Screening for Arrest Records vs. Conviction Records

Imagine, for a moment, that you are conducting an instant background check on the perfect potential volunteer or contractor. Everything is going perfectly, until you discover that your prospect has a hit on their criminal record. It’s always shocking to discover a negative mark on someone’s history, but before you dismiss them as not criminally suited to work for you, you probably want to consider the difference between an arrest and a conviction.

Under US law, people don’t have to be guilty of a crime to be arrested, there just needs to be a reasonable belief that they may have broken the law. In many cases, people are falsely accused of crimes by family or former partners, and in others, they are the victim of circumstance, or just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Difference between arrest records and conviction records. 

An arrest record is not definitive proof that someone broke the law. It simply indicates that there was a suspicion that they may have. Conviction records, on the other hand, are created when a suspect has gone through the legal system and been found guilty of a crime in a court of law. They may also have confessed or settled out of court.

Again, even conviction records are not definitive proof that the person in question did commit a crime, just that they were judged guilty by a court of law. They are a stronger indicator of criminal liability though, and they definitely carry more weight.

Screen for what matters most.

You may think that you need to know everything about a candidate’s history, and there are certainly things that you do need to discover about potential new hires. Sometimes hiring managers delve too deeply into records that don’t necessarily have bearing on a position, however, and discover things that they don’t need to know and that complicate the hiring process.

As an instant background check, FedCheck only shows the information that you care about when it comes to screening volunteers, vendors, or pre-screening potential employees for arrest records. Figure out what really matters to the position you’re looking to fill. Unless an arrest record will affect the work, don’t allow it to muddy the waters. It will save you a lot of potential trouble and may help to ensure that you don’t exclude the ideal candidate on a technicality.

Handling arrest records. 

Screening for arrest records can be a good indicator into the person you are hiring to volunteer at your schools, complete a contracting job, or pre-screen for full-time potential hiring. It’s not against the law to exclude candidates from the hiring process, provided you treat everyone equally. Accord to US law, you are not guilty of discriminating against candidates based on negative criminal history, so long as you treat all candidates the same.

That means that you cannot exclude one candidate of a particular group but allow another one to continue in the process. This includes anybody with an employee criminal record.