What to Worry About for a Pre Employment Background Check. 2014

Looking for a new job and worried about a pre-employment background check?

You are not alone. Finding out what negative information about you is available to potential employers early may prevent the loss of a valuable job offer.

Here is a breakdown of the main types of “background checks” employers typically use, possibilities for corrective action, and info on how to Do Your Own On Line Background Checks.

There is no standard “Background Check” that all employers use. Employers may use any number of methods and sources to do a “background check”. And the laws on background states vary from state to state, and even from occupation to occupation. Thus, it is important to understand the terminology of what you may be asked to consent to when applying for a job.

“Background check” is a common term used to describe any one or a combination of reports collected about individuals for employment purposes.

The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets the national United States standard for employers who want to find out more about an applicant or current employee and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The technical term used by the FCRA for a collection of “background check” data is a “consumer report,” defined as “…any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living….”. (15 USC §1681a(d)(1); See also PrivacyRights.org)

In general, the FCRA has a seven-year rule as the limit for reporting negative information on an employment background check.

A list of the FTC rules on employer’s collection and use of a Consumer Report for Employment purposes can be found on the FTC Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2004/11/041119factaapph.pdf

For California employers, the legal term for a “background check” is defined by law differently. In that jurisdiction, it is called an “investigative consumer report,” which includes information about a person’s “character, general reputation, personal characteristics,” but does not include information about creditworthiness.

If an employer hires an outside screening company to check a job applicant’s background, California Civil Code section 1786.16 requires a written notice and consent for the report. (See CA Civil Code sec 1786.16)

A screening company, called an investigative consumer reporting agency or IRC in the law, must have the employer certify that the report will only be used for a permissible employment purpose.

Can job applicants get a copy of their background check results? Generally, yes.

A consumer who requests a copy of a report from a screening company should get it within 3 days after the employer receives it. The report should also give you the name, address, and telephone number of the person or agency that conducted the background check. The law gives you the right to correct and explain inaccurate information in a pre employment background report.

Driver History Reports Often Used by Employers.

Driver History Reports are used frequently by employers to determine many things such as: a) is the applicant a legal driver?; b) does the driver history report show signs of drug or alcohol abuse? c) can the applicant be insured to drive company vehicles, or operate a vehicle while on duty?

In California, Driver History Reports are produced by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  They typically list: a)  court convictions that involved a vehicle (such as DUI or failure to appear for traffic ticket); b) DMV actions against the license (such as a points suspension); c) list of addresses the DMV has for the driver; d) date of birth; and possibly more detail.

"Why do I have to sign?"

“Why do I have to sign?”

You can check your own driver history report in advance.  If you have failure to appear problems, you can take care of them in advance. Sometimes quickly. Get help. But convictions that are listed on the DMV Driver History Report are generally there for good. There is no way to remove a record from a conviction from DMV records.

Use of Credit Reports Drastically Restricted in 2012.

“Consumer Credit Reports” are different than consumer investigative reports. COnsumer Credit Reports are alleged bill paying and financial history reports on an individual that are collected by private companies. They may include information (accurate and inaccurate) about a person’s debts, assets, and wealth, and living standard, and shopping habits, political beliefs, religion, marital history, marital status, health, address history, etc.

Recently, the use of Credit Reports by employers to screen potential employees has grown quickly.  But so has opposition to the practice based upon the idea that a person’s bill paying history has no bearing on their ability to work now. It is an unfair measurement of nothing, used to suppress the poor, say the haters. Many states have either limited the use of credit reports in the hiring process, or are in the process of doing so.

California is on the leading edge. A new Labor Code section for 2012 dramatically limited the ability of employers to use the Credit Reports for employment decisions. The law is CA Labor Code 1024.5, and it prohibits the use of credit reports by employers unless the use falls into a listed exception to the law.

The new law was signed by the “energizer” Governor Jerry Brown, who has always been a strong consumer advocate. The law actually states:  “An employer or prospective employer shall not use a consumer credit report for employment purposes unless . . . ”

The exceptions generally apply to positions that deal with a lot of money, assets, or high level of trust, such as authorization to transfer company or client funds between accounts.  They actually make sense, and the new section 1024.5 is expected to drastically reduce the use of credit reports in California employment screening.

At least 6 other states have similar laws, including Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland and Connecticut. – See more at: http://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/california-joins-states-restricting-use-credit-reports-employment-purp#sthash.CxXTtB5k.dpuf

Take a copy of the law with you to the interview if you want.  An employer must give you notice if they intend to use a credit report in the hiring process, even if it is legal.  You have a right to an exact copy of what the employer sees, at the time they get to see it.

Criminal Background Checks or “Investigative Consumer Reports”.

Criminal history checks are a common screening tool used by employers.  They are referred to by state and Federal Law as “Investigative Consumer Reports”.

Adult criminal convictions are generally a matter of public record, and anyone can look them up if they have the energy and time.  There are many different levels of a criminal history check, including local courts, state courts, and federal levels.

Infractions Generally Do Not Appear In Criminal History Reports.

In general, job applicants do not need to worry about violations that are classified as “Infractions”. Most traffic ticket offenses are infractions.

An Infraction is technically not defined as a crime in CA, and carries only a fine as punishment. Because infractions are not crimes, a defendant only gets a limited right to contest an infraction. The court can convict a defendant of an infraction even if the defendant never shows up. This is not true of crimes where more extensive Due Process Rights exist to protect the innocent.

In general, a job applicant does not need to disclose the fact that they were found guilty of an infraction (such as speeding) to an employer. Infractions are not proof of a bad character, and are not crimes of moral turpitude for employers.

There are some exceptions were an infraction may be considered a crime of moral turpitude for the government. For example, an infraction petty theft conviction can cause immigration problems.  You have to read the application you are filling out very, very carefully to see if it asks you to disclose infractions.

Juvenile convictions are generally sealed by the courts and shielded from public viewing.

Arrests that Do Not Result in Conviction or Where There is a Pending Criminal Case.

California law follows the FCRA’s seven-year rule as the limit for reporting negative information on an employment background check. But there are differences. Under CA law criminal convictions can only be reported for seven years unless another statute allows a longer period. Under the FCRA, criminal convictions, once they happen, can be reported indefinitely.

California has a ten-year limit for reporting bankruptcies in pre employment screenings, the same as the FCRA. (See CA Civil Code 1786.18)

Misdemeanor Convictions and Felony Convictions Are Reportable.

Misdemeanors and felonies are different than Infractions. They are crimes, and generally must be disclosed to a potential employer if the applicant is asked. Such convictions will appear on background checks and can cause disqualifications. Anyone can look them up by going to the courthouse.

What About Current Probation?

Probation is generally a period of court supervision that is granted in place of a jail sentence. Probation usually includes a limited time period (months or years) and terms that are court orders the defendant must satisfy. Active probation periods will appear on a background check and can cause disqualification.

Outstanding Warrants Are a Common Cause of Job Applicant Disqualification.

When an employer discovers a job applicant has an outstanding bench warrant or arrest warrant, generally, it is cause for disqualification of an applicant immediately.

Technically, when the court issue a bench or arrest warrant for a person it means they are a fugitive from justice – which is not a good trait for employment applicants.

From the employers point of view, they do not want to hire someone and worry that they will be arrested and miss work, or worse yet, be arrested at work. Clearly, diligent employers prefer applicants without pending criminal court problems.

When there is a warrant problem, some employers will give an applicant some time to solve the problem.  If you are in that situation, ask for time to solve the problem, and Request a Free Attorney Case Review from TrafficCourtPros.com.

The Employer Must Give You Notice of What They Will Use.

California law requires that employers tell applicants what personal or private info they will be collecting and using in the hiring process. (See California Civil Code 1786.16(a)) The government has published a sample disclosure form for employers, which you can review to get a sense of what notice you are entitled to.

How To Find Out What Information Is Available on You.

Knowing what is out there will help a job applicant prepare for the disclosure, and may allow corrective action before the employer makes a disqualification. Here is how to get the info yourself:

1. You can do your own Instant Background Check and get a copy of your Driver History Report.

2. You can check with the court where you know you have a problem.

3. If you believe you may have a warrant or missed a court date, you can contact the local county sheriffs office to do your own warrant search, or call the court clerk where your case is located. Some courts and sheriffs offices allow warrant searches on-line.

4. You can find warrant and case information on anyone on line in counties such as Ventura, San Diego, Orange County, and many others.

Visit TrafficCourtPros.com for more free warrant search resources.

What Types of Background Problems Can Be Corrected?

Expungements Can Clear the Record of Some Convictions. Some misdemeanor convictions and non violent felony convictions can be “expunged” – which means removed from if the courts records.

To get an expungement, you must petition the court for termination of probation and dismissal of the case. State law determines which convictions can be expunged, and generally the court requires that a defendant have proved himself or herself rehabilitated from the criminal behavior.

An application for an expungement commonly takes 60-90 days, but can take longer depending on the court. Probation can be terminated early in some cases where the defendant has stayed out of trouble for most of the probation period. Request a free case review to get more info on this possibility for a specific case.

Bench and Arrest Warrants Can Be Cleared In Court.

Misdemeanor Warrants can generally be fixed fast if the Defendant takes voluntary action.  There may be consequences, but the warrant part of the problem can often be fixed quickly if the defendant gets the case back on track.

In most misdemeanor cases, an Attorney can go to court for a defendant to handle common warrants on DUI cases, driving on a suspended drivers license, petty theft, probation violations, etc.

In serious misdemeanors, or felonies, the defendant must appear with or without an attorney to clear a warrant. And of course, jail time is always a possibility when there is a warrant.  But taking action voluntarily maximizes the chances of a no jail result.

Question about this article? Post a comment and we will try to respond with useful info.


California Labor Code section 1024.5

California Civil Code 1786.16(a)

Privacy Rights Clearing House Fact Sheet 16a

Secondary Sources:

Significant Changes To California Employment Law Effective January 1, 2012 (Brian Cave, LLP)

Related Articles:

1. What is an Expungement?

2. How to End DUI Probation Early

This entry was posted in Background Checks, Correctable Violations, Expungements, Missed Court Dates, probation, Warrant Information and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

222 Responses to What to Worry About for a Pre Employment Background Check. 2014

  1. Confused Student says:

    Most of these questions discuss criminal offenses, but what about issues handled by University Judicial Affairs? If my friend received a displinary warning from judicial affairs while in school but otherwise has a clean record both in and out of school, how will this warning affect him on security clearances and background checks? I cannot seem to find information on how college judicial affair’s warnings are perceived during a background check, however everything I have read said this information is released on background checks. As well, would such a warning be treated the same when the 7 year information check is considered?

    Thank You Very Much.

  2. Tim says:

    I was given a verbal job offer subject to a background check. I had a DUI from 2005 expunged so I answered all questions as though the DUI never happened as provided penal code. Then I learned that DMV still makes my DUI record available. If they check my driver’s record, it will look like I lied on the application. I don’t see any other choice than to call the employer and let them know I had a DUI and explain why I didn’t inform them on the application. They likely will check my driver’s record, right? What’s the feedback on this, is a DUI a job killer?

    • Tim,

      An expungement in court does not affect California Department of Motor Vehicles records in my experience. A driving under the influence suspension and history of arrest will appear on DMV records for 10 years.

      Anything you can do about that? Nope. Not really. Maybe someone out there has an idea?

      Get your DMV driver History Report today. You can do it online. Be prepared for whatever is there.

      Will your employer check your DMV driver history report? I have no idea. They might only care about things within the last 5 years, and whether or not you have a valid drivers license.

      What would I do? First off warn you that my ideas might be wrong. But if this were me, I might just wait and see what happens. You are not the first person in this position. 2005?

      If they asked me for details, I might just say: “I have no criminal convictions. I have a valid drivers license. You’re talking about confusing DMV records from 2005. I have no information on that subject.”

      And then, in the back of my mind would be the words of a wise man:

      “Pancakes only need to look good on 1 side.”

  3. Heather says:

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    “What to Worry About for a Pre Employment Background Check.
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  4. teresa says:

    once a background check has been started, if i run into court to get my warrant recalled is it possible it will not show up? does it go off right a way?

    • Teresa,

      If a judge recalls a warrant, it gets recalled immediately. You will not be arrested in the parking lot on your way home. Now whether or not that happens before your potential employer discovers it, I dont know.

      What you should be worried about is avoiding jail, not perfecting a background check. Focus on getting into court immediately (or hiring an attorney immediately) to deal with the warrant and the threat of jail. Everyday you wait makes it harder to get a no jail result.

      How fast a warrant can be recalled depends on the county, and the charges that lead to a warrant. For example in San Diego, a typical failure to appear bench warrant on a DUI is something I might be able to clear up in 1 day by fax. No, kidding, I have done it many times. (But I am an experienced attorney).

      In Santa Clara County, they require 2 days notice before a warrant recall hearing.

      In other counties, such as Sacramento, if a defendant with an arrest warrant shows up at the courthouse, the court will send them to the Sheriff’s Office to be arrested and given a court date if they can be released immediately. (Sometimes that is fast way to get a warrant recalled.)

      But remember once a warrant is recalled, there is still an underlying case to deal with. For example, if you have a failure to appear warrant on a typical DUI case, you can get the warrant recalled with some quick smart action. Then after that is done, you still have the DUI and failure to appear charges to deal with, even though there is no active warrant.

      Bottom? Go to the courthouse now or hire an attorney to do it for you, regardless of what job you want.

  5. teresa says:

    will my active arrest warrants show up on a pre employment background check?

  6. John says:

    To whom it may concern:

    I have a ride a long tomorrow for a route sales position driving a company vehicle. I have one DUI 9.5 years ago, as well as one 11.5 years ago. The company has not asked yet about my driving record. I believe I am the only candidate they are interested in. I am in California. I know the 2nd DUI will show up on my DMV report, but will I also have to mention the 1st DUI which is completely off my DMV report? I wasn’t even asked on the application about misdemeanors, just felonies which I do not have. The company has not specified on the application how far back they want to know about tickets or DUIs. Please help. What do I disclose or not disclose?

    • John,

      I’d say get a copy of your driving record and prepare to show up with it in your hand.

      Then put 10 marbles in your mouth, go to the bathroom, stare at the mirror, and repeat these words:

      “I dont remember beyond that. I dont remember beyond that. That was the 80s, I think. I dont remember.”

      Rinse, Repeat as necessary.

  7. Katrina says:

    So I had a background check ran in 2013. Apparently in 1998, I wrote a bad check and the court entered a plea of guilty the amount owed currently was 217.00. The company had closed in 2001 where the check was written. I was told I had to pay the amount in order for the charge to clear. This was in the state of PA. IS there a limitation on this?

  8. Ricardo Espinoza says:


    I got a misdemeanor DUI 13 years ago in LA County. I wasn’t really sure if it was still on my record, so I checked the LA County public records online, and it didn’t appear…only a previous charge of driving without a license that was dismissed, appeared. Does that mean the DUI is off my record if someone performs a background check?


    • Ricardo,

      Just because you could not find it on line in the LA County on line “records” does not mean that there is not a permanent record of a criminal conviction.

      If you want to know if there is a public record of your conviction, contact the criminal division court clerk’s office at the court where you were convicted to see if they still have a record of your conviction. If so, it can be found.

      a 13 year old DUI conviction however, cannot be used as a prior offense against you in court.

      DUI convictions remain on a CA DMV driver history report for 10 years.

  9. Amber says:

    Hello. I was arrested in early 2012 for a Misdeameanor DUI in California. I was innocent, but because I had no money to hire an appropriate attorney and my desire for the case to be over to continue my employment search, I accepted a plea bargain. The prosecution proposed a plea deal of dismissing the DUI charge if I pled guilty to an infraction for disturbing the peace 415(1)pc with a $100 fine (which was paid immediately). I accepted.

    I am currently in process of being hired as a state employee, which requires a live scan from both the DOJ and FBI. I know my arrest will show, I am just worried i won’t clear the criminal record clerance required to work for this specific state agency (its not a security clearance, only a criminal record clearance). I won’t be driving at all (clerical), but the company is part of the business, transportation, and housing agency. Besides this, my record is has no other blemishes as well as my driving record.

    My question is do you believe my arrest will affect my job offer? Can the state government legally use arrest records not pertaining to the job as reason not to hire me? Lastly, since the agency is state government, will DOJ/FBI report everything to my potential employer? Or do they only report “reportable” information pertaining to the position at hand? Thank you.

    • Amber,

      I believe an employer can use arrest records as a reason to reject a job applicant. A smart employer would never tell you that was the reason. They would just sent you a rejection letter of about 2 sentences.

      Here you have an arrest record, but no criminal conviction.

      Can you get those arrest records sealed? Probably. Probably too late now for this job.

      What I would tell a client if I had one with this problem would probably be: Just be honest. You were charged with a crime. It was dismissed because you were innocent. The end.

      What happened with your drivers license? The DMV action against a drivers license is independent of the court’s records. If you did not challenge (win) the drivers license suspension, your DMV record will show a DUI arrest and subsequent suspension for 10 years.

      How could an attorney have helped? Even a public defender would have pushed for “complete dismissal of everything, no freakin 415! That is trash. Proof they have no case. Want a 415 mr prosecutor? how about a weekend pooring over toxicologist reports for a trial you are going to lose? Is your boss going to be happy about that? 415 my ass!”

      A skilled attorney (getting paid for the work) would have also advised you on the possibility of getting the arrest records sealed.

      The 415 is not a big deal on paper, because it is an infraction – but that may have been the one thing that prevents a sealing of the arrest record. But I cannot tell for sure.

      OK – this useless info is not totally useless to everyone.

      • Amber says:

        My driver license was never suspended nor did the DMV have a hearing. I had a Public Defender, but he was inexperienced. He felt an infraction for 415(1)pc was the best deal and that I should take it. My PD also told me my ability to obtain employment wouldn’t be affected at all by this incident. I believe if I had money to hire a different attorney, my case would have been thrown out. I will look into getting my arrest sealed, if possible.

        Thank you for your time.

  10. Chris Steinberg says:

    My wife and I were cited with VC 15620-leaving a child under 6 in a motor vehicle. Ticket showed infraction and non-correctable offense. We were not arrested and we are given a court date 2 weeks from now. Will this show up on our criminal background check and is this reportable to the board of nursing when we renew our license since we are both nurses? Please advise.

    • Chris,

      This is a good question.

      I cannot tell if your alleged violation is charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction.

      Misdemeanors are crimes. Infractions are not crimes.

      Misdemeanors can, in many, many cases, be reduced in court to infractions.

      Many violations always start as misdemeanors, and then always get reduced to infractions. For example, Vehicle Code section 40508(a) states super clearly that a violation is a misdemeanor crime. But this fact is often ignored, and the 40508(a) violation for many people who do things right is reduced to an infraction.

      Vehicle Code section 12500(a) is another classic example. The Vehicle Code says it must be a misdemeanor. And many courts will tell you that it can be nothing else. Other courts? Different County? different time of day? Court doesnt want you to have the right to a public defender? INFRACTION! chaaaaching!

      Courts prefer infractions when possible, because it means they dont have to …….

      no… wait… I cant say that.

      Anyway, the point is that even if it is listed as a misdemeanor to start, it can resolve as an infraction.

      Do you have to report it to the nursing board? That is not a question I would dare to answer for free. If you want my answer to that question, you’d have to hire me to defend the case and research all of the possible outcomes in relation to a nursing license so that I could give you accurate advice on that super important aspect of your case.

      My advice? Protect your career by hiring a quality criminal defense attorney to do real work for you.

  11. latisha says:

    I’m currently waiting to hear back from the airport in south san francisco I did the back ground check on june 5 2013 and I called today and the told me I cleared one part of the back ground check now they are just waiting for my (CHRC) to come back I have been convicted of misdemeanor but not a felony nor of anything on the criminal history sheet on the app. I do have out of state court fees that has not be cleared
    does that matter

    fingers crossed I hope I get the job

  12. PeteM says:

    I was accused of petty theft 13-14 years ago. My lawyer had the charges dropped, however due to some minor damage to an boxed item I was convicted of trespassing. 3 years latter I petitioned that my case be dismissed and expunged. The court approved the motion. This incident took place in California. I have had a couple jobs after this incident. I am now applying for a new job and I am somewhat worried about the background check. What should I be concerned with if anything.

    Thank You for your time

  13. Zack says:

    Also, I forgot to mention as well if a job ask me have I ever been convicted of a crime in the last 7 years, do i rightfully put in the box no or yes? and undoubtedly that would depend on what the background check say’s because of the release date from probation.. It all seems like a catch 22.


    • Zack,

      I cant really answer your question. But I can tell you a few things:

      In CA, Assault is a crime, not an infraction. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony.

      Probation and Parole are completely different things. Dont confuse them.

      Parole is generally a program of law enforcement monitoring following a prison term.

      one last thing – prison and jail are not the same thing either. People get them confused a lot.

  14. Zack says:


    In 2005 I plead and was convicted of assault in NJ, and was release from probation in 2008. NJ is a very hard state to find a job (as is most) so I was thinking about moving to California. If I move to CA will I be eligible to not have this infraction show up on my record? Some places I read say strictly 7 years, however other websites word the law after release of parole. Thank you for your help.

  15. Bella says:

    I have several questions?

    Job offer in health care field administrative dept., passed all the tb, physicals, fingerprints but they withdrew job offer (I was to start Mon. quit my job all ready they told me I’d start 8-4 mon.) background check had me flagged? due to their insurance criteria. I worked there 12 years for 3 yrs. married left. job came available in Jan 2013 applied….accepted in march. I have diabetes, and high blood pressure? They say I’m high risk? No one will explain this to me? What is stopping me in getting the job?

    Do I have the right to ask for a written document showing me why I was not being hired for the position I applied for?

    • Bella,

      I do not know where this is. I would say that you should make a written demand to see everything they used or relied upon for the so called “Background Check”.

      What if they were looking at the records of a different person, with similar name? What if they illegal used information they gained from listening to your cell phone calls? What if they illegally barred you because they found a picture of you at a Morman Church on facebook?

      If they denied you employment based upon an illegal criteria (race, religion, sex, gender) or if they used an illegal source of info (private emails they captured, credit report without your consent) you can sue for damages – compensatory damages, punitive damages, and statutory damages. Maybe a class action? How many people’s private voice mails did those “newspaper reporters” break into again?

      If they dont give you the information, and you have reason to believe there is evidence of illegal activity in your file with them, or in their emails about you or in their browsing history about you or in their recycling box about you, you can sue and use the court’s subpoena power to compel production of those documents prior to trial.

      What? Dont you need your evidence before you sue someone for discrimination? No. You collect evidence after you file the law suit during the “discovery period”. What if you sue and there is no evidence? Dismiss the case. Send the defendant an apology.

  16. James says:

    In 2000 I was convicted of Burglary, Criminal Mischief, and Theft. Since that time I have completed probation, paid off all fines and restitution, and as of January this year my record has been completely expunged.

    I recently applied for a job with eBay and passed their assessment’s and interviews with flying colors. My concern is that the company they use for background checks may not have an updated database since the time of my expungement. If the company they use still reports the outdated information what can I do?

    Thanks in advance for any advice you might have.


    • James,

      This is a great question. I do not have an answer.

      I can tell you that it is super, super unlikely that a “Background checking company” maintains their own databases of criminal records. I’m pretty sure all they do is check publicly available court records, straight from the court or law enforcement records, just like I do to people everyday – for free – on the internet. Except for those places where the courts do not allow the public free on line access to criminal court records (Santa Clara, etc).

      Just make sure everything on your application is true. Be ready to defend yourself with records and proof.

    • worries says:

      Hi James.

      My girlfriend is in a bad situation. She has an interview with eBay next week but last weekend her ex made a false accusation that she assaulted him. He dropped the charges but the county has a mandatory prosecutions. Do you have any insight.

      • James? James is the criminal. Burglary. Theft. You want advice from him? I wish you luck.

        I can tell you this: a victim of a crime is not in control over whether or not a person is prosecuted. Victims dont “Press Charges” – that is a total untrue myth. In any crime, a prosecutor can decide to move forward with prosecution even if the victim does not cooperate.

        What the prosecutor is probably saying here is: “I have all the evidence I need for a conviction, with or without the victim’s cooperation.”

  17. tonya says:

    hello…does a employer do education back ground checks i didnt finish high school, am trying to finish my ged.and i’m looking for work now can i not be hired do to this? thanks…tonya dinis

    • Tonya,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I think what you are really trying to say is:

      Can I be denied employment because I have not finished high school?

      The answer is: Yes. Definitely.

      A person who does not complete high school or GED in the US is basically screwed for life. I encourage you to work harder than you ever have to get it done immediately. Time goes by fast.

      Were you asking:

      “If I lie about completing high school when I apply for a job will anyone find out?”


      I do not know.

  18. nancy says:

    Hi Sir,

    First, good afternoon. I didn’t put two previous jobs I had, the first one, I only work there for 6 months and the other one for 1 month. And also, I got a wrong dates on my other job 9 years ago. Is that gonna be a problem???
    Thank you so much and God bless!


  19. Jasmine says:

    My husband has been trying to apply to companies and has almost been hired, but has been denied employment due to job termination history. He has been terminated from three jobs. Is there anyway that he can clear the history? What can he do to be considered for a job despite the terminations?

  20. vanessa krampitz says:

    I had a dwi back in 2007. I got the charge dismiss for the criminal record. But on the administrative side. I was found guilty. Criminal record comes out clean but on my driving record it show that my licenses was supspend with alcohol involved. How do I answer questions on a job application?

  21. Connie says:

    Hello Christopher,

    I’m currently working as a temp. at a large company. I was arrested for shoplifting at a store a few months back. My supervisor just informed me that there is a permanent position available within the department I’m working in right now and they are interested in hiring me. The judge for my case was willing to reduce my misdemeanor petty theft to a infraction if i plead guilty to the misdemeanor. After completing community and showing proof in court, it will be reduced to an infraction (which won’t be till next year)

    I’m afraid of what will show up in the background check. My lawyer told me that I have nothing to worry about, but I’m still extremely worried. Before working as a temp. at this company, I interviewed for another company and was offered the position. After going through a background check they recanted the offer (I’m assuming because the case was still pending). Now that my case is no longer pending, what will they see on my background check? My lawyer told me they will see absolutely nothing as far as my criminal record. The arrest itself, he said, is public record so they may or may not see that.

    Thanks for taking the time out to help, any insight is greatly appreciated.

  22. Jenn says:

    Hi, over 10 years ago I had gone through a diversion program to for a theft charge in the state of AZ. To my knowledge, the diversion program was put in place in lieu of being convicted of a felony. I was told that I was not ever actually convicted. My problem is, that the charge keeps appearing on my employment background checks, and this is obviously posing a problem. Since I went through the diversion program and was not actually convicted, is there a way to get this off of my background report?

  23. steven says:

    what if I got my dui when I was 17 and I’m now 18. I currently working o.n getting it sealed by completing 2 courses. An employer had called me and told me I got the job, I just have to finish some paper work and go through a back ground check. Will my juvenille dui still show up? What do you think the outcome would be as to whether or not I get the job. Its just a sushi restaraunt opening.

  24. steven says:

    what if I got my dui when I was 17 and I’m now 18. I currently working o.n getting it sealed by completing 2 courses. An employer had called me and told me I got the job, I just have to finish some paper work and go through a back ground check. Will my juvenille dui still show up?

  25. Patricia says:

    Hello Christopher!

    Thank you for your time in advance!

    My boyfriend (20 years) received a misdemeanor for possession of marijuana in the state of Texas in 2010, he has not violated any law since then. Since the beginning of 2011 he has been trying to obtain a job but has had no luck or call backs. He blames it on his past criminal record, is he right? Could this really be affecting him and will affect him for the rest of his life?

    THANK YOU! Whatever you were to reply would be greatly appreciated since I don’t know what to do or what he should do to motivate himself on trying to get a job.

    • Hello Patricia!

      Thanks for writing.

      Wow. Hum . . . Starvation and lack of sex didn’t work?

      Sadly, I must report that I am not qualified to answer this question. If I tried, my wife would start screaming at me about being a hypocrite, because I sit around in my pajamas all day insulting people using the internet. I am doing that now, while watching sports center.

      I doubt simple pot possession would prevent most job opportunities. It might ruin a bus driving career. Probably not a construction career.

      But I am qualified to offer some self reflexive critical analysis for pure entertainment value.

      Everyone spends time unemployed. I know that because I got fired from my first job as a paperboy when I was 13.

      If you dont get any bites in the morning, you have to start changing things. You change the bait, change the line size, change the location, change the presentation. Keep changing until you get a bite and/or find the fish. Then you start focusing in on those fish. And eventually, in the evening, you catch a fish.

      Ditch the man’s program if you can. Get off the grid.

      Can he write? Any passion for some subject other people love or hate? You know, you can make money writing on the internet in your own time. You can write about anything if you can get people to read it. People make money writing. People make money selling stupid self help videos and exercise routines. Start a free blog at wordpress, use clickbank.com (it works), sell our forms, maybe … might be bad advice.

      Check Payloadz.com for a way to sell videos he makes.

      Then there is always Ebay. My friend Alan from the O. made a chit load of money selling Iraqi playing cards and ancient, unsorted roman coins in packs of 3 from a tiny house 1 block from the beach. In the end he hated ebay. We lost track of him, his beach house empty. Last we heard he was in Amsterdam chasing Trey and all was good.

      If you dont get that joke, it’s ok. It’s half true, and not meant to be really funny.. Those glory days might be gone with Bush the Crusader, but the next slinky is one click away. Think outside the cubicle if you have free time.

    • Boyfriend of 20 years? Or 20 yr old bf? If its the former – put a ring on it. If its the latter, trade up. A 20 yr with a misdemeanor…quite a catch.

  26. jessica says:

    i have a question,i recently got hired at a restaraunt and worked there for one day and got suspended b/c my manager said she needed to do a background check on me b/c i have been to prison.i went for 16 months for dui and fleeing and alluding,driving on suspended license.a few years ago i got caught up with some stupid ppl and got arrested for armed robbery w/ a deadly weapon(caulker knife),i didnt get convicted for it…so i was wondering if it would come up on the background check,and should i be worried about the dui?

    • Jessica,

      Prison? DUI? Alluding, fleeing? Robbery? Sounds pretty bad. Yes, you should be worried. Especially if there are other people without a criminal record that want your job. You are probably going to be summoned to the dredded “Meeting”.

      There are real long term consequences for that kind of criminal behavior and I think you are feeling that now. Hopefully you did not lie on your job application.

      You need to find a way to counter act the bad news about your character with some proof of good karma and honesty.

      I am struggling to say something positive here. What do you have to show that you are now a productive member of our society? What do you have to show that you are a different person? Bring it with you when they invite you to the meeting.

      PS: I like how you blame the “stupid ppl”. Might want to forget about that part of the story, no matter how true it is, and be ready to accept responsibility 100% at the “meeting”s – now and in the future.

  27. christine says:

    I was wondering if employers can find out past jobs even if I do not add it on the application? And if so will they even check?
    About a year and a half ago I stopped showing up for work, I was wondering if it would be best to just not add it to my past work experience or be truthful about it since they might find out about it anyways?

  28. Austin says:

    Thank you for the answer.

    This just happened and I have no representation as of now. You gave me some good questions to ask. I will call the number they gave me for the diversion program and ask those questions. “By undergoing the diversion program, do I plea guilty or no contest?” Maybe go out on a limb and ask, “With respect to my case, will there still be a record of the ordeal or will it be completely removed?”

    After that, I will tey to find free legal advice quickly and see what they recommend or have experienced with similar cases in AZ. Only THEN will I have my parents get their attorney involved. I’d like to get the facts to make an informed decision on that.

    I have until Monday of next week (20th). Is it logical that I can do this in one week?

  29. Austin says:

    I read about 100 questions hoping I would find my answer and not waste your time.

    I just recently got charged with obstruction of justice in Tempe AZ (Section 22-6). They offered me a diversion program since it is my first offense.

    Upon completion of a diversion program in Tempe AZ are all charges dropped and I will have NOTHING on a background check? Or am I just not convicted and the charge will remain?

    If you don’t know the answer for Tempe, what is usually common? Thank you so much in advanced.

    • Austin,

      Unfortunately, I am not qualified to answer your question. Maybe some other AZ Attorney out there wants some free advertising by answering for you.

      I can guess.

      One problem with the question is we do not know exactly what kind of background check you are asking about. Can the FBI look it up? Probably. Can Bank of America? I dont know. I guess what you really want to know is whether or not there is a public record of a conviction on that case?

      You can figure that out by actually going to the court and looking at the real court file. See what’s there. Maybe no file at all?

      And then there is the question of whether it was a “post conviction” dismissal program, or one where you were allowed to not enter a plea at all – and then it was dismissed without a conviction (guilty plea or no contest plea).

      That is really a detailed question only someone familiar with your case could answer with complete certainty. Did you have an attorney’s help? If so, call them. Tell them to explain it to you. Pay them if you have to.

      This is one example of why it really makes sense to have a quality Attorney to represent and defend you on a criminal case. You have a criminal case problem and you are not really sure what happened, or what the long term effects are. Whoever represented you has a legal duty to explain what happened to you in detail and make sure you understand.

      • Kristle says:

        I was arrested and charge on a felony for a possession of a weapon and never convicted….if the background check is run through the doj/fbi, yes the charge will appear….it is a shity thing but yes it will show…

  30. SJC says:

    Hello Christopher,

    I have a question regarding employment background checks. My husband attended an arts college last year, and didn’t continue his education due to interference with work. He only took two classes, and they relate in no part whatsoever to any law enforcement position. Due to a miscommunication between the school and the VA, the entire bill wasn’t covered and the school says they didn’t get his loan acceptance paperwork. Long story short – he now owes them a large bill and they refuse to release his transcripts until the bill is paid in full, which is nearly impossible as he’s now unemployed. However, a new opportunity has come up with a local police department, and he’s in the process of applying. However, if he puts down he attended the school, they’re going to demand his transcripts, which he cannot provide because the school will not release them. The classes have no bearing whatsoever on a police-type job, and are not being used in place of any training or experience for the position. If he leaves the school off his application, will they be able to find it in a background search? Thank you so much!

    • SJC

      The only thing I can say about this is a description of my own life. Sorry.

      I once dropped out of San Diego State because I had no money. I owed them a lot of money due to bad checks. I ran away. Then I enrolled in another junior college, and had to drop out because I was busy riding a bike in Europe. I failed a chit load of classes, owed everyone money. Transcripts were locked up, and ugly at the same time.

      I didnt tell anyone about those places. When I finally got to a new university, UCSC, after 3 months they found out about the other schools and demanded my transcripts from those schools. I did not have the money. I wrote the deadline down on my calendar as “[S]hit Day”. At the time I worked for the university doing some chit no one else could figure out. I begged my boss, Gesna Clark (wonderful woman), to approve a 2 month advance in my pay. She approved it, and I talked the admin people into waiting for the transcripts. By the time the transcripts with Fs arrived, I had already finished the first quarter with perfect scores.

      The end

  31. Robert Moorhead says:

    My question or comment is more general. I am retired (from the public sector) and am concerned about all this so called background checking (live scans, credit, medical, divorce(s), etc) by employers — for whatever their perceived value may be (real or imagined). What does all this say about our “corrective” justice system? What does it say about the employer? The implication is that it is (or they are) a failure! If employers are allowed to collect this information on pre-applicants, then they should be required to collect the same info on their current employees and make the same knee-jerk action — discharge the employee (some companies to this with both pre and random post employee drug testing — perhaps that is at least more equitable). Of course, the irony is that they know they would soon have a shortage of employees and become a dysfunctional company. When I was going through the government school system, we were told that if you messed up with the so called “law” you paid the fine or did the time and you were square with society. Currently, it is my perception, that people get “branded” for life and that the so called “corrective action” must not work. Consequently, why bother with the fines and the public cost of prisons if you are not going to allow people to rejoin society, with a “clean slate,” and be productive citizens once again? By “branding” and ostracizing individuals, because of past mistakes, it forces them to join the underground economy and ultimately undermine the economic and social “fabric.” Hence, leading to additional decline of this great country. How did things get to this current sad state of affairs? I would be very interested in hearing your comments. Unfortunately, the true “corrective action” requires prolonged political intervention. This in turn requires “government” to make more rules and regulations to control employers (and others). However, since “government’s corrective” judicial track history has failed to give “offenders” a “clean slate,” then we (as a society) are not improving but going the opposite direction. Something needs to change/improve and soon. By the way, it is sad to hear so many attorneys making money off of this corrupt system — especially when they are part of the problem.


  32. Lauren says:

    I was hired and about to start work when the background check came back for a misdemeanor back in 2006 in Missouri for a bad check of $26.00. I had no idea about the check, the bench warrant, or the misdemeanor, as I moved to Washington State around the same time. I contacted the prosecuting attorney’s office and paid for the bad check and fee, and they dropped the warrant. I asked if this would clear the misdemeanor charges and they said that they didn’t know how that worked, as they only deal with warrants. Any advice on where to go from here? I can’t afford an attorney. Should I pay to have a background check on myself to see? I’m not sure which to use if I do. If the misdemeanor shows up, can I have it removed? Thank you for any advice at all. I have been doing my own research but getting nowhere.

    • Lauren,

      This is a good question, but unfortunately, I am not qualified to answer. Maybe there is a Missouri Attorney out there who will answer. If there is, it is free advertising for you – including a hyper link to your web site.

      • Lauren says:

        Thank you. I contacted an attorney locally and he said that it is no longer showing up. Thank you for the reply and best wishes to everyone else.

  33. Abigail says:

    I still have my “county dej program referral and enrollment form” which states “the county district attorney has determined that you are eligible for the DEJ program. If you choose to enroll and complete the program, all charges filed in this case against you will eventually be dismissed…” I looked on the county superior court website case index and found mines stating it is dismissed is there anything I can say or do when i go to a court clerk to rid this Off my record and background checks because I have no luck getting jobs with people seeing this :(

    • Abigail,

      Sounds like you have the beginning paperwork, but not the ending paperwork. It is the ending paperwork you need. There is not enough info here to answer your question. It may be too complicated for a free blog. It would probably help to actually hire an attorney to help you accomplish your goals if possible.

  34. Abigail says:

    First off your crazy for answering all these questions I have yet to see someone answer all of their readers questions but anyways thanks in advance for answering mines :)

    In the state of California I was given a citation for petty theft in 2010 and went to court and had a post conviction and plead guilty then was given a chance at a diversion program then got the case dismissed and now I am wandering how can I get this off my record? Is it possible to file for a nondisclosure with a court clerk to clear my dismissed misdemeanor?

    Also if asked on a job application “Have you ever been convicted, pled guilty or pled “no contest” to any misdemeanor in California or any other State? Do not include marijuana related offenses that are more than 2 years old” do I answer yea or no according to the fact I have a dismissed misdemeanor?

    • Abigail,

      This is a good question. You are really not sure what happened at the end of your case. This is one of the reasons why it is important to have good legal help when you are in trouble – so that there is an expert to explain things to you.

      Unfortunately, I cannot tell what is there from here. If you got diversion, and the court allowed you to withdraw your plea after you completed diversion, there might not be any record of a conviction any more. Maybe you do not have to do anything.

      What you need to do is go to the court in person, go to the court clerk, check out the court’s file on the case, and see what is there. Or check the paperwork the court gave you at the last court date. Or call the attorney that helped you with the case.

      If there is still a record of a misdemeanor conviction, that is a real criminal conviction. YOu can petition the court to have the case expunged, but that will take at least 60 days and require the help of an attorney that you need to hire..

      If this were a petty theft case with a permanent conviction – in a county that I like to work in – I would probably charge about $1500 to do the petition for expungement.

  35. Nervous in MN says:

    In 2006 while driving my wife’s vehicle to work (with her consent), I was t-boned at an intersection by another vehicle. North and South bound traffic were clearly stopped as I crossed the intersection going from East to West. The other driver was heading South bound when he struck me right behind my left passenger door causing me to do a complete 180. My car was totaled and his had not a scratch. The police on the scene deemed no one was at-fault because it was my word against his word regarding whom had the green light. My wife’s insurance took care of our claim and the other drivers insurance took care of his, as it was a no-fault accident. However, I was then issued a citation for driving without a valid drivers license (didn’t have one at the time, and no learners permit either). I paid the $130 fine/fee via mail, and that was about it. I am wondering if this will show up in a background investigation check done by police departments (possible future career), and immigration services (permanent residence seeking naturalization as a U.S citizen). I will disclose the info out of integrity and honesty nonetheless, but was just curious. Thank you for your time.

    • Nervous,

      I am not qualified to answer your question. So I will tell you how to answer it. Forget about the auto accident. That info is not relevant to your question.

      You included all sorts of useless info, and left out the most important info: What were you convicted of? You told what you were cited for, but not whether it was an infraction, misdemeanor, or some kind of non criminal civil penalty.

      Figure that out, figure out what violation you were convicted of, and you will answer your own question, Young Jedi.

  36. Concerned parent says:

    My child (20 yrs old) was pulled over and they found a pipe to smoke pot and a very small amount of pot. He was handcuffed and read his rights but then he was let go without taking him to jail. He received a ticket for the pot & pipe and also for having 2 different license plates on his car. We got an attorney and the ticket was knocked down to a traffic violation and he had to pay a fine. Will the traffic stop show up on a background check since he was not convicted and/or taken to the jail?

    • Concerned,

      You have to ask the attorney who helped hi that question. Not enough detail on the exact conviction here. Remember: Driving records and criminal records are different things. Some employers want to check both.

  37. Jaysee says:

    Hi I am 19 & I live in Florida.What if I was convicted of a misdemeanor / petty theft, but the company allowed me to pay a fee to drop the court charges, and I was not fingerprinted. Will this appear in a background check?

  38. maureen says:

    a prospective employer in New York found information on a sealed case and are requesting the case be unsealed…my lawyer advises against this…can an employer deny an employee the position after offering the position, based on the refusal to unseal the case?…a certificate was provided by the court clerk verifying that the case was closed and sealed.

    • Maureen,

      I have to congratulate you for writing the best question, ever. Wow. What a good question.

      I wish I could answer. I am not qualified to answer that. I want to, but I have no idea what to say. Maybe some other attorney out there with that knowledge can help us here?

      Someone probably actually has to look that one up.

      • Employlaw says:

        No they cannot legally take their offer back since the case is sealed. You should have your lawyer contact the company because a sealed record should no longer be public information. Plus, the EEOC has specific directives as to how background checks should be used regarding employment.

        • Employlaw,

          Nice! Finally someone else to answer questions. I cant answer them all. Sounds like good info. But why no link? Why no details? What is the EEOC? What effect do the EEOC “Directives” actually have in court? Write a blog article! send it to me. You can have the ad revenue if it is good. I’ll be we can get $0.45 a day from it for a year.

  39. Lisa says:

    Hi what a fantastic site!

    Here’s a Back-Ground-Check-Question For You…

    If you have a CA drivers license and move out of State to KS and get a new KS driver’s license, and then a KS Police officer pulls you over and runs your driver’s license (not plate)…….will your CA driving history appear on his KS computer monitor, and if so, what information will the officer be able to see?

    If your social security number appears on the Police computer, what information will be mentioned underneath the SS#? Will it just note your SS#, or will it discover and reveal all types of info?

    Is there a Back-Ground-Check an individual can get that discloses their health history records? A friend of mine was pulled over and the Police ran her driver’s license and just so happened the Police Officer had the volume of his radio turned all the way up and the next thing she (and everyone else in her car) heard blaring over the Police officers radio was that she had a history of mental illness. She was very embarrassed and explained to all of us siting in her car that 10 years ago she lost a family member and she became very distraught and was committed to an institution for a short while.

    So now she want’s to do a Back-Ground-Check in order to get the Same Information of her health history record the Police had, and then try to clear it off her record.

    She’s also Really concerned if an Employer runs a Back-Ground-Check on her driver’s license or SS#, will they be able to find out about her health history? : (

    She already knows about The Freedom of Information Act but she doesn’t know which State or Federal Agency she should contact. : (

  40. LT009 says:

    Great info, Thanks!
    I am a legal resident in the US, I applied at the casino as cage cashier, got a group interview with the hiring manger Jan. 17, the next day they sent me an email for Background Authorization Request. Haven’t heard anything yet. I just have a few questions.
    In the education part of the application form, I stated that I went to college and did not graduate. In my CV i accidentally typed the years from 2000 – 2003 instead of 2000 – 2004, I provide the dates (M/D/Y) but I didn’t remember the exact date anymore because that was 7 yrs ago. Do you think it will be a red flag if the dates didn’t match? Is there a way I could explain that to them?

    Second, are credit reports included in the background check? I just check my credits and it was 580 and I have 1 derogatory record for $58 from my hospital that I didn’t know of. I also have a State Tax Lien that just filed Nov 21, it is a joint from my husband and we already paid for it a long time ago but they still filed it.

    Will this affect me from getting hired or even considered for the job? I am really worried and I am still positive,. Please help.

    Thanks much!

  41. nervous job applicant says:

    Hi, I am a little nervous about being considered for a job but then if they run a background check and see i have court superivision in Illinois for a dui, could they say no to me? I know its not an actual conviction of it but I get worried that I won’t be able to find a job because that will affect their judgement of me…which was an unlike me mistake.

  42. Amy says:

    Hi Christopher,

    Will the reasons that I was fired from a job show up in a background check? There were no charges or criminal activity involved, but I am wondering if on any sort of background check, specific reasons for being fired would show up. Thanks!

    • Amy,

      No, the reason(s) you were fired do not show up in background checks. But if your new potential employer calls your old employer as part of a background check process, and the old employer tells the new employer why you were fired, then . . .

  43. charlene says:

    I recently quit my job after I was investigated for stealing 6000 in cash. I admitted to the theft and am paying the company back. I’m concern about what my employer will say to companies who will call about my job and reasons to why i quit. i made a mistake and I just want to go on with my life. Can they ruin me?

    • Charlene?

      Can they ruin you?

      You admitted to committing Felony theft, and provided proof by starting to repay the victim, and you want to know if they can ruin you? Hell yes. Can they prevent you from ever getting a job again in the same industry? Hell yes. If you are not a US Citizen can they totally screw up your immigration status? Hell Yes. You can go to prison for that. And if you admitted it, I dont see a defense for you. UR Screwed if they pursue criminal charges.

      What’s the good news? You might already be ruined, aready hit bottom, and there might be nothing but clear skies ahead for you.

  44. anni says:

    Can a background check company call you and say they think they see something in my name and they are trying to check and see whatcount and what year I had been convicted. The background check came back no record found but I still had my job offer rescinded due to a attempted retail theft and a uuw in 1989 that I disclosed. Is it legal for them to call me and do that? They lied because nothing was even on my record.

  45. Annoyed says:


    I am a nursing student and need to have a background check in order to be admitted to the program. I worked for an employer about 2 years ago that was just a husband and wife. I decided to quit when things got really shady with them. I had my own laptop I used while working and deleted some personal files before I walked out. They ended up filing a report for Class A felony-computer tampering. They really try to scare every employee that leaves on thier own terms. I knew I was innocent, and they eventually closed the investigation (laptop was sent to a forensic specialist) early so they could get thier computer back (ha!). So, I called the police department and they said the computer had been returned and they closed the case and it is inactive. What does this mean for a background check? Will it show? I am really worried because of the field I am in and that it looks awful. I have never been arrested or charged for it and its been about two years. Am i able to get this off there completly? Do you know if they can reopen the case to try and investigate now? I am working on filing charges against them for a few things and I want to make sure they won’t try and retaliate and keep this open which will prevent me from getting into the program.

    Thanks for answering!

  46. Jennifer says:

    I was arrested 3 years ago for not following a court order (family court) short storyis false aligations were made and at the time it was better and safer for me to be arrested then for my son to go with his biological father. Later in court all was dropped cause I proved to them aligations were false HOWEVER becasue I was arrested I have been told that it will forever be on my record. so now I am trying to get a job care giving for the elderly and I have to get a live scan; will my arrest stop me from persuing a job in the elderly caretaking business?

  47. WORRIED says:

    Hi there,

    My question is I was arressted for assualt and battery around easter in 2010 on 2 cases one as dismmissed immedialty and the other was dismmissed after good behavior for 6 months which has now passed will these show up on a pre employment background check since they were dismmised. This is the sate of VA. Thank you.

    • Worried,

      Your question is really way too vague to give a detailed answer.

      Was it a pre conviction dismissal, or post conviction? “Good Behavior”??? WTF. Good behavior in prison?

      Background check? what kind? Then one wall mart does? Or the one the FBI does? Or the one the local school district does? Or the one the IRS does when they are looking for you? Or the one the cops do when they pull you over?

      My point is that there are many different levels of background checks. Convictions are public records. But pre conviction dismissals generally do not show up because you were not convicted of anything. However, if they are looking at your ARREST records (like the cops do when they pull you over) it will show up.

      My advice? Figure out exactly what background service your potential employer may do, and pay someone to do it on yourself first to review. Nothing wrong with that.

      Or, look at your court paperwork to see exactly what happened. Conviction? No Conviction?

  48. James says:


    First let me say I LOVE YOUR SITE.

    I have a weird situation (I think)… Recently, I was offered a conditional offer for a 65k job that I REALLY WANT. But it’s contingent on my passing the background checks. I have ZERO convictions or arrests. My worry is, I live in California and have a valid CA driver license. But I’m from Utah, where I also hold a drivers license. Last year I drove thru NV where I got a speeding ticket. I gave the officer my UT DL for the ticket. I never paid the ticket. Recently I called UT and my DL is suspended. But my CA License is fine.

    My question is will this show up on the background check? I’m not sure if it’s a warrant. I never responded to the ticket. The background check is pretty serious, it was a Live Scan Fingerprint check. I gave my SS# name and all my info, BUT gave my Valid CA DL#.. any thoughts?

    Thanks for the site…and info.

    • James,

      It’s a good question, but not really. You already know what I am going to say.

      I know what you want me to say: “Oh – just ignore it. No need to contact the court in NV. No one really talks to UTAH anyway.”.

      Eventually, I would expect CA to suspend your drivers license here to honor the UT suspension. State to state suspensions are common now, and getting more common by the Macintosh minute.

      You need to contact the court in NV to check the status of the case. Was there a warrant issued? Did they add a criminal charge for a failure to appear? Are you considered a fugitive from justice?

      Here is what you need to do: Stop writing to me, and find that NV court and get in touh with them to learn the status of the case. If you have no idea where to look, call the UT DMV people and get them to tell you what the address of the court is. Then do a google search for that address. Call the court clerk, find out of an appearance is mandatory or not. If not, just pay today. If you have to appear, hire a local attorney to go for you. Or get on a plane.

  49. Cindy says:

    I was arrested and charged with a misdomeaner for petty theft in the state of California. It was later reduced to a petty theft infraction, which I plead guilty to. It has been 1 year since my conviction and I am in the process of expunging this arrest and conviction.
    My questions are:

    Since I was arrested and the initial charges were misdomeaner charges, will this show up on my background check even though the ultimate conviction was an infraction?

    I just graduated and received my BA, do you think this conviction will affect my chances at getting an internship?

  50. Joe says:

    Hi, Christopher.

    I just received a job offer in Colorado pending a criminal background and driving record check.

    I currently have two open traffic warrants in Nevada for failure to appear on speeding tickets. I’m worried these two open warrants will cost me the new job. Also, I am unable to obtain a Colorado drivers license due to the Nevada warrants.

    I don’t have the $3,500 to satisfy the fine associated with the warrants. I would be able to make installment payments on the fine once I get the job. Is there a way that I can clear this up quickly? Would Nevada lift the hold on my drivers license so I can obtain a Colorado license if I pay in installments?

    I feel like I’m in a catch-22 and don’t know what my best option is.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    • Joe,

      This exact problem was the whole reason Traffic Court Pros.com and Traffic Court Blog.com were created.

      You have 3 choices:

      1) pay in full what they claim you owe then . . . . .

      wait! Oh crap. Did you say “warrants”? Crap.

      You actually only have 2 choices normally when there is a warrant. Usually, a warrant will require a personal court appearance by the Defendant, or in many misdemeanor cases, by an attorney retained by the defendant.

      I actually need to point out here that I am not qualified to answer this question i NV, so I am going to pretend you are in CA, which is nearby – at least in some areas.

      The 2 choices are:

      1) go to court yourself in person on the cases starting tomorrow at 8:00. Go to the court clerks’ office(s) tell them you are there to take care of a warrant case(s) and ask for a walk in appearance on the cases. They wil give you instructions from there;

      2) Hire a licensed attorney to do the work for you.

      Now of course, any time there is a warrant there is a possibility of a jail sentence. And an attorney cannot do the jail time for you. If jail is required, or if it is a serious case where the judge will not allow an attorney to appear alone for you, then your personal appearance will be required. Monday morning at 8 am.

      Check with the courts to see if there is anyway you can just pay off the cases (is there a personal appearance required?).

      Best Option: Request a Free Attorney Case Review, and hire a private attorney.

      Will warrants be a reason for a potential employer to reject you per se? Hell yes.

      Any time a court has issued a warrant for you, it means you are a fugitive from justice. It is a court order to law enforcement that says (in effect): “This person is a fugitive and the court want to see them ASAP. Please go get them, involuntarily if necessary.”

      So, picture yourself as a bank manager. You need to hire some one. You know your boss will fire you if any employee steals anything. If anything goes wrong with your bank office, you are the one who is going to get punished. In that situation, would you hire a fugitive, or someone else from that pile of 150 resumes?

      But, if your career aspirations are more in the _______________ range (i inserted that blank to avoid complaints . . . fill in your own joke there) – it’s ok to ignore it.

      When warrants get issued it is usually because the person has missed a court appearance – not because a person did not pay a debt. Getting into court solves the warrant problem usually. In CA. Sometimes.

      • Joe says:

        In your experience, will the court work with me on a payment plan to satisfy my debt with the court. As I said above, the main problem I have is that I can’t afford to pay in full. Would the court be willing to work with me on paying the fine in installments? If so, generally, how does that work?

        • Joe,

          Generally, yes, a court will help you with time to pay a fine as long as you show up in court in person and ask for more time and tell the court why you need it (good cause showing).

          Can you do it over the phone and expect a good result? NO
          Can you do it by mail and expect a good result? NO
          Can you do it on the web and expect a good result? NO
          If you wait until after the deadline to do something can you expect a good result? NO

  51. Shie Uemura says:

    Hi, i had my self run with employment and background checks and was satisfied with the result as i have no convictions at all. Now, can i show these as part of my requirements in finding a job? Can this be an additional point for me?

    • Shie,

      Are you asking me if you can bring your own background check print out with you to a job interview? I guess so, but I would expect the employer would tell you: “Thanks, but no thanks, we will do our own check.” (if they do checks).

      Will taking our own background check print out with you to a job interview give you extra points over other applicants? Is that what you are asking?

      Extra points . . . well, I’d say no, because most people do not have criminal convictions. It would be kinda weird to say: “Hello, I’m Shie. I am not a criminal.”

      I’d recommend that you just act like a normal person, and now that you are prepared you know exactly what to write or say IF THEY ASK YOU.

  52. At a loss says:

    I am hoping you can help me make a decision. A year ago, I was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. I hired an attorney for my court appearance. The police officer that issued me the citations was illegal during the search in multiple ways – there was no protocol or solid evidence the marijuana and paraphernalia were mine. Therefore, the judge “dismissed all charges” and I was not convicted. I did not realize at the time that not-convicted charges still were on my record. I am obtaining a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction and am applying to counties for a teaching job.

    My question is – can a public school system deny me hire for a non-convicted drug charge? Would I have a chance to defend myself? I am in the process of getting it expunged, but this could take up to 4 months in my county in Virginia; should I wait the 4 months until it is off my record to apply to school systems, or am I hiring material as is right now?

    Your advice is greatly appreciated!!!

    • At a loss,

      What you are really asking is this: will charges that were dismissed result in denial of employment as a teacher in VA?

      I dont know for sure. But no conviction = you are presumed innocent.

      You need to check with the agency that issues the licenses there and ask about whether or not you have to report arrests for detentions that did not result in convictions.

      I think you will not have a problem if there is no conviction. But the police and FBI, and CIA, and secret service, and INS and all of those government agencies will have access to arrest records and unproven charges.

      Crappy answer? Sorry. I just dont know. Want your money back? Click on one of the ads, and hit the Back Button.

  53. Poor Undergrad says:


    I was charged a misdemeanor for petty theft almost a year and a half ago in California. (trying to take textbooks from campus bookstore) When I went to court I was offered to take a life changes class for about $400 and to file my fingerprints. I did so and the case was dismissed but I did plead guilty. I want to apply to a bank to work as a teller. Will this show up in a background check if it was dismissed? Thanks.

    -poor undergrad

    • Poor,

      Oh man, I know that feeling. You want to study, but no money for books! So you kept trying. You know, that is almost honorable. You are one of those people who is going to finish school no matter what. Great attitude.

      Well, this question is a little weird, because it looks like you had some sort of “post conviction” dismissal or “diversion” program. These vary greatly from county to county.

      Here is my best recommendation:

      You need to find out what sort of background check they do (what company) and do the exact same check yourself in advance.

      That is the only way to see what is there. If there are errors, notify the company of the error (like a failure to list a dismissal).

  54. worried. says:

    Christopher- HELP!

    towards the beginning of 2011 I was charged with a petty larceny charge in VA. Fortunately for me the judge just made me do community service as well as shoplifting class and a 6 month probation so my case wouldnt have to be tried in court. I went back to court at the end of my probation, completed all the necessary things i was suppose to complete, and the judge told me my case was to be thrown out, or dismissed.

    I have since then graduated from college and am interviewing with a couple different companies so i can start a career. I answered “no” on the pre-employment questions about being convicted of anything, because i was not convicted– my case was dismissed. My questions for you are 1- should I have answered yes, but explained that it was not a felony, but a misdemeanor, and that it was dismissed — just because of the seriousness of the crime? and 2- will it show up on my background check? what should i do???? 3- should I try and start an expungement process before my final interview next week??? Im lost.

    Please give me some words of wisdom.


  55. scared student says:

    Hello, I have been charged with petty theft-infraction (California) and am applying to various graduate schools and am wondering if this will show up on live scan or background checks etc. for graduate schools. I will be applying for a state license in the near future as well (after graduate school) and was also wondering if this infraction (used to be a misdemeanor) will hurt my chances.

    Thank you.

    • Scared,

      This is sort of a good question. I say sort of – because details are super important on a question like this, and you dont have the right details.

      For example, I can tell you that if you have been “charged” – you are 100% completely, entirely, presumed innocent. You are innocent you do not have to tell any one anything. No conviction? Nothing. . . no problem . . keep it to yourself. You are innocent.

      But because I have been listening to the same questions for the last 14 years, I can tell what you were actually talking about was a “conviction” – which is something entirely different.

      So here we go, I am going to start over and re write your question so that it is answerable.

      QUESTION: Will a theft conviction as an infraction in CA on a lice scan check and/or various unknown background checks that some various, unknown graduate schools or various, unknown licensing agencies may want to run on me?

      Well, I am not sure. I can tell you this: Generally, you do not have to report infractions to schools or licensing agencies when applying. The reason is that infractions are not technically crimes – there is no possibility of jail time on infractions, and you do not have a right to a public defender or to a jury trial to prove your innocence. Therefore, they are not crimes.

      But there are exceptions – especially with theft. With live scans, I have not tested it, and it may vary from location to location – but I would suspect it will show up.

      And a theft conviction as an infraction is a “crime of moral turpitude” for immigration purposes. And it is a conviction that would probably (probably) be a disaster if you wanted to be an attorney. Probably would prevent you from working at a bank also, and probably also public schools.

      And of course, if you have a police contact in the future, all of the details of the case will appear in the police car computer. And on any “rap” sheet pulled up by a prosecutor.

      Thus – here is my best advice: – WAIT – I forgot to say this: your graduate schools are not going to care. Dont worry about that. Worry about the licensing agencies.

      1) Dont lie. If you are required to report infractions, report it;
      2) Make sure you a have certified record of the final result in case you have to produce it to prove it was an infraction, and not a crime;
      3) I dont know what else to say.

      Those are my thoughts. Might be wrong for you.

      Get details, check the details. Do the exact background check you are worried about in advance so you know what is there.

      • scared student says:

        Thank you for your response. You are right, I do mean convicted instead of charged.

        If the application states have you ever been charged of a crime? Do I check “No” since it is an infraction now? I am not too sure what to check, since I originally was convicted with a misdo and now it is an infraction of petty theft.

        Also, for graduate schools, the reason why I ask is because we will be working with kids and families “practicing” the field by doing therapy with them and was thinking this will make it different from other graduate schools.

        Do you think that with state licensing they might not even give me my state license because of this? I am scared I will go through the years of school and in the end they will not give me my license to practice.

        • Scared,

          I seriously doubt the application will ask if you have been “charged”. That is rare. But read the questions carefully!

          The quickest way to screw it up is by providing false info.

          I would say you need to get all the info form the licensing agency that you can and just follow their procedures for disclosure where necessary. I think you will find it will work out.

          Lot of people with licenses of all sorts have old criminal cases. Just do what they require correctly. See what happens. If it doesnt work out, there’s really nothing you can do if you do everything right. But it will work out.

  56. justin says:

    in feb 2010, i was leaving work in New Orleans (day of superbowl parade) and not only were roads wet, but when i looked back up from my phone, there were two officers on bikes and when I jerked the wheel away from them (I wasn’t close to them, I just freaked out) and ran off the road and got stuck. About 5 min later, a trooper showed up and kept telling me he knows I’ve been drinking and I hadn’t had one drop, honestly. However, I have previous head and pelvic trauma due to car accident in 1999, so I was taking soma to ease the pain because I refused Lortabs since I know the dangers. When he performed FST, I asked if I could stand on level ground… He said no and didn’t ask me about any former injuries or anything. He took me to jail and made me provide a urine sample and I spent the next 7 hrs in the Gretna jail and wasn’t released until I was punched 3 times and had blood pouring out my nose for 10 minutes. Needless to say, here I am almost 2 years later, awaiting trial in April with a pending dwi….. My question is “Would this show up on a background screen that is processing right now?” If so, how do I explain it so that they will hire me for a sales position driving my own vehicle? My license was never taken from me and I actually just replaced an old one with no problem at DMV in Mississippi. I don’t understand how they can determine that I had taken more than the “legal limit” since the bottle said take as needed for pain. I can’t miss work, so I’m forced to take it if I don’t want to be in pain… Just craziness at its finest, I guess…. Thanks for any advice

  57. Sean says:

    Christopher I am from California and was caught in Nevada with a small quantity of marijuana. I was not arrested and the officer stated he was issuing me a citation for the weed which is a misdemeanor. However, after leaving the scene and inspecting the ticket I realized he had actually cited me for posession of meth. Long story short I retained a lawyer who had the charges dismissed outright. My lawyer says the charge will still appear on an extensive employment background check even though I was never convicted of a crime is this true? In your opinion would it be worth $1000 to have my record sealed? Is it possible to sue a company for withdrawing and employment offer due to a dismissed charge? Thank you for your help!

    • Sean,

      I do not know the law in NV. But I would say HELL YES it is worth a $1000 to get it sealed if you can. Duh. What if you lose a $80,000 a year job because you didnt want to spend $1000?

      Make sure you get details though to ensure the “sealing” is real and effective for your purposes.

  58. Mad says:

    My husband was just offered a position in California, pending a background check.
    We found out recently he has a bench warrant for unpaid child support and not showing up for his court date, we have been trying to call CS for days to get his fine paid,but still no response. My questions are if we get it paid, how long does it take for them to drop the warrant and is a bench warrant for CS considered a misdemeanor in an employee background check? Is there anything else we can do?

    • Mad,

      Thank you for the comment, but that is a family law issue, a totally different world than my world. I do not know anything about family law. It terrifies me. I skipped it in law school completely. I refused to take the Bar Exam pre class in family law, and I completely ignored the family law question on the state bar exam (still passed easily).

      And on top of all of that, my own real father still owes me and my sister child support after 40 years. I’m a little pissed off about that.

      So I am probably not the right lawyer for that question.

  59. Andy says:

    Hi Christopher,

    First, thanks for your helpful website. I was charged with a misdemeanor in assault. I was in an abusive relationship, and I pushed my boyfriend this summer; he retaliated by calling the cops. He didn’t have a mark on him. Knowing nothing of the law, and foolishly being honest and hoping I’d be able to explain my situation, I admitted to pushing him when the police came. As soon as I made that confession, it was over, and I was arrested. I’m an RN and was fully ready to take it to trial. I didn’t care if it would’ve cost thousands of dollars, as long as my nursing license and livelihood would be protected. After all the evidence was gathered from the abusive relationship, my attorney said we had an excellent case, and that there would be no way a jury would convict me. Thankfully we didn’t end up having to go to trial though, because in May, my charges were dismissed without prejudice due to my boyfriend at the time not participating as a witness. I have not disclosed these criminal charges to my employer or to the board of nursing, because as far as I can tell from my research, since I wasn’t convicted, I don’t have to say anything. Although I work full time as a nurse now, I’m interested in applying to an agency for as needed per diem work. I ran a background check on myself, and my assault charges do appear. I’m concerned that I may be denied employment with this nursing agency if they see that. I thought I could also maybe take my chances, and explain the circumstances surrounding what had happened. Not sure if that’s a wise decision though, and no matter what I say, simply the words “assault” and “nurse” shouldn’t be in the same sentence together. I worry too that they would tell my current employer or even the board of nursing. But not sure that they have the right to do that. My apologies for such a long post, I have a lot of anxieties surrounding this charge because of what I do for a living. I was wondering if I have to wait the two full years, which I believe is when the statute of limitations runs out, to have my records sealed or if it could be done sooner? Basically, just not sure if I should take my chances and apply anyway. I wonder though, if it’s an automatic “no” to anything criminal on one’s record, no matter the situation. If it seems too much of a risk or too much of an embarrassment, perhaps I should just wait it out to have it sealed. Afterall, I do already have a job that I love. And side note, if you respond to me, will you please not display my name? Thank you kindly

    • Andy,

      I almost didnt read your question because it was too long. Looked like a william faulkner paragraph, and I still have nightmares from those.

      But I did read it. Great question.

      Simple Answer – Very Important – as long as you are in America:

      YOU ARE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY! No conviction – you are innocent – nothing happened, false charges confirmed by prosecutor. No conviction = no criminal act = innocent.

      “I’m innocent, I have never been convicted of anything, and if you use false, unproven allegations to deny me employment you are going to get sued.”

      That is all you need to say, that is all you should say.


      That is it. KISS theory. Know that one? I learned it when I worked at the Backhoe Rental Lot: Keep It Simple Schithead.

      Not my words.

      • Andy says:

        hahaha, the beginning and ending of your response cracked me up. To make it more aesthetically pleasing and less painful than the William Faulkner paragraphs that still haunt you, I should’ve used spaces to separate my thoughts. Thanks so much for reading and replying.

        I like your honest, straight forward answer. Every single sentence you wrote makes so much since, is informative, and lends me comfort. The bold words and quotes were also helpful. When it comes to this incident, I will keep it simple, and not discuss any details, except for with my attorney.

        All around wonderful advice. You are generous with your time, and your efforts are appreciated. I will be sure to recommend you if anyone I know needs an attorney (including myself).

        Take great care…

  60. maggie says:

    Does a petty theft infraction show up on background checks for graduate schools? What about the arrest for it? Does it show up?

  61. Trixie says:

    It sounds like you could help me with my question.
    When I was 17, I was caught at target for petty theft. An officer arrived and gave me a citation and court date. However when my time to court came, there had been a scheduling error. Instead I was called directly to a probation office where I was told to write a letter of apology, re evaluation paper and 10 hours of community service completed on a website for depression relief. I would like to know if this is a conviction/infraction? and since I was under the age of 18 will this appear in any back ground checks? I would appreciate any help! Thanks!

  62. Haley says:


    I was charged for petty theft and pleaded guilty and now have a misdemeanor. I’m on probation for three years and have my 4th amendment waived. Will this show up on a background check? I’m trying to attain another job and I am not sure how to go about it. . . . It was a stupid decision and I don’t want this paragraph written on paper to define my existence and self!

    • Haley,

      I’ve got nothing but bad news for you but I will give it to you straight.

      If you were convicted of a petty theft misdemeanor, you are a convicted criminal. It is a crime of “Moral Turpitude” which is exactly what employers are looking for in a background check.

      You should pay an attorney to try to terminate probation early, and do try to expunge the misdemeanor conviction.

      If it is in a court where I work and you hire me today, I’d probably charge about $1800. Maybe less if it is a court I really like.

  63. Maria says:

    Can an attorney file a motion to destroy my arrest records forever? So that it will never show up on background checks? This is for misdemoner for petty theft that has been reduced to an infraction petty theft. Thank you.

  64. questioner says:

    I moved from California to a different state. I just found out I have a warrant for failure to appear on a traffic violation. I have a job interview in less then two weeks. Is there any way to clear up this warrant without appearing in California?

    • Questioner,

      Yes! Where is it? I might be able to solve that problem for you tomorrow morning.

      First we have to say if you have a pending warrant, you are considered by the court to be a fugitive from justice.

      An Attorney can go to court for you on nearly all misdemeanor warrant problems. The judge has discretion to recall a warrant without a Defendant actually in court, if there is an attorney there for the Defendant to handle the case correctly. If it is a simple case, a Defense Attorney like me should be able to completely resolve it for you.

      For more serious cases, judges will require the defendant to be present so that they can be taken into custody. But if it is a failure to appear on a traffic infraction, send an attorney, clear it up fast and correctly.

      As long as the judge (or prosecutor) does not really want you in jail, and just wants your money, then it can be resolved without you ever having to go to court. And the attorney can do it faster and better than you could do it even if you were here to screw it up (again).


      And I was not kidding about tomorrow if you are ready. send me the detail to dort(at)dortlaw.com. Some Counties, I can do it the same day, by fax or phone. I have cleared some warrants within minutes of being hired.

      Some courts are tougher than others. Santa Clara, for example requires 48 hrs notice to get a warrant recall request on calendar.

      How much would I charge? Depends on which court. I take PayPal, Credit cards, Debit cards, e checks, etc. and I make it easy for you to hire me from your computer.

      I have actually had a few clients hire me to handle their warrant cases from India, and Spain, and other far, far away places.

  65. Emanuel says:

    I got arrested for shoplifting a JC Penney in 2010. I made a bad choice and I regret it. I was 16. I was sent to a probation officer and she liked me so she closed the case before it even went to court. How does this appear on my record? Can this affect my working at Kmart? I am 18 now and I live in California.

  66. Alice says:

    A couple weeks ago i got charged with a shoplifting ticket in VA. I am currently applying to work with vb schools as a bus assistant. On the app it asks me “Are any criminal or non-civil charges or proceedings pending against you?” I am not sure how to answer this. I really need this job. Also any ideas on how to get this off my record . I am college student who made a stupid mistake, a mistake that could ruin my professional career.

    • Alice,

      Good question, nothing but bad news answers.

      I can tell you do not have an attorney defending you yet.

      First, I have to say that if you are charged with a misdemeanor petty theft, and the case is pending, you do have a pending criminal case against you. Pending Criminal Cases for adults are public records.

      If I were in this position, I would be looking to immediately hire an attorney to try to resolve the cases ASAP (today) for something like disturbing the peace (if possible – may not be possible – gotta try everything is a career depends on it.

      When you say “ticket” I cannot tell exactly what the charges are. Look at it, read it carefully, to determine if it is an infraction or a misdemeanor charge. Infractions are generally not crimes. Read the citation.

  67. Tiffany says:

    I had a misdemeanor petty theft and the judge reduced it into an infraction. I am applying for graduate school and soon after want to be employed as a professional. Does an infraction for petty theft show up on my employment record? Can I get it expunged? Thank you. It was in CA by the way and it was almost a year ago. I really need it to get off my record and was wondering too, if there is any way?

    • Tiffany,

      Infractions are not crimes. There is no way that I know of to expunge an infraction from court records.

      An infraction probably will not cause you any trouble with employment, but for those who are not US Citizens, even an infraction petty theft can result in deportation, denial of citizenship and/or permanent residence in the US and denial of re entry into the US.

      • Tiffany says:

        Since an infraction is not considered a crime, does that mean it will never show up in a background check? How can I find out for sure? Thank you.

        • Tiffany,

          Want to find out for sure? Pay someone to do the exact kind of background check you are worried about.

          Here is a list of options: http://trafficcourtpros.com/blog/?page_id=3467

          Do not confuse “background” check with Driver History Report from DMV – they are 2 totally different things. Many people confuse the two.

          • Tiffany says:

            I will look into that right away. By any chance, is there any way you can change my infraction-petty theft to infraction-distrubing the peace? I was under a lot of pressure that day and was very confused and did not know what to do. They said that was “the best” thing (infraction) I can ever get so was pressured to accept it. I pleaded no consent. Thank you.

          • Tiffany says:

            Also, I read about something called a diversion program. Is it too late for me to ask for that? Any way for me to still get it and get it dismissed. Thank you.

  68. Ashley says:

    Hi, first I’d just like to say thanks for answering these questions!
    I was arrested for a petty theft misdemeanor. At my hearing, the charge was reduced to a petty theft infraction and i only had to pay a 600 dollar fine. I am trying to get a simple retail job and I know that infractions usually do not show up on criminal records, but I am wondering if since it was originally a misdemeanor if it will show up or not. Thank you!

  69. matthew says:

    Hey….do investigations end up on background checks. I was investigated for a crime what but there was unsubstantiated evidence and i was never charged or went to court or anything and it is done. but just wondering if it shows up on a background check??

  70. Lindsay says:

    Hi there,

    I shoplifted from a retail store when I was 19 (2006) and was issued a citation to appear in court. At the hearing I was informed I needed to be booked on the matter of petty theft, so that was done. The result was me taking a plea bargain that consisted of pleading no contest to a “disturbing the peace” infraction and paying a $400 fine.

    I’m wondering what exactly will show up when potential employers run a background and/or LiveScan check on me. I’m also wondering how to answer application questions that only ask whether or not I’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense.

    Hopefully I’ve given you enough information to be able to answer this question. Thank you for your help!

    • Lindsay,

      Great, succinct question.

      Infractions are not crimes. Disturbing the peace as an infraction is not a crime. No problem, you saved your future without even knowing how.

      Here is my new advice: Forget comply what happened. Do not even tell anyone you stole something and got caught again. Thank the universe for giving you a break. Somehow win back the good Karma you burnt up.

  71. Shanique says:

    Hi Chris,

    I recently was oferred a position at a hospital here in Florida. They did a background check and called me back stating that they could not hire me. I am waiting for the details of the background check. I am wondering if it could be because of an arrest I had last year November. I had a physical fight with my son’s father and was arrested with a domestic violence charge due to trespassing even though I was the one beat up the fact that I was at his family’s place had me arrested. I was released the next day with a court date and a no contact order. At the court date the charges were dropped. My question is could that have come up on the background check? If so, can I dispute it to get the job?

  72. LouLou says:

    I have been interviewing for a job for the last month. After several interviews I finally received a job offer both verbally and written. I know this job offer can be retracted at any time, as I live in Utah (an at-will state). I felt I was in the clear and very excited about this offer and a few hours later they sent me an email stating I needed to feel out additional paperwork for a background check that is completed by an outsourced employment screening company called Occuscreen. In 2008 I had a DUI, which was dropped to Alcohol Related Reckless Driving; also with those charges I had a hit and run charge which was dismissed. Unfortunately I cannot expunge the hit and run charge, even though it was dismissed, because it is attached with the same case as the DUI and they do not do ‘partial expungements’. I think this is entirely unfair, as an employer will see that and make their own judgments regardless. So in addition to this charge, a year later in 2009, I was arrested for domestic violence, later the judge determing that my boyfriend was the principle aggressor and the case was dismissed. I have since had this expunged. I have been reading that these third party reporting agencies report outdated information and often report cases that have been expunged. I am so stressed… I have really had a rough few years and was so excited about this new job and now I feel like the odds are stacked against me and am on pins and needles to see what this company says when they see my report. I have not disclosed any of this information with them. On the application it only asked if I had any felony convictions or am pending trial for any charges. It did not ask about misdemeanors. I have stayed out of trouble for the last few years, but I am afraid I am going to be turned down based on these… I know the DUI doesn’t look good, let alone the expunged domestic violence charges which hopefully aren’t shown as well. Do you know anything about these third party verification companies? Any suggestions or anything that could relieve my anxiety. I know at this point worrying is useless, I have done all I can, but I can’t help worrying and am losing sleep over this. I have broke down crying several times… seems unfair.

    • Loulou,

      I dont fully understand your question. Mainly because I am not from Utah, and not licensed there, and that is a very strange place.

      This may be a difference in state law, but I do not understand how you would “expunge” something that has been dismissed. “Dismissed”, to me, means no conviction, no finding of guilty, no change from the presumption of innocent. Under that paradigm, there is nothing to “expunge”. So I do not understand what there was to “expunge”? A record of an unproven charge, maybe? Not sure. Makes no sense to this California sunburnt brain.

      But I can say this – unless there is a conviction, there is nothing to report or worry about. The United States Constitution requires a presumption that you are fully innocent of everything until proven guilty. No conviction = no crime = unproven lies! Lies, lies, lies!

      Bottom line, my unqualified answer is this: You do not need to worry about anything except convictions and pending cases. Dismissed charges are false charges. Dismissed charges are charges that the court reviewed and found to be false.

      Dismissed charges are not public records of convictions, or of criminal activity.

      • LouLou says:

        Yes, Utah is a strange place indeed. I am a fellow California Native. So far my track record here in Utah has made me want to leave, despite the fact it is a beautiful state. I plead guilty on the DV charges, was convicted, 10 months later the judge dismissed the case when my boyfriend beat the crap out of me and they determined I was unfairly charged. There was no evidence against me the first time around, I just couldn’t afford to fight the charges and didn’t want to accuse my boyfriend of anything so I took the fall. Its a long story, but long story short, the judge dismissed less than a year later and I had to pay to get it expunged.. I sent expungement papers through all proper channels. The jail, courthouse, BCI, and BCI forwarded it to FBI.
        My main concern is even though I had this expunged is it possible this company Occuscreen will still show my potential employer? I heard these companies have some sort of insane database system where they acquire this information on a constant basis for criminal convictions, but they aren’t required to expunge records or update records. I feel as though laws need to change if that is the case… because that seems so entirely unfair. It is hard enough to find a job these days. If a person has expunged a record, it shouldn’t be public information anymore.

  73. LS says:


    First, thanks for taking the time out to answer so many questions. You are providing a great service.

    My question is this: I’ve been offered a good position with a fairly prominent company. They’re doing a background check. I am a resident of New York.

    I received a DUI conviction 7 years ago in Atlanta. I am planning to disclose that to them before the check. My privileges were suspended in state, but I do not have a license in that state. My license & insurance in NY were unaffected.

    I also received one 4 years ago in Seattle. This one was a SIS – Suspended Imposition of Sentence – for 5 years, pending court requirements, which I completely fully. I’ve run background checks on myself online and had an attorney friend pull one. It hasn’t showed up on either.

    My question is – I do believe in honesty. I want to tell them. However, I’m not sure TWO DUIs will sit well. One, I think I could escape. But I especially don’t want to get caught not mentioning one that shows up.

    I know that honesty is sometimes the best policy. But in your best opinion, will a fully compliant SIS show up in most background checks?

    I truly do appreciate your time and effort.

    • LS,

      There is no standard for “Background Checks”. The background check a local video store may do is way, way different than one the FBI does if you want to be a federal agent. And who knows what kind of background checks banks do ????? Scary for sure. If you were applying for US Citizenship, you think the Department of Homeland Security would find it? But could your local Catholic church find it if you want to be a sunday school teacher? They cant even find (fill in your own joke here) . . . . .

      All I can really say is that criminal convictions, even ones that result in probation, are public records for adults.

      I cant tell you lying about will produce a good result.

  74. DBryant says:

    Hello I am still fighting a court case in Alabama but live in GA. and applying for a job here that wants to do a Full background check on me will that arrest and court proceeding be on my background check.

  75. mike says:

    in 1996 i was arrested and pled no contest to a 2nd degree strong armed robbery and i only did 4 months in county for it (i drove the car after others had robbed a kid and didnt want to be a witness against the people that did the crime), i was printed and received an fbi number for the conviction. in 2007 i was being investigated by the secret service for some computer related things and i saw the ncic/nlets check they did on me and the felony conviction wasnt on there. the original state the felony was committed in was washington and the state i lived in at the time the secret service ran my background was california. I am applying for a job with a bank doing customer service that requires an fbi background check and if i disclose it, its guaranteed i wont get the job. is there any chance it wont come back on the background check?

    • Mike,

      I tell everyone with this question the same thing: Criminal Convictions are public records. Dont lie and expect good results.

      RE: “i saw the ncic/nlets check they did on me and the felony conviction wasnt on there” – that has no relevance to the question at all. Forget about that part of the story. Chances are what you saw is incomplete, and/or not what you thought it was and/or you did not fully understand what it was or said.

      You want to know what a potential employer can find on you? Visit the courthouse where you were convicted and get a certified record of the judgment. If the court cannot find it, you are fine. But I bet they find it quick.

  76. Ash says:

    The company is conducting a pre-employment background check and has asked me to clarify some gaps in my employment history. Most of those gaps are small windows of time between jobs or periods of unemployment, which I plan to explain as such. My real concern is that I have worked in some long term temporary positions as well as permanent positions that I totally guessed at start and end dates. I honestly have no recollection as to when I began and started some of those assignments and gave my best estimates. Given as detailed as they seem to be during this investigation, I’m now concerned about what might happen if my estimated start and end dates don’t match up with whatever the background check turns up.

    Should I be worried? How should I address possible discrepancies that might arise?

    • Ash,

      After I passed the California Bar Exam, I had to apply through and pass a full on FBI background check (because attorneys are sworn officers of the court).

      The application demanded that I list the address of every single place I had ever lived, with dates.

      We moved around a lot when I was a kid. By the time I had finished high school, I attended 22 different schools. Maybe 100+ addresses by the time I finished law school. There was no way in the world I could accurately list every single address. Impossible.

      I had the exact same fear as you. Only it was so bad it made me completely insane for a few months. No doubt shortened my life expectancy (additional damage from law school). But I made my best good faith effort to comply. I know if I lied intentionally, the FBI would find it, and jack me up. So I did the best I could, tried to be honest, and eventually got a license and sworn in.

      There is no way I got every single address and date correct. But in the end, it was the good faith effort to tell the truth that really mattered.

      Dont lie, you’ll be fine.

  77. quinn says:

    I left a job over a year ago in Ohio and was still owed an expense check and with held my company laptop until they paid me. They reported the computer stolen and I was arrested when the police randomly ran my car tags. I ended up being convicted of unauthorized use of property and paid a fine. I recently ran a criminal background check on myself through intelius and it said I had a clear criminal background. Why would it not show up if it searches all public records? Will a standard background check by an employer reveal this conviction?

    • Quinn,

      This is actually a great question. Criminal convictions are public records. The only reliable source of information about court cases is the court itself.

      Sounds like you used a private service that did not have access to real criminal case records. I dont want to say you got scammed . . . maybe you got what you paid for …. but I would not be confident that someone like me wouldnt find your criminal conviction in 30 seconds.

      I’ll give yo the same advice I give everyone: dont lie to employers about your criminal background because you used some private for profit background check service that says they could not find anything.

      There are no legal standards for background check services. A 10 year old kid with some HTML knowledge can create his own background checking service.

      A real employer doing a background check – like the FBI does for Attorneys when they apply for a law license includes direct checking with court records.

      There is probably a huge difference between the background check an employer like Wallmart uses and that a Sheriff’s Department would use if you wanted to become a deputy.

      Bottom line: dont lie

  78. jennfier Pardee says:

    I live in MA and a company offered me a job, never asked about criminal background. After they offered me the job, they asked for a county criminal background check for worcester court house specifically. I was charged with driving with a suspended license from this court and recieved countinue without a finding for one year and UNSUPERVISED probation. The probation is over as of 11/22/11. My license was suspended originally pending an OUI case from another court (east brookfield, ma) and i was found not guilty on the OUI and one year probation for marked lanes violation.(that probation is over) Will this show up on the background check AND i know you are not the employer but in your opinion, do you think or can they recall the offer of employement. The job is a computer technician support position. I plan to go to the court house Monday to find out exactly how it is listed as a “crime” but was hoping for some clarity and calmness to my worries in the meantime. Was I in fact “lying” when i said i was never convicted of a crime. I was under the impression i did not have to say i was.

    thank you for your time and hope i provided enough information not to have wasted any of your time.

  79. Kathryn says:

    I was caught stealing from a Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania when I was 19. They took me to the back and I had to give them a bunch of information and I had to pay a fine, but I was never arrested or anything like that. Police were not involved whatsoever. I’m trying to find a job and I’m wondering if this will come up in a background check?

  80. worried says:

    I was arrested 7/2010 in Texas on two warrants (one was a failure to appear on an expired inspection sticker) and one for theft by check. I appeared in court and the judge dropped the failure to appear and I paid the $10 court costs. I went to court for the theft by check, but never had to see a judge. I paid that off in installments and received documentation showing the case was dismissed. I just had a pre-employment background check run and was wondering if it is likely any of these things will show up? Thanks.

    • Worried,

      Good question. I am not licensed in TX, but Generally, Usually, dismissals are not convictions. And without a conviction, you are innocent by law. (US Constitution)

      If you want to know for sure, go to the courthouse in person, see the court clerk, and ask for a certified record of the cases(s) – if there is one.

      The court is the only reliable source of information on criminal case records and results.

      Dont confuse court records with a DMV history. Usually, a driver’s history report will show a history – regardless of whether or not there was a conviction on motor vehicle related cases because driving is a privilege, not a right.

      That is my best free answer to your question. Might be completely wrong.

  81. Jennifer says:

    I was arrested for shoplifting in Ohio and my lawyer got me in a diversion program. I have completed all requirements and it will be dismissed in 2 weeks. An employer will be running a finger printed background check on me before the diversion is complete. Do you know what will show up if the diversion is still pending.

  82. stressed says:

    I plead guilty to a felony but it wasn’t a conviction, it will be off my record in a year. I got two years probation. I’m trying to get a job at a insurance company, they said they do two different types of backround checks one state and the other federal. Since they do two different types of backround checks will the felony and probation show up on my record?

    My other question is there having me do figure printing too. I had a warrant but took care of it at the court house and I was never arrested. But they did take my figure prints, will this show up on the backround check?

    • Stressed, these are good questions.

      Unfortunate, I can tell this is in an area I am not licensed in, because I dont understand how you could plead guilty and not get convicted. That part of your question makes zero sense to me. Maybe it was some kind of “diversion” – “conditional plea” thing. So I cant give you any details on that.

      A “federal” background check probably looks for federal court convictions (drug trafficking, human smuggling, terrorist watch list, communist black list, etc). A “state” background check probably refers to State Court crimes (possession of cocaine, theft, domestic violence, robbery, etc)

      As far as finger printing goes, usually that means you were “booked” – which is the same thing as arrested in essence. They were nice to you, and let you go without handcuffing you, but you were detained and arrested. You weren’t free to go when they were printing you, right? Did you have a choice? Did the cop have a loaded gun, ready to shoot you if you did not comply? Were you in a police building? Were they taking personal, private data from you? That’s an arrest.

  83. cassandra says:

    Hi, I am waiting on my background check to go through so I will be hired on at a local hospital. I am worried though because I have a shoplifting charge for a CD in North Carolina from March 2004 and I was 21 then. I have been honest with them and just wanted to know if they would be able to find a incident report telling details like who all was present at the time I took the CD and also if I was employed at a place and it is now closed down, how do they find out if I really worked there or not? Thanks

    • Cassandra, generally, court records do not show any kind of incident report or statement of facts. In 90% of criminal cases, the court makes no findings of fact that are viewable to anyone. Police reports are not available on background checks.

      Sometimes if there has been a trial, there will be a set of factual findings in the court records. But that is super rare.

  84. Tara says:

    I was arrested for shop lifting when I was 19. I was charged with disorderly conduct. I was recently hired for a job and was asked to explain what happened to HR. I said I was arrested for being a party and getting out of hand. Well, I have to go down to the public safety office and explain to them what happened. Do you think they found out I lied about what really happened?

  85. FELIPE says:


    • Felipe,

      If the charges were dropped, you were not convicted. You are innocent until proven guilty (in america) – and if not proven guilty – you are innocent.

      Dropped charges = no problem, no conviction.

  86. E Johnson says:

    Will a violation and a few days of community service show up on a criminal background check for employment?

    • E, please forgive me, but I have to be rude to you in order to reduce the number of stupid questions I get a day. After all, if I am going to provide real, free legal self help, I have to limit the amount of time I do it. And every time I get a stupid question like this, it limits the amount of time I have to answer real questions.

      Your question is unanswerable because:

      1) You did not tell me where it was;
      2) you did not tell me what you were convicted of; and
      3) there is no information in the question that would allow me to understand what you are worried about.

      Community service has nothing to do with this question. Were you convicted of littering, or stabbing the guy you caught sleeping with your wife? Did you fail to register your dog, or get caught on hotel security video having sex with a 17 year old? How do I know what the problem is?

      I can tell you this (because I will try to put some help in here) – your sentence has nothing to do at all with the question of whether or not a conviction will appear on a background check. What matters is whether you were convicted of an infraction, misdemeanor or felony. Infractions are not crimes. Misdemeanors and Felonies are crimes. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, you have a criminal history.

      • E Johnson says:

        I’ll make this brief, It was Brooklyn, New York I was charged with a grand larceny (class A felony). over a peroid of court appearences I was offered a calss B misdemeanor which I refused. I was then offered a voilation (disorderly conduct) with eight days community service only if I described what another idividual involved in the case was wearing. As of 2/22/11 all court fees were paid and a community service completion letter was presented to the judge. No MM or F conviction = no criminal history I understand, a possible employer told me this might come up during bacground check.

        I appeciate your time and efforts, Thank You

  87. girl009 says:

    Hi, I was fired from a company and filed for unemployment. I was denied by the unemployment office so I have appealed to the superior court for Judicial review. I just got a new job and they are doing a background check. Will they find out that I have this case against my old employer? It is now listed on cobb superior court’s clerk records.


    • Girl009,

      That’s a good question. I am not licensed to practice there, so all I can do is guess. But I’ll give you a good guess.

      I would not worry about it at all. You have a right to claim unemployment insurance and appeal if you want to. Millions of people do it. It does not mean you have done something wrong, it is not a crime, and there is probably no court records involving factual findings in the case that anyone will be able to access. And there is this consideration – no one cares about your unemployment battles.

      So I would not worry about it all. Unless – you were not truthful when applying for the job. Then you have to worry about them contacting your past employer.

  88. Maria says:

    I recently applied to a bank to where I extensively read online does extensive background checks. My question is, my previous employers were under-the-table employers (basically because the company belonged to my family and we all worked in it, so I was never on payroll or anything), but I learned a lot working in the company, mostly all of my skills and knowledge was developed there. Now, I know that when they do the background check they wont find anything as employment wise. If they call me back and tell me I was not eligible for work because of the employment part of the background check, should I tell them it was under the table and explain the situation? I am really hoping to work for them, and I know I would do great, my interviews have been very successful, it is only the background check part that bothers me. Please help me!!

    • Maria, great question.

      Just because you were paid “under the table”, it does not mean you did not work. It does not mean you have o experience. It does not mean that you are a criminal or that you did something wrong.

      Getting paid in cash without auto with drawls from your payments of pre payments on your taxes is something self employed people do on a regular basis. It’s OK – as long you report all of your income to the IRS and pay the taxes that you owe.

      When you say “under the table” all you are really saying is that your employer did deduct pre tax payments for you from your checks. Who cares whether or not your employer paid his or her fair share of payroll taxes. That is not your concern. There is no [problem with it from your end if you report all of your income and pay taxes.

      It ok to get paid in cash, gold, diamonds, actually – there might be a problem with diamonds, but getting paid in stock is OK, getting paid in promises for future royalties is OK – it’s all ok as long as you correctly report the income on your tax returns.

      So then the next issue is whether or not a potential employer can verify your prior employment? Of course they can. They can call your last boss or who ever paid you and ask about you.

      Are you worried that your prior employer will complete deny ever hiring you? If so, then I’d say . . . I nothing to say about that.

      Ask for a letter of recommendation maybe. Now I’m just making stuff up.

      Most pre employement Background checks do not have a print out of all the places you have worked. They have lists of criminal convictions, probation, etc. Not of places you have worked.

      If they want to explore your employment history, they have to get that history from you and then start calling people to verify. That is how it works.

      Just tell them who to call. If there is no one to call to verify your employment, I dont know . . . probably should promote it on your resume.

      Anyway, the point is that working “under the table” has nothing to do with a background check. Report and pay taxes – no problem (for the employee).

  89. Scott says:

    I forgot about a speeding ticket (11 mph over) I received from a photo radar unit in another state. I found the case online but there is no judge assigned to it nor is there any indication of a warrant being issued/activity since my court date (18 months ago). Will this show up on a pre employment background check? What can happen if I call to resolve this? I was recently pulled over in the state the ticket was issued and the officer said nothing to me about having an unpaid ticket. Should I be worried? Thanks in advance!

    • Scott, this is actually a great questions.

      Here is some real completely free legal advice about this speeding ticket failure to appear in another state problem:

      Dont trust what you see on the court’s web site. The true status of the case may not be listed. You need to visit (best) or call the court clerk and talk to a human to determine the status of the case.

      If this is a photo ticket, I cannot say for sure, but I would say your drivers license in that state (or driving privilege if you do not have a license in that state) will be suspended. That is what you need to worry about. If it is suspended there, the suspension will eventually find you in another state.

      Dont expect it to just go away like magic. It might come back in the dark and bite you in the ass. Find it, take care of it. You can probably just pay by mail. Make sure your old DMV has your current address. Make sure the court has your current address.

      • Scott says:

        Thanks, I called the court today since they are in a neighboring state. She was surprised that my license had not been suspended and all I had to do was pay the original fine. Traffic citations do not normally show up on criminal background checks do they, or does a criminal background check entail all aspects of law breaking?

  90. Jenny says:

    Yes i understand. It was a diversion program and unfortunately I was not paying by the hour, I had a court appointed attorney. Since it was a diversion program I’m thinking it would not show up. But I will check to see if this attorney will speak with me via phone as I’m still obviously confused! Thanks for your time I really do appreciate it!

    • Jenny,

      That is one of the main problems with relying on a Defense Attorney paid for by the tax payers – they are not going to help you at all with follow up problems. They are like ER Doctors. Get in, get out, dont come back.

  91. Jenny says:

    I am in Virginia by the way!

  92. Jenny says:

    First of all, thank you so much for all of your knowledge and willingness to share it with us! It is much appreciated! I have a quick question that is just weighing Soo heavily on me. I was arrested and charged with domestic violence earlier this year. When I went to court I plead guilty but took the plea deal which included 2 years probation and domestic violence classes. They were clear that amongst successful completion of the domestic violence program, that my case would be dropped. Does that mean that it is erased completely from my record and that I would not have to disclose this info to a potential employer since it’s not a conviction? Will my employer be able to see this while I’m going through the program? Thnks!

    • Jenny, I cannot answer your question because there is not enough detail. I cant tell what the status of your case is, and I dont even know what state it is in.

      But in CA, some DV cases get sent to “Diversion” programs where the defendant enters a conditional plea that may be withdrawn after successful completion of probation. Then the charges can be dismissed without a conviction.

      I have no idea if this is what you have.

      This is an example of why it is worth the money to hire a good attorney. Your attorney should have explained this part of it to you clearly, and should be available to answer your questions. If you were paying by the hour, I am sure they would answer the phone and answer your question.

      Anyway, I hope this helps.

  93. May says:

    I have a misdemeanor for a dwai, does this show up on criminal background checks?

  94. Sasha says:

    I was convicted of driving under suspension. I am now applying for pharmaseutical jobs and would like to know if this conviction is likely to show up on a background check and if so is it likely to be an instant disqualifier.

    • Sasha, I cannot answer your question, because I have no idea what the potential employer cares about. And you did not tell me where this was, and you did not tell me whether the charge was a misdemeanor crime, or an infraction. There are many different types of driving on a suspended drivers license. Some are real bad, some are just bad.

  95. kn says:

    I have been offered a position working with a non-profit and they require a LiveScan background check. I had an old case (misdemeanor) expunged a few years ago, and another dismissed (also misdemeanor) following that. What will a LiveScan reveal? And will the findings completely bar me from employment? Please advise.

  96. Fred says:

    I was arrested in CA and charged with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell. I had the case dismissed about a year ago. I applied for a job and they are using Sterling to do the background checks. Will they catch this? It says on the Sterling website they only go back 7 years, I was arrested 10 years ago. If someone could give me an answer I would greatly appreciate it.

  97. Tiera Sheldon says:

    I just received a copy of the online criminal background check from the college I will soon be attending. On it, i was very surprised to see that I have a misdemeanor for speeding in a state I used to live in 2004. It also states that no plea was entered and the verdict was guilty. The thing is, I have had several jobs (and background checks) sense then and never knew a thing about it. This is the first background check I have ever received a copy of, and I am very disturbed to find anything on it. I guess my questions are, how could I have a misdemeanor for a simple speeding ticket? How could I have not known about it all this time? Should I contact the County in which the charge is from? Thank you for any input you might have.

    • Tiera, in most jurisdiction, a failure to appear in court on time – ever for a speeding ticket – is a criminal misdemeanor – read for ex CA Vehicle Code 40508a.

      BUt having said that, I sure wouldnt just assume what a private company says about you is true. THe only reliable source for information on a court case is the court clerks office at that courthouse.

      If you think the report is wrong – contact the court clerks office in person and get a copy of the final judgement on the case and see what it says.

  98. Jessica says:

    I was charged with petit larceny in 2008. I went to court and the plaintiff did not show so the judge dismissed the case. I understand it is still on my record, but can an employer find out WHY it was dismissed ?

    • paula says:

      No, it is on your arrest record and the employer can not ask you what happend especially if it’s dismissed and after so long it is not suppose to apper on the court records. Don’t worry about it you were never found guilty the employer only can denie you employment if your guily and lied about on the application.

    • June says:

      Plain answer NO. Actually Petty Theft doesnt come back in a background check. And dismissle cases are what they are Dismissed. Don’t worry about it.

      • June, I approved this comment just make sure everyone who wants a voice here gets one. But I need to caution users: Petty Theft is a crime. It can be a Felony, Misdemeanor or Infraction. Petty Theft convictions do create criminal records, and at any level – if you are not a US Citizen, can result in deportation, denial of residency or naturalization, and/or denial of entry to the US.

        “Petty Theft” – does not mean “minor, unimportant theft”. Any theft crime is serious. So from my point of view, as a licensed attorney with more than 14 years of trial and criminal defense experience – I’d say you are wrong. Petty Theft convictions are criminal records that can be uncovered by background checks. And in the case of an INS or FBI background check – they will show up even if they have been expunged or dismissed through a diversion program by the courts.

  99. Maery Bryd says:

    Live in Ms was convicted of shoplifting in 1988 pleaded no contest paid a fine will this show up on a employment background check .applying for property manager also worked as a Property manager for 11 yrs until company changed . thank you

    • Maery, I cannot answer this question because: 1) I cannot tell if you were actually convicted of a criminal offense or if it was something like an infraction; and 2) I have no idea what kind of background check your potential employer is going to do.

      There are at least 1000 ways to do a background check. Are they going to do a full blown FBI finger print check like they do for Attorneys like me? Or is just some lackey paying an internet company $99 dollars to search the internet?

      When I had to undergo the CA State Bar background check, I was forced to write down every single address I had ever lived at. Is that what you are going through? OR something totally different?

      I can say this: Adult Criminal Convictions of all types are PUBLIC RECORDS.

      Generally, Petty theft is normally a crime, and also a “Crime of Moral Turpitude” for immigration purposes.

  100. Adelle says:

    My question is I had a pretty theft conviction in 08 the case was dismissed with penal code 1385 Im in the healthcare field where some jobs I apply to require a live scan on job applications do I put no never convicted and should I be able to pass a live scan because on the doj website out says you will. Not pass live scan if your case was expunged with 1203.4 but says nothing about 1385 thanks

    • Adelle, unfortunately, I do not have sufficient info to know what really happened in your case, and I am not really qualified to tell you what to say on a job application. Maybe someone else out there can elaborate and I will publish it. My best blind non professional opinion?: Dont lie on a job application. If it happened, disclose it.

  101. Allegedly says:

    I was charged with felony AUO, DWI (.10 reading. misdemeanor), and “possession of a forged document”, a class C felony (fake I.D.). This is in NY. I won’t waste time on all the details of the case, but it’s extremely complicated and a trial would be a 50/50 gamble. I was offered a plea deal that would make me a felon for the stupid I.D. but with a relief of civil disabilities attached so I could retain my rights as a citizen, plus no jail time.

    How stupid would it be to move to the West Coast to avoid conviction? I understand a warrant would be issued but I would not be “hunted”. I’d have to avoid driving as much as possible and avoid situations where police would run a check on me. That I can do. NY is also extremely unlikely to extradite.

    Better to have a warrant on my tail than a felony branded to my forehead is my mentality. Is it possible to contact the arresting county and work something out down the road, ideally when the case may be weaker? We may live in the land of computers but there are witnesses involved and other complications… it may be tough to pull the case back together in the future.


  102. AJ says:

    10 years ago 3 crooked cops claimed that I had marijuana “in plain view” in my car; this was a blatant lie and I’m convinced that they opted to frame me for this because I was sleeping in my (left-wing bumper sticker-laden) car in their wealthy little town. I was homeless at the time and had little (basically no) money and they opted to screw me over — because they could.

    I went to court and wanted to find some kind of court-appointed lawyer; alas, I later found out that you only “have the right to an attorney” if the charge brought against you carries potential jail time of a year or more. Everyone in front of me was charged with the same thing (possession of a small quantity of marijuana) and the court effectively (de facto) forced everyone to take the “deal” that was being offered. (Something like working for 100 hours for the state for free, going to 20-35 hours of drug and alcohol classes and paying court costs.) I went before the judge twice in the same day and was effectively obligated to plead guilty, with no attorney present. (I also had to deal with court clerks, one of whom — to whom I told I was innocent — told me “maybe you should stay out of their [i.e. the cops'] town.”

    After this nightmare, I was told that I had to come back in two weeks’ time; I couldn’t understand why, other than some need to “confirm” my guilty plea.

    At the time, I was aware that people convicted of drug offenses, no matter how minor, could not receive loans to pursue higher education; two-and-a-half months after getting arrested I had to go to some far-off state in order to start my graduate (MA) studies, and I didn’t want this frame-up job to get in the way of that. Not having enough money to pay for the gas that I needed to drive over to the courthouse, I simply didn’t go back to court the second time.

    I then went to graduate school and …. slightly over three years later, when visiting my parents in their home state, I discovered that I couldn’t renew my license because I had an outstanding warrant out for my arrest. Eventually, my parents hired a lawyer and, to shorten a story which I could make considerably longer, the marijuana charge was dropped in exchange for me accepting guilt on the “failure to appear” charge. My punishment was a 300 dollar fine — nothing more, nothing less. I paid the fine and that was October 2004 — 6 years and 9 months ago.

    Last year (in September / October 2010) a background check carried out by some private company in Canada turned this up, which resulted in me not working in a certain foreign country where I had just about been hired. (I ended up working in a different country.) Now I’ve been hired for a decent wage in still another country, but I have to have a state background check performed. (I’m in my “home” state and this conviction happened in another state.)

    Finally, my question is: is a failure-to-appear misdemeanor conviction from a different state 6 years and 9 months ago for which my punishment was simply to pay a 300 dollar fine likely to appear on my state criminal background check ?

    Is there anything I can do ? I don’t want to lose this job opportunity over this absolute nonsense — it feels to me like I’ve been punished repeatedly for a nothing thing ! …. Oh, God Bless America ! ! !

    • Al, thank you for the 6 paragraphs of useless info. Sorry, but I dont have time to wade through it. Maybe someone else out there can tell you that a misdemeanor conviction is a real crime.

      • June says:

        Failur to apper isn’t something a job looks for in a criminal record they look for charges real charges like Felony’s, Sexual abuse, Its been 6 years it is not as big as a deal like you think it is.

        • June, we approved this comment just to get it out. But again I have to caution users: A Failure to Appear charge is normally a misdemeanor crime. (See CA Vehicle Code 40508a Etc). A conviction of a failure to appear as a misdemeanor will create a criminal record. Many employers will automatically exclude or negatively evaluate people with any criminal convictions including a misdemeanor FTA. (CHP, FBI, School Districts, Banks, Armored car companies, Law Firms, any career where a state license is required – etc.)

          If you want a job at Startbucks or a car wash, maybe you don’t need to worry about a failure to appear conviction – but if you want to be an attorney, commercial truck driver, bus driver, bank manager, police officer, licensed accountant, teacher, etc you need to be concerned about any misdemeanor, no matter what the title.

  103. Chris Zamora says:

    I got bonded out of jail for driving with a suspended license in 2006 and , I did a criminal background check for the SAPD and it shows that im still out on bond for that same offense when I already paid all fines and I have received my license back already in 2007 . What can I do to clear this issue if anything ? Who do I have to talk to to get it cleared?Who can I call to get more information about this bond thats showing up?

    • Chris, this is an interesting question.

      Getting bonded out of jail has nothing to do with the final disposition of the case. Getting bonded out of jail does not mean the case is over. So forget about the part of the story where you got bonded out of jail. It does not matter at all.

      So what is left of this question?

      Just because you were able to get a drivers license does not mean the case is over. In fact, it has nothing to do with the court case at all. Forget about that part of the problem. It will not help you.

      So what is left of this question?

      You need to call or visit the court clerk for the courthouse where the case is pending and find out if it is over, or if not. Driving on a suspended drivers license is usually a misdemeanor crime – so you need to check with the criminal division court clerk. You may also have to check with the criminal division.

      But you probably already knew that.

  104. stacy says:

    I live in Missouri and am on probation for theft and is (SIS) so will this show on a employee background check .Since its not a conviction as Long as I complete the probation.

    • Stacy, I do not know the details of the law in that state, but this is a good, common question, so I will try to provide some useful info. Usually when a person is on probation, they have in fact been convicted. Probation is a sentence after a conviction, not a pre conviction test penalty.

      But, in some cases, such as drug court diversion cases, a case can be dismissed, and a conviction reversed after successful completion of probation.

      Either way – anyone looking for it could discover you are on probation. Criminal case records of all types are public records – unless you are a juvenile. They are not private in any way, unless a judge makes a specific order that a record be sealed.

      What I normally tell people is that when applying for a job, be honest about your background. It’s the lying that really screws people over.

  105. SPD86 says:

    I know that this is a common question and I have been trying to do my research but I was just wondering if my offense says DNU-child passenger safety seat system in the amount of $297 and is almost 2 years old… Would this be considered a misdemeanor if I have never been arrested or plead guilty? Also would this come up on the background check and disqualify me from employment? Would it be better to pay it and wait it out or don’t pay so that it would not be considered as as admission of guilt? Sorry …vry confused but thank you for all your help

  106. HT says:

    Thank you very much for your quick response Christopher. My schools program required an online background check thru ‘Pre-check’ which I came up ‘Clear’ on all categories 2 years ago before I could intern at hospitals and such. So I figured i’m okay not disclosing it, but this is through the state so I wasn’t sure if they “dig deeper”. I’ll be checking this out soon.

  107. HT says:

    About to graduate in the healthcare field, my chosen profession requires I pass the state board exam- on which the application states “ANY AND ALL CONVICTIONS OF CRIMINAL OFFENSES MUST BE DISCLOSED…… If your plea or verdict has been dismissed pursuant to Section 1203.4 of the California Penal Code and Section 2661 of the Business and Professions Code, you are required to disclose the conviction(s) on your application.” .

    I had 2 weed possession tickets (8 and 10 years ago) for which I completed diversion programs. I looked at those two “Section ____”s above, but I don’t understand what they mean, and don’t marijuana possession tickets (whether dismissed or not) disappear after 2 years anyway? Thanks, learned a lot from these discussions!

    • HT, if your cases were dismissed following successful completion of a diversion program, chances are you were never actually convicted. That is different than an expungement. I’d say go to the court clerks office and ask for the office record of the case and see what is there. Probably nothing. But, there may be no harm in disclosing them anyway.

  108. Rob says:

    Last month I pled no contest in Hawaii to criminal speeding (30+ mph over the limit), which is a misdemeanor. I got community service hours and mandatory traffic school that I completed in my home state of California. On an employment application, will I now need to say that I’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor? If I go through a background check for employment purposes, will this show up?

    • Rob, If the job application asks you if you have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor, and you have been convicted of one, then the truthful answer is “Yes”. In general, misdemeanor convictions are public records, and can be found by anyone who is looking.

  109. Terry Fields says:

    Will A Child Support Warrant Show Up On A BAckground Check?

    • Terry, do you mean:

      “Will a warrant, issued for contempt of court because I am accused of violating a court order for child support, show up on a background check?’?

      I assume you do. It’s really a contempt of court problem, and unfortunately, yes, it would show up on a thorough background check, because it is really a public court record.

      But the warrant is really not for paying (I suspect) – it’s for ignoring the case. Most of the time, a warrant problem is cleared up by showing up.

  110. EB says:

    Hi Christopher,

    In 2006, I was stopped for speeding. In the state where I live, criminal speeding is 96mph and over, and there is no option to go to traffic school. I was stopped for going 96mph.

    However, the officer made the mistake (and I know he didn’t mean to) of writing 95mph on my ticket, which reduced it to a civil violation.

    He told me I would have to go to court, and set me up a date during the traffic stop. However, I contacted the state that same day and they said since it was for 95mph, I could go to traffic school, which I did, and the ticket was expunged, and never appeared on my DMV driving record. I never had to go to court, nor contact anyone from any court.

    My question (finally) is, will an extensive background check uncover this ticket, or will I be in the clear? The job I’m applying for requires an extensive criminal and driving record check. Thank you very much for any info.

  111. Eric says:

    Thanks so much!!

  112. Eric says:

    O, I’m sorry – its PC 640(b)(1) – found it on web:
    640. (a) PC
    Any of the acts described in subdivision (b) is an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and by community service for a total time not to exceed 48 hours over a period not to exceed 30 days, during a time other than during his or her hours of school attendance or employment, when committed on or in any of the following:

    (1) Any facility or vehicle of a public transportation system as defined by Section 99211 of the Public Utilities Code.

    (2) Any facility of, or vehicle operated by any entity subsidized by, the Department of Transportation.

    (3) Any leased or rented facility or vehicle for which any of the entities described in paragraph (1) or (2) incur costs of cleanup, repair, or replacement as a result of any of those acts.

    640. (b)

    (1) Evasion of the payment of any fare of the system.

    • Eric, if you want to walk in and plead guilty – the correct way to do it is this:

      “Your honor, I am willing to give up my right to a trial and enter a plea of no contest based upon the understanding that it is an infraction, and not a misdemeanor. I request that the court suspend all or a portion of the fine under its authority from Penal Code section 1385 because there is good cause in the form of the fact that this infraction was the product of a pure, unintentional mistake on my part, and because any fine would create a great financial hardship on me and my family.”

  113. Eric says:

    I got a fare evasion citation for failing to validate (time-stamp) an 8-ride pass on Caltrain. I’ve seen a lot of Caltrain conductors give the passenger who failed to validate their pass a verbal warning and let the passenger go. Unfortunately, the conductor who checked tickets that day was very strict and gave me a PC-604(b)(1) fare evasion citation, which is handled at a traffic court even though it is a non-traffic citation. I will go to arraignment, plead guilty, and hope that the $380 fine is reduced. I’ve called the court and was told the infraction will show up on my driving and DMV records. Do I need to tell my future employers about this infraction when filling out the employment forms? I would think this is equivalent to a driving infraction.

    • Eric, good question. Infractions are not crimes. You do not have to tell anyone about them. Misdemeanors are crimes. But before you plead guilty to anything, you need to ask the judge if it is a misdemeanor. It probably is. Whoever gave you info about that code section was smoking crack – and obviously did not go to law school (a common problem among court employees who pretend they understand the law).

      There is no such thing as Penal Code section 604(b)(1). And PC 604 states:

      604. Every person who maliciously injures or destroys any standing
      crops, grain, cultivated fruits or vegetables, the property of
      another, in any case for which a punishment is not otherwise
      prescribed by this Code, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

      So I would say if you are charged with 604(b)(1) you should demand a jury trial – because its not a real law.

      Finally, whether or not a conductor (or train worker) is usually nice to people does not matter at all. forget about that part of the story.

  114. Melvin Harris says:

    In 1972 I was arrested on a child endangerment charge in another state. The first time in court I believed that the Judge had dismissed the charge. When I recently took a fingerprint test I discovered that I now have a 1978 conviction of a Class 1 Misdemeanor. I have never been back to even visit this state. I have the docket number and statue code for this case. I am now getting ready to apply to temp job agencies and plan to put on the application about this conviction.

    1)Will this prevent me from getting a job with Temp agencies?

    2)After 32 years of this conviction record, is it possible that there is a outstanding warrant on me?

    • Melvin,

      Yea!!! A real question! Well written. Thank you for not telling me about where you live, your health, or your marital status!

      Here is the bad news: I am only licensed to practice in CA.

      Anyway, hold on . . . . I need to puke from the last comment . . . . . .

      OK, now I am ready.

      This brings to light a primary recommendation I make to people every day – NEVER, EVER LEAVE COURT WITHOUT PICKING UP YOUR PAPERWORK AND READING IT TO MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENED.

      But it looks like we do not have paperwork here.

      If your criminal record shows a conviction, that means that you were also probably sentenced to something. Jail? Fine? Community Service? Probation? I do not know. Cannot tell.

      Will the conviction prevent you from getting a temp job or assignment to a temp agency? Well, temp agencies are private companies. They make their own decisions on who to use and who to reject. They can reject you on this basis if they want to.

      But this is a very old case. And people usually only get into trouble with criminal records when they try to hide them. I'd say disclose it as a 32 year old misdemeanor. Tell them you are not sure what it was, because that is true. Tell them you don't even remember 20 years ago, much less 30.

      Then my second recommendation would be this: Call the court clerk at the court where the incident happened and ask if the case is closed. They probably destroyed the records long ago, and if they did, you have nothing to worry about. If they tell you there is a warrant, Hang Up Quick and hide in the closet!

      No, dont do that. Get the warrant info (bail amount, and instructions on how to get a court date) then write to me at cdort@dortlaw.com and I will try to get you a quality case review.

      But I'd bet that the records were destroyed, because in the 70's there were no copy machines, no internet, no Xbox, and the only people with a time machine was the government (and maybe Kurt Vonnegut who wrote about "Reagan for President" Bumper Stickers in 1964 - now that is trippy). And mice eat paper.

      Things have changed a lot since 1978.

  115. Gina Easey says:

    This is the world class site I learn any details about this. Who wants to blow off time interpreting the wasted S.F. Chronicle or N.Y. Times? Their large-minded newspersons’ bias is much speculative than the previous “dead tree” media.

  116. John says:

    I have a question…if i have a warrant out for an unpaid traffic ticket and i take care of it right away..will it still show up on a background check? or will it not

    • John,

      This is a common question. You are sort of looking at the problem in the wrong way.

      Warrants are not issued for "unpaid traffic tickets". Warrants are issued in these situations for a misdemeanor crime of either 1) failure to pay; or 2) failure to appeal (see vehicle code section 40508(a) and 40509). WAIT! Freudian Slip there people. Sorry. I mean Failure to "APPEAR", not appeal. Although failure to appeal is a problem too.

      Once you fail to pay a fine on time or failure to appear in court on a signed promise to appear, it is no longer a "traffic ticket". It is a crime.

      So, looking at it that way, if you take care of the warrant by going in and pleading guilty to a misdemeanor crime of failure to appear or failure to pay, you will be convicted of a crime that will show up on a criminal records check.

      But your question asks about a “background check” – which is very vague. I would say that if the person doing the “background” check is searching for misdemeanor convictions, then yes, a failure to appear or failure to appear misdemeanor conviction will show up.

      If this is important to you, I would recommend hiring an attorney such as me to handle the case for you – because if I were doing the work my goal would be to get the misdemeanors reduced to infractions, which would not create a criminal record. They way I get this done is by demanding a jury trial for the misdemeanors and forcing the prosecutors to do so much work that they just give up.

  117. bon says:

    I was arrested over 10 years ago in a car that had a marijuana pipe in the trunk. Will that show up in a background check?

    • Bon, not enough info here to answer your questions. But I can tell you this – there are many different types of background checks. Most will reveal all misdemeanor and felony convictions, regardless of age.

      People who are worried about old convictions preventing a new job opportunity should seek legal advice on whether or not they can get an expungement to clear the conviction record. Most DUI and DWI convictions can be expunged quickly by an attorney after probation has ended.

  118. Eric Martin says:

    I was arrested in 2003 on allegation of domestic violence. There was no charges press and the courts and charges was dropped. The courts issued a no prol. In 2005 the same individual made allegation again however I wasnt arrested but went to court. Complaintiff didnt show up to court and charges dismissed. Do I have to put this on Job application sense no convition was issued.

    • Eric, What you are required to put on a job application is determined by the employer. You have to list whatever it is that they want. If they ask you for convictions, list convictions. If they ask you for arrests, list your arrests.

  119. Tracy says:

    If I recieved court supervision and than completed it successfully, will it show that I recieved Court Supervision a year ago when my employer checks my driving record? I finished supervision and it said the case was dismissed.

    • I cannot tell exactly what your situation is, because you did not state what kind of offense you were convicted of. You only stated part of what your sentence was. So – here is the best info I can give you – “Court Supervision” generally does not have anything to do with your DMV record. DMV records deal with driving history, not a criminal history. If the employer is looking at your driving record, I recommend going to DMV to get a copy of it and see what is there first. – Chris Dort

  120. bg says:

    what happens if you are arrested for not paying traffic ticket, and u take care of it. Does it show up?

    ANSWER: Well, you did not give enough info. Show up where? What are you talking about.

    We can tell you this: if you plead guilty to a misdemeanor, yes, it will show up on your criminal history. If you were arrested, you have an arrest record.

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