Let’s face it. Today’s economy is tight and jobs can be hard to find. There is also a concomitant rise in instances of violent behavior in the workplace, splashing across the headlines far too often. This means that you likely will encounter instances where former, or even current, criminals apply for jobs in your organization.
Many states, counties, and municipalities are in the process of enacting laws that “ban-the-box,” prohibiting inquiry about criminal convictions during the application process. The intent is to provide rehabilitated and non-violent offenders a “second chance” to lead law-abiding lives and earn a decent living, legally.
But, where does that leave you, an employer trying to protect current workers, clients, your company, and its very reputation, when it comes to keeping potentially dangerous individuals from being hired? Negligent hiring practice lawsuits are all over the news, and large sums of money are being awarded to victims of workplace violence.
What Crimes Are Considered Federal Offenses?
A review of the types of crimes that can be prosecuted at the federal level will give you an understanding of why it could be important for you to know if a job candidate you are considering has committed federal offenses. Although most federal crimes do not, necessarily, involve violence, they are indicative of a person’s nature.
The following types of crimes are subject to federal prosecution, under either Title 18 of the United States Code (USC), which outlines the federal criminal and penal code, or under Title 26 of the USC, which covers tax evasion and weapons possession violations of the National Firearms Act:
- Drug offenses (the manufacture, sale, import/export, traffic or cultivation of illegal substances and subsequent transportation of said substances across state lines or national borders)
- Assassination (or the attempt thereof)
- Immigration offenses
- Electoral fraud
- Damaging/destruction of public mailboxes
- Museum art theft
- Violations of the Patriot Act
- Violations of the Espionage Act
- Tax evasion
- Violations of the National Firearms Act
- Obscenity violations
- Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act
- Hate crimes
- Computer crimes
- Identify theft
- Credit card fraud
- Child pornography
- Bank robbery
- Aircraft hijacking
- Mail fraud
- “White collar” crimes such as:
- Wage theft
- Ponzi schemes
- Insider trading
- Copyright infringement
- Money laundering
Who Uses Federal Background Checks?
Federal background checks are commonly used by employers to vet prospective high-level corporate executives, medical professionals working with children or older adults (who are most vulnerable to abuse), banking professionals granted access to sensitive financial data, public-sector employees at most levels, and law enforcement officers. Federal background checks are even being used by landlords to vet tenants for certain high-value properties!
Where Does Federal Background Check Information Originate?
Federal criminal background checks provide case data on prosecutions in U.S. District Courts, or those that have been appealed through federal appellate courts. Note the difference from a national background check, which only includes information from court records of states, counties, and tribal territories. Federal background checks can be performed either by specific federal districts, or by all federal districts within a certain state or group of states.
In order to get the most comprehensive picture of a job applicant, it is highly recommended that prospective employers conduct both county- and state-level background checks, in addition to a federal background check. This is especially important for positions involving the public’s trust.
What’s in a Federal Background Check?
The typical federal background check will provide: information related to specific government clearance levels, arrest records that reflect the charge, date of offense, and how long the accused remained in custody, records of crimes committed on state property or which crossed state lines during their commission, any felony convictions on record, other criminal records, lawsuits, and Social Security Number.
Additionally, there may be information revealed regarding any crimes that were committed involving the sexual exploitation of children, as well as information regarding any illegal purchases or sales of firearms.
Why Is a Federal Background Check Necessary?
We live in unpredictable and violent times. To ensure that your employees, clients, your company, and its reputation do not suffer harm from newly hired employees, exercising due diligence in criminal background checks is critically important. Federal background checks are necessary to give you a complete and comprehensive picture of any job applicant.
This level of background check is especially necessary if you are hiring for high-level executive positions, certain medical positions that serve vulnerable populations, positions involving financial data, and, of course, any positions involving law enforcement or the public’s trust.
This more complete picture of a potential job candidate gives you an added level of confidence that you are hiring the best, and the safest, employees for your critical and sensitive positions. We here at Crimcheck stand ready to assist you in this process.