According to the Equal Justice Initiative, there are more than 13 million misdemeanor cases filed in the US each year—and while many of those cases are dropped, dismissed or reduced, a not-insignificant number of people end up with convictions on their records.
Having a criminal record, including a misdemeanor charge or a simple arrest, can affect your ability to get a line of credit, a job, an education and a home for the rest of your life. So can others find out about a past misdemeanor simply by running a background check?
What does having a misdemeanor on your record mean?
A misdemeanor is a more minor crime than a felony, and it generally comes with less steep penalties—but it’s still attached to your name. That means that if someone requests a background check on you, they’ll likely see a history of your criminal record. (Using BeenVerified for employment, tenant, educational and credit screening is prohibited under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.)
Does a misdemeanor show on a background check?
A misdemeanor will show up on a background check in most circumstances. It’s a permanent part of the public record.
The exception is when a criminal record is sealed or expunged. Depending on state laws, an attorney may be able to get the court to seal or remove certain convictions so they no longer show on background checks, said David Reischer, a New York City-based attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com.
In a handful of states, misdemeanors may remain on your record but will not show up on a background check after a certain amount of time. There may also be a circumstance in which a background check doesn’t capture every public record—but you can’t count on that.
FAQ’s on misdemeanor background check
Do Class C misdemeanors show up on background checks?
Class C misdemeanors can show up on a criminal background check. While these are the least serious offenses and generally require no jail time, they do go on your record. However, in some states, these crimes may be expunged after a certain period of time or after you meet certain conditions.
How long do misdemeanors show on background checks?
Technically, misdemeanors remain on your background check indefinitely unless you have them sealed or expunged. There is no automatic expiration date.
However, whether someone can see an old misdemeanor charge on a background check varies by state. A handful of states follow the seven-year rule, which prevents background checks from reporting arrests, charges, and dismissals older than seven years, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. There is nuance within this guidance, though: in Texas, for example, the seven-year rule applies only to jobs paying less than $75,000 per year.
Misdemeanor background check: How to check if you have a misdemeanor?
One way to view your misdemeanors is to contact the state or local agency that manages criminal records, such as a public safety department or police department. You can also run a BeenVerified background check on yourself to potentially find information about your criminal history.