How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Utah?

Some employers make a point not to hire people who previously committed even minor crimes.  Even if the crimes are years old, some employers and some positions might be virtually inaccessible to those with a black mark on their criminal background check.  In most cases, employers do not look back too far, but old convictions might still make it harder to get a job.  Overson Law’s Salt Lake City expungement lawyers explain how far back background checks usually go and what you can do to help clear your rap sheet of old charges.

How Far Back Does a Background Check Look in Utah?

Typically, employers only care about your immediate past.  In most cases, an employer will understand that mistakes make while you were young might not indicate who you are today.  In general, background check services usually only look back 7 years.  However, this can still be a big problem for some applicants – and some background checks go back even further.

Generally speaking, a background check will look back 7 years into the past.  If you are 25 or under, this means that the background check will encompass your entire adult life.  However, these background checks usually will not find charges for juvenile offenses.  If you were under 18 when you were charged with a crime, it is usually treated as a juvenile offense and handled under a different system.  That means these charges should not appear on your criminal record and will instead be part of a sealed court record that a potential employer usually cannot check.

In some cases, your employer might want to look back further than 7 years.  Jobs involving commercial driving might check the past 10 years for DUI charges on your record.  Moreover, jobs or volunteer opportunities where you will be working with children might involve more strict background checks.  These could look back through your entire life, flagging any crimes – especially sexual offenses or crimes involving child victims.

Generally, this 7-year background check is only limited by what the employer chooses to look for.  The record that the government keeps about your past criminal history goes all the way back, and police and court personnel can usually see entries dating back to when you were 18.  Employers might not care to look back that far and might consider anything older than 7 years not to be an issue.

What Charges Appear on a Utah Background Check?

What crimes appear on your background check will depend on what type of check your employer runs.  Many employers run only a criminal record check, which means that they will not look at other court records or driving records.  This might mean that only criminal convictions appear, which might exclude everyday traffic offenses like speeding or running a stop sign.  This might also skip over anything short of a conviction, meaning that arrests, pending charges, dropped charges, and dismissed charges would not appear on this record.  However, if they run a check of your driving record, they might find additional traffic offenses – and a check of court records might detail further entries, such as arrests, probation violations, and other legal issues.

Many employers also limit the scope of the check they run to look only for felony convictions.  This, once again, means that pending charges might not appear, but it also means that only charges for serious felony offenses will appear.  Felonies typically include serious violent crimes, sex crimes, high-dollar theft offenses, and other serious offenses.  If you committed misdemeanor crimes like simple assault or shoplifting – or infractions such as disorderly conduct – those charges might not appear on your record.  If the employer runs a full check to look for misdemeanors and infractions as well, these charges might appear.

Expunging My Criminal Record in Salt Lake City

If you are worried that your employer will use an old conviction on your record against you, you are not alone.  Having a criminal record makes it harder for many people to find employment and housing, and not being able to find a job with a record can increase the chance that people will commit more crimes and be sent back to jail.  One way to help keep your criminal record from affecting you today is to clear the record.

Utah law allows record expungement, which will seal any record of older convictions.  If you are eligible for expungement – and if the offense is eligible for expungement – your lawyer can help file to have the record sealed and wiped away so that potential employers will usually be unable to see this record.

To qualify for expungement, you typically need to have already paid all fines and served all jail time related to your offenses – and you cannot typically apply for expungement if you have other charges pending now.  You must also wait a certain period of time for the conviction to be sufficiently old enough to expunge.  This waiting period changes depending on the level of crime:

  • 10 years for DUI and some other crimes
  • 7 years for felonies
  • 5 years for felony drug possession charges
  • 5 years for class A misdemeanors
  • 4 years for class B misdemeanors
  • 3 years for other misdemeanors
  • 3 years for infractions

Some crimes cannot be expunged no matter how old they are.  Crimes like murder, violent crimes, felony DUI, vehicular manslaughter, and sexual offenses are usually not eligible for expungement.

Call Our Salt Lake City Expungement and Record Sealing Lawyer for Help Clearing Your Criminal Record

If you are worried that old criminal charges on your record might make it harder to get a job, contact our lawyers today.  The Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers at Overson Law help people with old criminal records get their charges and convictions expunged so they can move forward with their lives and seek meaningful employment and other benefits.  For a free legal consultation to learn more about what will show up on your background check and how to get your criminal record wiped clean, call our attorneys today at (801) 758-2287.