Background Check for Felonies: Your Guide

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( — September 23, 2022) — Felonies are a common item on criminal background checks that employers, landlords, or other companies will look for on your record as you apply for jobs, housing, or certain loans. It’s important to understand the background check process as it relates to felonies so you have a better idea of what an individual may be looking for when they check for criminal history on your report. Our article helps answer these questions.

What Is a Background Check?

A background check is a report that is compiled of public records and other publicly available information about your personal history. Background checks are often requested as part of the hiring process, especially if you are applying for a job that works with security or around vulnerable populations, but you may also have a background check requested of you when applying for loans or rental housing. 

Many states have laws about how far in your history background checks are allowed to pull information from and what individuals can do with the information they learn from your background check. Furthermore, employers must get your consent to run the check and will typically need to notify you of the nature of the background check – the individual requesting the report will discuss this process with you in more detail.

The Importance of Background Checks

While many people may think that background checks are an annoying, time-consuming step to take, they are very important for employers, landlords, and banks or financial institutions. A background check gives a complete, concise report about an applicant’s history and allows an employer to verify whether or not that person is honest, qualified for the position, and unlikely to present a danger to themselves or their potential coworkers. 

In addition, background checks act as a form of identity verification and ensure that a potential employee won’t create problems in the future.

Understanding Felony Background Checks

The type of background check that will look for felonies on your record is a criminal background check. These checks are performed either by using your name, social security number, or fingerprints to search through public records. General background checks will note any felonies or other criminal activity. If you have to undergo a federal or other government background check, these will usually go into further detail about your criminal history and take longer to complete.

In addition to felonies on your criminal background check, you can expect to see information regarding other criminal activities such as convictions, misdemeanors, DUIs, fines or jail time, and arrests. 

The only criminal information that will not be included on your background check is information that is older than seven years (or whatever the cut-off is for background check reporting in your state—this number varies) or criminal records that have been expunged and are sealed.

Will a Felony Cause Me To Fail a Background Check?

Having a felony on your background check may not be the most opportune thing, but it doesn’t mean you will automatically fail every background check. Whether or not your criminal record causes you to fail background checks depends on what you are applying for and the company culture.

Additionally, many laws today aim to encourage fair hiring practices and stop the automatic disqualification of those with certain criminal backgrounds. 

You should check the hiring and employment laws in your state and review the conditions of housing and loan applications to understand what may cause a failed background check report.

Evaluating Your Own Record for Felonies

If you aren’t sure if certain aspects of your criminal history are on your background check report or not, or if you are curious about what your background check will look like to potential employers, you can run a background check report on yourself. 

Simply input your name and city information into’s public record search, and you will be able to review any of the publicly available information, including felonies and criminal history. 

Staying informed about what your background check may show is a great way to apply to jobs, as it allows you to be prepared and speak honestly about any points of concern on your report because you know exactly what will be included in it.

Stay Informed of Your Background Check Report

A background check for felonies can be stressful, especially if you aren’t sure whether or not previous felonies will show up on your report. However, staying informed about what your background check shows and understanding your rights regarding background check information is the best way to gain confidence and make the background check experience as stress-free as possible.