Can a Criminal Background Check Be Shared?

Introduction to Background Checks

A background check is an investigation into an individual’s or organization’s personal and professional history. It is a process that includes compiling information on his or her complete record that includes employment, criminal background, commercial and financial records, and other relevant information. Technology now allows for extensive amassing of all forms of data that can be accessed either gratis or for a nominal fee. 

Background checks are an increasingly common occurrence for multiple reasons. Parents and individuals may do a background check on a potential dating partner or mate (for themselves or their child) to determine the individual’s legitimacy and, perhaps, intent. Employers now often make it a habit to run a thorough background check on potential employees to ensure they are not surprised by some unpleasantry once the individual becomes an active member of the company. Government and private companies each undertake the process of background checks to be informed and proactive

criminal background check

What is Included in a Criminal Background Check

What is included in a criminal background check is dependent, in part, on the parameters set by the person or company seeking information. For example, an employee background check may be quite broad. It could include a review of an individual’s:

  1. Check of arrest records found in county, state, federal & international databases – and including indications of misdemeanor and felony convictions

  2. Employment history – to determine the authenticity of prior work history claims and identification of previous work inconsistencies. The employer is looking for honesty and integrity or indications to the contrary. Most employers are legally bound to maintain secrecy regarding such employment information, but it is still a valuable resource for indications of gross differences.

  3. Registry on a sex offender list – this is a piece of data that cannot be removed or expunged without extensive legal interventions. It is a common indicator of severe issues that can be used to legally prevent employment in many areas and in personal background checks can be a cause for ending a relationship.

  4. Education and licensure verification – fraudulent education resumes, and licensures can prevent employment or be cause for dismissal if uncovered after employment has been tendered. Licensure verification is key to practicing a variety of jobs.

  5. Motor vehicle reports – excessive motor vehicle violations can prevent employment in certain fields such as truck driving. More and more employers are finding these types of violations to be an indication of a disregard for the law and, as such, may find the individual to be too risky for employment.

  6. Credit check – this is the most controversial of investigations as it relates to employment but not for personal reasons. Many believe a person’s credit should have no bearing on employment offers but it is becoming a more common practice. Again, it speaks to a person’s character according to some investigators. On a personal level, many men and women do not care to become involved in a relationship with a person who has handled their credit poorly.

  7. Social security number scan – the use of an invalid social security number is a criminal offense. 

  8. Drug screening – the use of drugs often automatically eliminates an individual from the running for a job opportunity. The risks on the part of the employer are usually considered to be too great – even for the more commonly and legally accepted use of marijuana.

Can my Employer Share Information About my Criminal Background?

Human resource staff are usually the investigators and recipients of vital, private information garnered from background checks. They are bound to keep this information private from a person’s coworkers. However, if it is relevant to the performance of a position – such as in the case of a prospective teacher who is on the sex registry – the information must be made available to management on a ‘need to know basis’. This is the type of information the background check is intended to identify and use as a benchmark for employment and most would agree this is legally and morally correct. 

Criminal Background Information

However, the question of an employer’s ability to share information about someone’s criminal background is subject to greater legal scrutiny. For instance, if an employee has been fired for an offense that is of a private nature – such as having an affair with a coworker on school grounds – this can be shielded from the public and the employees let go for a cause but without indications of a reason that can be listed in public records. Human resource departments and similar organizations are bound by certain rules of confidentiality that protect an employee from future discrimination when possible – even if their behavior would be relevant to future employers. 


Background checks have become a regular part of the personal and professional landscape. Information about what was once deemed private is now as close as your fingertips. Most people don’t realize this information has always been available through county and state records. It seems that only recently the average individual is empowered to find out more about the people they let into their lives. Perhaps the best advice is to reflect on your behavior before acting – because the consequences may be irreversible.