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Charged But Not Convicted: Do Dismissed Cases Show on Background Checks?

By Michael Klazema on 6/26/2018

Does a dismissed case show up on a background check? If you have previously been arrested and charged with a crime but didn’t end up getting convicted for that crime, then the answer to this question may interest you.

The first thing to note is that most employers are looking for criminal convictions. There is a reason that questions about criminal history on job applications (at least in areas where ban the box legislation is not enacted) are phrased as “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” A conviction is proof of guilt in the eyes of the law. An arrest or a dismissed charge either indicate innocence or suggest that there wasn’t enough evidence to bring about a conviction. Either way, employers will usually understand the difference and won’t look at dismissed cases in the same way as they would at convictions.

With that said, the question of whether a dismissed case will show up on a background check is a tricky one. In most cases, dismissals and not guilty verdicts will show on your criminal record. Cases that go as far as a charge or a criminal trial are different than cases involving arrests that never lead anywhere. In many states, employers are not legally permitted to inquire about arrest records or hold them against job candidates. There is no similar law or trend for dismissals.

Bottom line,  candidates should be prepared for their dismissed charges to show up on an employment background check. Unless those cases have been expunged or sealed, they are part of the public record and can, therefore, be found and reported. However, if your case did not result in a conviction, then you probably are not expected to disclose it in most employment situations.

Do you want to know what employers see when they run a background check on you? Use backgroundchecks.com’s self-check product to prepare for your job search.


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