Gorski Law
Pennylvania & New Jersey Consumer Rights Law Firm
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Criminal Records

Information about criminal record history on background checks with discussions of common types or error associated with criminal record searches. Discussion of various harms that can be causes by criminal record search errors and how Gorski Law can help by resolving the error and obtaining compensation for any harms that occurred.

CRiminal Record History

Criminal records are by far the most commonly requested item of information on a background check, so much so that "background check" has almost become synonymous with searches for criminal record history. Almost every company that sells background checks will offer the option to search for the candidate's criminal record history.  Criminal record searches can be national in scope because certain companies have created their own databases compiling criminal records from around the country.  Searches can include felonies and/or misdemeanors. Some background check companies are also capable of searching for criminal records outside the United States in certain foreign countries.  Juvenile records can sometimes be included in a criminal search, but not always. There is also no limit on the age of a criminal record appearing on a background check.

Mismatches Of People With Common Names

More often than not, a criminal record search does not involve a person physically going to a courthouse to search for criminal records. The records usually come from searching databases that companies have created for criminal records or from searching court websites that allow electronic searches of criminal records. Because of the way this information is obtained,  you should not immediately assume that a criminal record appearing on your report that does not belong to you means that the court records are showing that your have a criminal conviction. The problem almost always is that background check company has improperly matched you with another person who may have a similar name. People waste countless hours going to courthouses to try to solve this problem, but the real solution involves disputing the inaccuracy with the background check company.

Problems With Expunged Records

A criminal record that has been expunged should never be on a background check. Sometimes people believe that a record was expunged when it has not. Checking with the attorney who handled your criminal case or with the court will provide you with additional information to confirm whether the record was expunged or not. 

If a record has been properly expunged, the problem lies with the background check company for failing to update its criminal record database. Many times background check companies enter criminal records into their databases without adequate procedures to recheck the records for expungements or to procure expungement data from courthouses.

Problems With Misreported Criminal Records

Another roadblock people run into with criminal record searches is that the report will misreport the status of a criminal record.  Common transcribing errors with criminal records include:

  • failing to recognize a charge was dismissed which should not be reported;
  • reporting a misdemeanor as a felony;
  • reporting the wrong charge;
  • reporting the wrong date of conviction.

These problems again are not problems with the court's files.  They are problems caused by errors when entering the information into the background check company database.

Criminal Records Can Affect Your Ability To Obtain Employment 

To date, there is no outright prohibition on employers from denying employment to a candidate who possesses a criminal record.  That said, some employers hire individuals with criminal histories. Other employers also allow certain types of criminal records such as misdemeanor offenses.  Certain federal, state and municipal laws require employers to consider a variety of factors when considering a criminal record including: the age of the record, the type of offense, whether the candidate has multiple offenses, the candidate's work history post-conviction, the candidate's references, the candidate's rehabilitation efforts, the job requirements (e.g., working with children).  Some municipalities have also enacted laws commonly known as "ban the box" which prohibits a potential employer from considering a candidate's criminal history on the employer's initial application.

Errors Involving Criminal Records Are A Serious Problem You Should Not Ignore

If a background check contains a criminal record that does not belong to you or is being misreported in some respect, you should not ignore this problem. Minimally, you need to contact the background check company to dispute the erroneous items on the report. You also may want to consider speaking to a lawyer.  Criminal record errors can cause numerous harms including:

  • delays in processing your employment application;
  • having your employment application rejected;
  • causing you to be terminated from your current job;
  • being denied an apartment or other rental property.

In addition to these injuries, an erroneous criminal record reported about you can adversely impact your reputation and cause substantial emotional stress.  All of these harms are compensable under the law, but you are unlikely to receive any compensation without help from a lawyer. If a criminal background check about you contains errors like those described above, Gorski Law may be able to help resolve the problem and obtain compensation for you.  Initial consultations are always free. Call 215-330-2100 or email the firm to schedule a consultation.