Do Arrests Show Up on Background Checks?

by Ambrosio Rodriguez | Feb 01, 2024 | California Law
Do Arrests Show Up on Background Checks?

Background checks are a standard part of various processes, from employment screening to housing applications. They can significantly impact individuals who’ve had encounters with law enforcement and carry an arrest record. These background checks may limit opportunities in several areas for such individuals.


Given the consequences tied to a criminal history, it’s important to understand what exactly a background check is, what shows up on it, and what your rights are, as well as what you can do to mitigate potential collateral consequences of having a criminal history. 

What Exactly is a Background Check, and What Shows Up on It?

A background check is a process typically conducted by potential employers or other parties to review and verify an individual’s personal and professional history.


One key aspect of such checks includes examining one’s criminal history or arrest records. In addition to criminal convictions, arrests will show up, as well as information regarding your credit score, schools you’ve attended, and whether you’ve ever been evicted.


Other data sources may also be explored during a background check, including workers’ compensation records, sex offender registration databases, and driving records (which is particularly important if the background check is being done for a job that involves using a motor vehicle).

Know Your Rights Regarding Convictions and Background Checks

Background checks are legal in California, but there are specific laws regulating how they can be used by employers in a way that respects individuals’ rights and prohibits discrimination.

California’s Ban the Box Law

One such example is California’s Ban the Box Law or Fair Chance Act (AB 1008). Implemented on January 1, 2018, this legislation makes it illegal for private employers with five or more employees to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until after issuing a conditional offer of employment. 


If any past convictions are discovered once the conditional offer is made, the employer must perform an individualized assessment of the applicant prior to making a hiring decision.

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws also come into play regarding background checks. Under these laws, California employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.


These protections can extend to the consideration of criminal records in employment decisions. If an employer completely denies employment to all applicants with any type of criminal record without considering individual factors, this could be seen as discriminatory.


This is because certain racial and ethnic groups statistically have higher rates of arrests and convictions. Thus, a blanket policy denying employment based on a criminal record might disproportionately impact these groups and could be perceived as racially or ethnically discriminatory.


Understanding your rights regarding background checks allows you to navigate the employment process and other situations more confidently, advocating for fair treatment under the law. 

What To Do if You Have a Criminal History

If you have a criminal history that stands to affect your future opportunities, there are several methods available for dealing with unfavorable information on a background check:


One option is expungement, which effectively erases certain convictions from an individual’s criminal record. If a conviction is expunged, it no longer needs to be disclosed to potential employers. 

Certificates of Rehabilitation 

A Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) in California is another form of relief for individuals with a criminal conviction. This is essentially a court order that declares you’ve been rehabilitated following that conviction. 


Although this doesn’t remove the offense from your record, under the Ban the Box law, providing evidence of rehabilitation can support you if an employer decides to deny employment based on past convictions.

Sealing Juvenile Records 

Having your juvenile records sealed could also be an option. Sealing records essentially means the court restricts access to your file, causing all documents within it to become hidden from public record. 


When this happens, past juvenile offenses won’t show up on background checks, and you can legally deny having a criminal record when asked (if you don’t have other convictions).

Seek Legal Help To Discuss Your Criminal Record and Options

If you’re interested in exploring these options further, it’s advised that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a California criminal defense lawyer.


Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Law Firm of The Rodriguez Law Group Today For Help

For more information please contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense law firm of The Rodriguez Law Group for a free consultation, give us a call at (213) 995-6767 or visit our convenient location:

The Rodriguez Law Group – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
626 Wilshire Blvd Suite 460, Los Angeles, CA 90017, United States