Can A Sex Offender Pass A Background Check?

Can a sex offender pass a background check? An employer’s ability to use the information found through a sex offender’s registry search depends on state law. Employers face fewer restrictions on the use of records obtained through a regular criminal background check.

Whether a sex offender is able to pass a background check depends on the type of background check carried out, the hiring policy of the employer, and state law.

Can A Sex Offender Pass A Background Check With A Recent Conviction?

Can A Sex Offender Pass A Background Check

All criminal background checks show recent convictions. A conviction for a sex offense will be visible on a background report even when a separate search of the sex offender’s registry isn’t carried out.

Employers have the right to use background check sex offender history when making a hiring decision. Depending on the employer’s screening policy, a sex offender with a recent conviction may be refused employment.


Does Sex Offender Show Up on Background Check With An Older Conviction?

Older convictions won’t always show up on a background report. Why? In some states, the law doesn’t allow background checks to reveal convictions older than 7 years.

In those states, if a sex offense is older than 7 years, a regular criminal background check won’t report it.

If an employer requests a criminal and sex offender background check, then a current registration will be reported because the 7-year restriction doesn’t apply to information on the sex offender’s registry.

Most states don’t restrict background checks to 7 years and in those states, the full criminal history (which will include sex offenses) is reported.

Following the implementation of Megan’s Law, a sex offender’s registry was established in every state and the information on the registry is accessible to the public.

Sex offenders may be required to register as sex offenders for life or for a shorter period. Those without a lifetime registration requirement won’t appear on a sex offender’s registry search once their period of registration is over.

How Can Employers Use Sex Offender Registry Information?

How Can Employers Use Sex Offender Registry Information?

A background check with a sex offender search will typically run a multi-state sex offender registry search.

However, state law may not allow employers to use sex offender registry information.

California state law prohibits the use of sex offender registry information in employment decisions. The potential penalties for improper use of this information include a fine of up to $25,000.

Note: If a candidate tells the employer they’re a sex offender, then there are no restrictions on using that information.

In New York, employers can’t use criminal background information in hiring decisions unless the offense has a direct link to the type of employment sought.

For example, if a person applies for a job on a construction site or in a factory and they have a record of soliciting a prostitute, the offense has no bearing on their suitability for the role.

In California and other states limiting the use of sex offender background check information, some exceptions allow employers to refuse to hire sex offenders. This is the case when employers have a duty to protect at-risk people. This may include hiring for:

  • Education positions
  • Daycare staff
  • Coaches
  • Healthcare positions involving direct patient care
  • Services for disabled people
  • In-home care
  • Legal or management positions
  • Financial positions
  • Communications staff

Even in the absence of restrictions limiting the use of sex offender information, employers should carry out a case-by-case evaluation to ensure they comply with employment discrimination laws.

Points to consider include:

  • How long ago did the offense take place?
  • How old was the offender at the time?
  • How serious was the offense? (some states class public urination a sex offense, for example)
  • Is the offense relevant to the duties and responsibilities of the job?
  • Is the offender considered rehabilitated, or are they at high risk of reoffending?
  • Who will the employee interact with at work?
  • Are sex offenders legally barred from this type of employment?
  • Is the employment location unsuitable because of proximity to a child safety zone?
  • Would hiring a sex offender pose a risk to employees or clients?

What Does A DOJ Sex Offender Search Level 1 Mean?

DOJ Sex Offender Search Level 1

For certain jobs, candidates must be cleared through a fingerprint background check. These background checks are carried out via the state Department of Justice.

A DOJ sex background check will search state records and (if required) contact the FBI for a national criminal history database search.

When a background check reports a DOJ sex offender search level 1, this means the offender has a low risk of re-offending.

Sex offenders are classified according to their risk level.

  • Level 1 sex offender: Lowest risk of re-offending – minimal risk to the public
  • Level 2 sex offender: Moderate risk of re-offending – moderate risk to the public
  • Level 3 sex offender: Highest risk of re-offending – high risk to the public

Key Takeaways

Whether a sex offender can pass a background check depends on the age of the offense and state background check limits.

When a background check includes a sex offender registry search, older convictions are more likely to be reported, especially if the offender has a lifetime registration requirement.

Some states don’t allow the use of sex offender registry information for hiring decisions unless the employer has a duty to protect vulnerable people.