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Do Arrests Show Up on Background Checks in CA?

Arrest Impacts on Employment

Getting arrested and charged for a crime is scary for various reasons. Not only is your freedom on the line but also your livelihood. Jobs are a central part of most people’s livelihoods and provide the financial support needed to live and succeed. But a particularly large barrier to employment for many Americans is their criminal history, including arrests.

While a conviction is more serious and detrimental than a sole arrest, many states consider the two equally when screening prospective employees. You may have experienced them yourself, but background checks are a standard component of the hiring process and can help or hurt your chances of securing employment. A considerable amount of US employers considers applicants’ criminal histories when determining whether or not to hire them.

In California, however, employers must follow a strict set of laws in the pre-hiring process to give applicants a fair chance at getting hired. According to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, it is unlawful for an employer with five or more employees to consider, distribute, or disseminate any of the following information while conducting a conviction history background check on you:

  • An arrest that was not followed by a conviction, except under the following circumstances:
    • An employer at a health facility can disclose certain arrests if the position involves regular access to patients and any access to drugs and medication
  • A referral to or participation in a pretrial or posttrial diversion program
  • Any convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated pursuant to law, or any conviction for which you have received a full pardon or was issued a certificate of rehabilitation

These laws were imposed as part of California’s statewide “ban-the-box” movement, an effort to help people with criminal histories have an equal chance of employment as those who were never arrested and/or convicted of a crime. As a result, these rules level the playing field for all California residents and can help countless individuals establish and succeed in their professional lives.

If you were arrested and charged for a crime but not found guilty, you are legally protected from being discriminated against, even during the pre-hiring process. Thus, even if you are not an employee (yet), you have rights, and they must be upheld at all costs. For more information, please contact us at (707) 418-5352 today!