Ohio’s Attorney General Reveals Troubling Updates to Background Check Laws

By Michael Klazema on 2/5/2013

In Columbus, Ohio, the Attorney General’s office revealed changes to their background check records. As of now, background checks processed by their office will no longer show any records that did not result in convictions. In other words, employers who use their background checks will not be privy to arrests or charges if there was no conviction. This is in order to protect those who might have been arrested under false pretenses and had charges that were later dropped. Although the change is meant to protect such people, others fear it will keep important information from potential employers, thus giving them a false sense of security concerning their applicants.

For the most part, these changes will affect the records of juveniles, adults with recent arrests that have not yet been resolved, and adults who violated bail in years past. Ohio’s criminal investigation agency has already begun the process of letting employers know about the changes. However, they are just one group among several that are not on board with these revisions. Steve Raubenolt, Deputy Superintendent of the Ohio Bureau of Investigation, said the changes are “giving prospective employers a peace of mind about someone they shouldn’t have.” He gave examples of his concerns, saying the bureau recently processed police department background checks for applicants who had drunk driving arrests and even a pending murder charge. The murder charge was never closed, because the accused was found to be mentally incompetent. While that may free her of any conviction, it still doesn’t make her any better of a candidate to become a police officer. Had the new changes been in affect at the time the background checks were processed, those two people might have been hired and put into highly-sensitive state positions.

Even the Attorney General himself, Mike DeWine, expressed concern about several juvenile offenders who probably shouldn’t be considered for certain jobs. These include serious crimes such as rape convictions, aggravated murder, murder, and more. While these offenders may have technically been youths when they committed the crime, he’s not sure if that makes them any less dangerous as they age. As a result of his concerns, he is urging lawmakers to fix the issues inherent in the new laws. County clerks of courts are also being urged to report case results as soon as possible. Lawmakers have already heard some of these concerns and may be willing to make changes. State Senator Bill Seitz claimed the new laws weren’t meant to reward those who, “never showed up and faced the music,” but there were many other unforeseen consequences of their changes. On the other side of the issue, Senator Shirley Smith claims there’s no reason to change the law, and she doesn’t want employers to “rush to judgment and prohibit a person from going to work when they have not been convicted.”

If you are an employer who plans to use background checks, it’s important to choose a company like who can give you more details you might want  to consider to make an informed decision. Besides looking for a variety of criminal records including non convictions with their US OneSEARCH tool, which has access to countless sources across the nation, it might also be a good idea to invest in Ongoing Criminal Monitoring, so you can be made aware of any new records that pop up after hiring.

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