Conducting background checks on prospective hires is a common tool for ensuring an applicant is a good fit for an open job. While most employers start at the county level with their screenings, widening the scope beyond county lines is an important step for a more thorough background check. A responsible, state-level background check can provide you with information on applicants not just within your county but around your region and throughout your state.
At backgroundchecks.com, we are proud to offer statewide criminal background checks for 44 states, including New Hampshire. There are ten counties throughout the state of New Hampshire, which is dramatically fewer than most states in the country, and only three states – Connecticut, Hawaii, and Delaware – have fewer counties. Still, conducting a statewide background check is an easier way to expand the scope of a background check than running ten separate county searches. We offer that option to our clients.
The big reason that employers start at the county level with their criminal history screenings is that most criminal charges are filed at the county level. Since a person who commits a crime is more likely to do so close to where they live and work, county checks typically have the highest chance of finding criminal history in someone’s past.
State criminal databases are useful for expanding the scope of a background check because most law enforcement agencies or county courts throughout the state report to them semi-regularly. While these databases are never a completely comprehensive accounting of all county criminal records in the state, they do provide access to a large amount of information in one place.
The New Hampshire State Police is responsible for collecting the data reported from law enforcement agencies in a central databank, called the Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) repository. Searches of the CHRI repository collect information from the entire state, including data reported by counties such as Hillsborough, Rockingham, Merrimack, and Strafford. At backgroundchecks.com, we can conduct searches of the CHRI databank on behalf of our clients.
There are numerous state-level rules and federal regulations that govern how employers may use data derived from a background check in their hiring process. Employers planning to use this New Hampshire state criminal screening should understand these restrictions before proceeding.
On the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects against discriminatory hiring practices, while the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs how an employer can access and use certain information about an applicant. You can learn more about these restrictions by visiting the backgroundchecks.com Learning Center. All employers in all states are required to comply with these rules.
Beyond those federal background check restrictions, some states go further by implementing their own restrictions on criminal record usage. These additional restrictions may include banning the box laws that prohibit employers from making initial inquiries into criminal histories, restrictions on employers’ ability to consider arrest records as part of the hiring process, and more.
New Hampshire has only one explicit background check restriction in place: Employers in the state may not use convictions or arrests if a state court has chosen to annul the charges. So, if the state has expunged or sealed a candidate’s criminal records, New Hampshire employers are not legally allowed to use those records as grounds to disqualify the candidate from hiring consideration.
That particular rule reaches further into the hiring process than just the background check. Specifically, if an employer wishes to ask questions about criminal history on the job application, they must use the following language: “Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime that has not been annulled by a court?” This specific phrasing tells candidates that they do not have to disclose criminal activity that has been expunged or sealed.