What’s Included in a Criminal Background Investigation?

, , | February 6, 2023 | By

Conducting criminal record checks helps employers make more informed hiring decisions, reducing risk and liability. It's likely why roughly 92% of companies conduct background screenings as part of the hiring process, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Whether you’re interviewing job candidates or volunteers, knowing what information a criminal record search will yield is essential. In addition to identity verifications and court record searches, there are several other components to a criminal background check. They include search quality, turnaround times, and your provider's technology.  

Basic Elements of a Criminal Background Check

Roughly one in three Americans have a criminal record. A routine search may not always turn up everything. That’s why you want a provider that does an exhaustive search of all relevant and available criminal records.

When searching for a criminal record check provider, make sure they include the following elements in their investigations.

Address History Trace

A comprehensive history of a candidate’s address includes current and past names, aliases, birthdates, and addresses within the last seven years. Social security numbers help verify these types of information, including U.S. citizenship.

Criminal Record Database Searches

A quality database search should provide access to over 450 million records, such as

  • Arrests, including those not resulting in convictions
  • Court orders, decrees, and judgments
  • Felony and misdemeanor convictions and pending cases
  • Incarceration records

While federal database searches limit reports to the past seven years, some states provide records for up to 10 years. Also, criminal background checks generally do not yield information on civil court cases.

County Court Searches

County courts keep records of all criminal offenses over the past seven years. Some county searches come up with criminal traffic offenses. However, in other counties, they only appear on motor vehicle reports (MVRs). An MVR should not be part of a standard criminal record check unless driving is essential to an employee's job.

Sex Offender Registry Search

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) allows for monitoring all sex offenders after their conviction and release from incarceration. A background check includes a sex offender search covering all U.S. states and territories.

Other Elements To Consider

In addition to the previous core components, there are many qualities that you should look for when hiring a background check provider. These additional considerations are essential when screening both employees and volunteers.


Quality means getting above and beyond what you pay for. A quality screening provider has a solid track record of thorough and accurate investigations. They also follow a transparent process that leaves no information gaps.

Efficient Turnaround Times

The hiring process can take considerable time. That’s why a screening provider should report their findings promptly. If there are delays, your provider should regularly update you on their progress.

Customer Service

When you contact your provider for customer service, you want to know they’ll take care of you. In addition to answering your questions, the company should proactively offer insights on best practices and tips for avoiding costly errors. Also, check if your provider offers other services like volunteer inspections and health and drug screening.


Getting the most accurate and thorough results requires using the latest technology. Employers aren’t the only ones who should benefit from the most advanced software and tools. Your provider should also enable prospective employees and volunteers to access the technology to provide their information and see their screening results.


Learn How You Can Partner With BIB

With a business or organization to run, you probably don’t have the time and resources to conduct quality criminal background checks. At BIB, we’ve been using the latest technology and industry knowledge since 1995 to remove the guesswork and help organizations make better hiring decisions.

Call us at (704) 439-3900 or visit www.bib.com today to learn more about our comprehensive services. You can also download our free ebook for best practices for screening volunteers.