Will an Arrest Show on a Background Check?

Yes, an arrest will show on a background check. In fact, anyone can perform a background check and obtain detailed information about your arrests, the outcome of each case, and details about the proceedings. Criminal records are public records, just like civil, bankruptcy, and traffic cases. This means anyone can view them, including potential employers, landlords, agencies, and lenders.

Does an Arrest Show on Criminal Record Even if I Was Not Convicted?

Unfortunately, all arrests appear on search results when doing a background check, irrespective of how the case ended. This includes not only charges that result in convictions or plea bargains, but also those that were dropped or dismissed, as well as acquittals. An arrest will show up even if you were not charged.

However, each court case on a person’s criminal record also provides the “disposition” (i.e., outcome) for the case. If you were arrested, but the case was dropped, the record will reflect “Nolle Prossed” or “Dismissed.” Of course, if you were convicted, the disposition on the record will state “Guilty.”

Information Contained in a Background Check

Background checks are quite thorough. Interested parties can do a federal, state, or county search and see all your public access records, from arrests and traffic citations to divorces and bankruptcies. For criminal cases, background checks show tons of information, including:

  • The charges;
  • The date of the offense;
  • The date the court decided the case;
  • The disposition of the case;
  • The judge presiding over the case;
  • The defense attorney; and
  • Even the bond amount, all related court dates, and detailed docket information.

How a Criminal Record Can Impact Your Life

Stains on your criminal record can be a huge stumbling block. They can:

  • Get you expelled from school: Colleges and other higher education facilities may kick students with criminal charges out of student clubs and associations, expel students, or deny college applicants entry.
  • Impede your career: Employers can fire you, potential employers might not hire you, and professional organizations can terminate your membership. (Read our blog post about getting a job with a criminal record for tips to work around these consequences.)
  • Limit housing and lending options: Landlords and lenders may deny your application after seeing charges on your record.
  • Tarnish your personal, public, and professional reputation: Regardless of the nature of your charges and the outcome of the case, merely having an arrest record can affect your public and private life. Social stigmas are hard to escape. Exes can use it against you in a divorce or custody case, community organizations might retract your membership, and potential romantic partners might think twice after seeing an arrest on your criminal record.

How to Handle Mars on Your Criminal Record

Be Honest but Constructive About the Arrest.

For arrests that resulted in dismissal, if you explain the situation and why you were arrested, the other party might be understanding. Even if the court did not decide the case in your favor, sometimes simply being straightforward and focusing on the positives can help.

For example, you might tell a prospective employer who questions an arrest for assault on your record, “Yes, those were some crazy days in college with a little too much roughhousing with roommates, but I sure learned my lesson.”

Explore Expunging or Sealing the Record.

It will not be easy to wiggle out of other types of situations, though. Some charges automatically ban you from specific career fields, e.g., DUI charges will bar you from commercial trucking, sex crime charges will prevent you from teaching in a public school, etc.

Because a tainted record can affect several areas of your life, you might consider filing for a sealment or expungement. You are welcome to speak with one of our sealing and expungement attorneys about the possibility of removing or hiding the arrest.

Expunging and Sealing Records

Florida provides a recourse for certain defendants that allows the court to seal or expunge certain criminal records. Sealing or expunging a case can effectively hide it from the public and help defendants shed themselves of the stigma that remains long after they have cleared their name or paid their dues.

  • Sealing a case: When the state “seals” a record, the court removes the case from public record, but still provides all the case information to certain government agencies upon request. 
  • Expunging a case: When the state “expunges” a record, the court will deny any party or agency access to the record, unless it is a government agency with a court order.

Note: To get your case sealed or expunged, your case must meet strict criteria to qualify, and you must carefully adhere to the sealing/expungement process.

Consult our Defense Team for Legal Counsel and Defense

If you have been arrested for a crime in Florida or would like help having your criminal record sealed or expunged, call Goldman Wetzel at 727-828-3900 for a free consultation with a criminal attorney.