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Background checks are becoming more and more popular these days, but along with the rise in their popularity, there's been a rise in confusion over what should and should not "count" toward a hiring decision. If a sitter has committed a petty offense, should you cross him or her off the list right away? How about if a police report was filed, but no action was ever taken? Read on to learn about how to correctly categorize offenses — and learn which are deal breakers and which are not.
The basic facts
If you took Law 101, you know that crimes can be divided into three classes, according to their seriousness. The least serious group of offenses that might appear on a background check are petty offenses. A subgroup of misdemeanors, petty offenses are very small crimes. They typically will be tried before a magistrate in a summary proceeding, and the entire matter is usually handled in a few hours once the defendant appears in the court. Petty offenses are things that often simply result in a fine — traffic violations, speeding tickets and minor infractions of local law all count.
Misdemeanors are a higher class of crime and include offenses that might result in either a fine or a short sentence. Examples might be driving under the influence or shoplifting.
Felonies are the highest offenses and often result in a jail sentence and/or a high fine.
When evaluating things that come through on a background check, it's important to keep an open but rational mindset. If a candidate has a misdemeanor or felony, it's usually safe to discard their resume right away. But if their offense is a petty crime, you might want to examine the importance of the crime. For example, if it's one speeding ticket and they will not be driving on the job, you might want to cut them some slack. Another good way to evaluate a candidate is to ask them about the petty crime that appears on their record. If they are able to explain it in a calm and rational manner, chances are they are unlikely to do it again.
If a sitter's background check comes back with an unverifiable identity or address check, this is often due to an identity mix-up, or a mistyped address. Simply talk with your sitter and background check agency to re-run the check with the correct information. It can sometimes take one month to correct, but the upside is that no legal infractions are associated with the sitter.