A person conducts a background check on you, aiming to examine your past to see how it relates to your present circumstances. Companies, prospective employers, and even landlords are known to run background checks before deciding how to handle a particular person. Your history could expose information about your life that you would prefer to keep private, including your criminal record.

For example, a background check could reveal to a prospective employer how many crimes or misdemeanors you have previously been charged with or convicted of. Any unfavorable information on your credit report, previous convictions, the schools you attended, and attendance dates are additional factors a crucial person can discover in your background check.

But you can use legal procedures like expungement and requesting a governor's pardon to remove some adverse information from your background check. If your background check results are hurting your life, like making it difficult for you to find a good job, it helps to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer will explain a criminal background check, what it shows about you, and how to get it cleared so that you may start over. Additionally, they will stand up for you in court and fight for a favorable outcome for your situation.

Understanding What a Background Check Entails

Companies and employers conduct background checks to learn more about a person's past. A background check is the procedure used to compile a list of a person's criminal history. Employers and businesses can conduct background checks independently or with a third party's assistance. When an employer conducts this check independently, they could do it with fewer details. As a result, the data they gather will not be very helpful in making decisions. For this reason, most businesses choose to work with a neutral party or an investigation reporting firm.

These organizations conduct background checks on people or companies, compiling the information they find and selling it to interested parties.

The Kind of Information They Can Find in Your Background Check

Background investigations provide a variety of details about a person's life, like the following:

  • Your prior felony and misdemeanor convictions of, going back seven years from when the check is done.
  • Every adverse item on your credit report.
  • Details about your workers' compensation.
  • Your educational institutions and attendance dates.
  • Negative information about housing, like records of prior evictions.
  • Military data, like the time you served, your ranks, honors, and assignments.

The following sorts of information are prohibited from disclosure to or used by employers or businesses:

  • Arrests that do not have a conviction record, excluding those that are still awaiting conviction.
  • Convictions that are older than 7 years from the day the background check is conducted.
  • Convictions that you have received a governor’s pardon for.
  • A conviction for which you completed rehabilitation or treatment.
  • Expunged and sealed records.
  • Some marijuana-related offenses.

Employers are legally permitted to contact your references and run background checks on you to learn more about your past. Your references can consist of the following:

  • Neighbors.
  • Previous employers.
  • Work colleagues.
  • Family members and friends.
  • Role models and mentors.

Your character, work ethic, reputation, behavior, overall attitude, and personality qualities are all crucially outlined in these references.

Remember that criminal history checks performed by employers only go back seven years from the check date. It is because there is a seven-year guideline that governs employers. Once you receive a conditional job offer, an employer can only run a seven-year history check on you. Convictions that occurred more than 7 years ago will not be visible to your future employer and will not be grounds for disqualification.

The Source of Information on Your Criminal History

Background checks comprise a wide range of data acquired from several sources, including criminal and civil justice organizations. A potential employer or corporation can discover the following sources of information about you in your background:

  • Arrest, court, and criminal records.
  • Credit information from various consumer reporting companies.
  • Records from your worker’s compensation.
  • Education records.
  • Your references.
  • Tenant history.
  • Checks writing history.
  • Vehicle registration or DMV driving records.
  • Insurance claim reports.
  • Immigration records.
  • The sex offender registration lists.
  • State licensing data.
  • Social security data.

Background checks sometimes compile data from each of these sources simultaneously. Just a few can be gathered in a single review.

The kind of data a firm or employer can obtain from specific sources is occasionally subject to legal exemptions. For instance, a person's medical history is kept private to preserve privacy. Only data on potential employees that could aid in hiring decisions may be retrieved by employers.

The Legality of Background Checks

Conducting a background check is typically legal. However, while performing background checks for employment, employers and businesses are subject to specific legal requirements or limitations. The following categories have some of those limitations:

Ban The Box Statute

The following requirements apply under AB 1008, the Ban the Box Act, which went into effect in 2018:

  • It makes it illegal for employers to check a candidate's criminal background.
  • Before giving the candidate a conditional job offer that they can accept.

Companies cannot inquire about a candidate's criminal history during interviews before making a conditional job offer.

Private companies with more than five employees are subject to this rule. Employers can inquire about a potential employee's criminal history during the recruitment process. However, they can only do it after giving the employee a conditional job offer. The condition is based on the employee's capacity to fulfill several requirements, like:

  • Passing the background screening.
  • Reviewing their criminal convictions (when applicable).

The law prohibits employers from automatically rejecting you for employment if they discover that you have prior criminal convictions. To determine your suitability for work, they must examine you individually. That necessitates the employer considering several additional factors before making a hiring decision. These additional factors include:

  • The type and severity of the crime or your behavior.
  • If your criminal background is significantly related to the specific responsibilities of the job you want,
  • How long has it been since you committed the crime or completed your sentence.
  • The kind of work you are looking for.

After this evaluation, employers can reject a job applicant, provided their choice is in the company's best interests. Following this evaluation, your prospective employer is required to notify you in writing of their preliminary decision. At the very least, you have five days to reply to the notice with proof of any mitigating circumstances or your rehabilitation. For example, evidence showing you finished a rehab program or community service. If you respond to the notification, it is only fair for the employer to consider your response.

An employer can choose from the following options after careful consideration:

  • To hire you for the job.
  • Deny your application based on the information on your criminal record.

Fair Chance Laws

Before the Ban the Box Act was passed, fair chance laws were in place in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Ban the Box statute also provides many of the rights afforded by the fair chance law. These specific statutes give those with negative criminal histories a fair shot in the following ways:

  • If a potential employer denies you employment or takes extreme action based on your criminal history.
  • You can legally provide them with evidence to support your qualification for that employment.

But because ban-the-box legislation gives job seekers better protections, several localities have since changed their bylaws.


Cipa is the statute that defends information privacy in California. For example, it stipulates that hiring managers must obtain the applicant's permission before running a background check on them. Employers are not permitted to conduct background checks in-office under this regulation. If that is the situation:

  • The employer should give you the option to see the report of that check.
  • And give you copies of that report if you exercise that option.

Anti-Discrimination Statutes

State and federal regulations prohibit recruiters from discriminating based on race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. It implies that businesses can break the law if there is a policy requiring them to turn down job applicants with a criminal background. It results from Latinos and African Americans having the highest rates of convictions and arrests than other racial groups. A blanket exclusion of individuals with a criminal history can seem discriminatory.

How To Clear Negative Data From Your Criminal Background

Fortunately, various ways exist to remove damaging information from your criminal history. That will rid your background of all the drawbacks and limitations that come with having a bad criminal record. To complete the following procedures effectively, you could enlist the assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer:

Expungement of Criminal Records

An expungement can free you from the harmful effects of a criminal conviction. PC 1203.4 contains the laws on expungement, which permit anyone with a criminal conviction to have it expunged or wiped after completing probation or a jail sentence. You can still be eligible for expungement if you break a probation requirement. But the judge has complete discretion over that.

After the judge approves your expungement petition, you are not required to tell a potential employer about your conviction. Even if the company makes a conditional job offer, that should still be true.

Fortunately, both felonies and misdemeanors are eligible for expungement.

A Certificate of Rehabilitation

It is a court-issued order that certifies you have fully rehabilitated from a certain criminal conviction. PC 4852.01 to PC 4852.21 govern the eligibility requirements and the certificate application process. In general, the following individuals are eligible for the certification:

  • Those with a felony conviction and were sentenced to a penal prison or institution.
  • Those with a felony conviction and received a probationary term from the court and had their conviction record expunged.
  • Those who were guilty of a minor sex-related offense under PC 290 and had their record sealed.

Applicants must also meet the following conditions:

  • They must have lived in California for five years or more.
  • They were rehabilitated for two to five years after their release from jail/prison, parole, or probation.

In this context, rehabilitation refers to when you have been out of legal trouble.

Remember that receiving the certificate will not expunge your conviction from your record. The record will still be visible to prospective employers. However, if the employer rejects your employment application, you can provide the certificate as proof of rehabilitation under the Ban-the-Box law.

Governor’s Pardon

Individuals who have changed their criminal behavior are granted a governor's pardon. It absolves them of all the consequences of their conviction. Keep in mind that if the governor has already pardoned a sentence, it is illegal for employers to access and use that information.

Sealing Juvenile Criminal Records

Your juvenile records can be sealed under WIC 781, making them inaccessible to anyone running a background check on you. When a record is sealed, the judge closes your case, and all related documents are deemed to have been destroyed. However, to request the court seal your criminal record, you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 or have not undergone the juvenile justice system in the past five years.
  • You are an adult and have no conviction for a crime of moral turpitude.
  • A juvenile court has not found you guilty of major crimes like murder, robbery, or torture after age 14.

Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If a background check is performed on you in Sacramento, does your criminal history or the criminal history of someone you love adversely affect your life?

It is helpful to know how background checks operate, what data they contain, and how they could affect your life even after rehabilitation. You can learn more about criminal background checks, their ramifications, and your alternatives from a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. At the Foos Gavin Law Firm, we can also assist you in figuring out how to delete harmful material from your criminal record to lessen its impact on your life. Call us at 916-779-3500 so we can review your background check results. Then, we can brainstorm approaches that could be helpful in your situation.