statewide criminal records searches healthcare organizations, like other employers, risk missing federal criminal records on their candidates’ initial pre-employment background screenings.
Adding a Federal Criminal Record Search can provide additional pre-hire knowledge that could be invaluable to hiring organizations, from those in the healthcare field and beyond.
Learn more about HireRight’s Federal Criminal Records Search.
Release Date: March 30, 2023
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.