Rhode Island State Background Check

Who is the right person to fill your current job opening? Employers use their own processes to identify the strongest candidate. An important component of that procedure is often a criminal background check. For some positions, this is a requirement by law; in other cases, it is simply a part of due diligence as you seek to make a decision with all the facts in hand. State-level criminal history reports in Rhode Island can offer valuable insights into your applicants.

Data Coverage Map

backgroundchecks.com offers statewide background checks for 45 states, including Rhode Island. This check relies on the central criminal record repository for the state maintained by the Bureau of Criminal Identification as part of the state Attorney General's office. Reports drawn from this repository include criminal information from Kent, Providence, Washington, Newport, and Bristol counties.

What may be reported on a state criminal history search?

  • Jurisdiction where record is recorded
  • Case number
  • Defendant
  • Charge
  • Filing date
  • Degree of offense, e.g. misdemeanor
  • Disposition
  • Disposition date
  • Sentence

Restrictions on Criminal Record Considerations

To ensure fair employment practices and proper usage of sensitive materials, state and federal law governs the usage of criminal background checks. In Rhode Island, employers seeking to learn about an applicant's criminal past or request a report must adhere to several rules. 

Ban the Box

The City of Providence created the first "ban the box" regulation in Rhode Island in 2008, removing criminal history questions from municipal applications and postponing background checks until after a candidate was considered job-suitable. The entire state followed with a law signed in July 2013.

The statewide ban the box law stipulates employers may not include any questions about criminal history on the initial application. Only applications for positions in which a criminal past would automatically be disqualifying are exempt. Once an applicant reaches the interview stage, the law allows for questions about criminal history.

Arrest Records

In accordance with the statute described above, employers may not ask about arrest records prior to the first interview. This applies to all public employers as well as private businesses employing more than four people. After that interview, it is permissible to take these records into account.

Conviction Records

In addition to restrictions on questions prior to the interview, Rhode Island employers who ask related questions on the application as a matter of law must do so by asking only about disqualifying convictions. For example, if a violent crime would lawfully disqualify an individual for a position, language such as “Have you ever been convicted of a violent crime?” would be acceptable, while “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” would not be compliant.

Credit Information

Rhode Island employers may not request a credit history check on an applicant without first notifying the individual that such a check will be performed in connection with the application.


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