How far back can an employer check criminal history on a prospective employee?

UPDATED: Jan 28, 2011

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How far back can an employer check criminal history on a prospective employee?

In MI.

Asked on January 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately there is no time limit for how far back an employer can check into a criminal record.  Some go back 20 years or more.  However, under certain circumstances a criminal record history can be "expunged".  This means that it can be cleared or at least sealed from public view.  Therefore, for most private sector jobs, your criminal record will not show up on an employment background check.  However, eligibility for expungement (setting a criminal conviction aside) depends on the offense charged.  In MI, the rules regarding eligibility can be found at the following site:

If you can neither seal or expunge your record, perhaps you can get a "Relief From Civil Disabilities" (or MI's equivalent).  Such a certificate will not clear your record but makes it so that your your record cannot be held against you for purposes of employment and/or licensing.

You should consult directly with a criminal law attorney on your area as to your specific situation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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