When looking to get a background check done in the State of Florida, you’re going to need many details. Below you will find our comprehensive guide that answers almost every question asked about a Florida background check.
Types of Background Checks in Florida
Florida has two different types of background checks, Level 1 and Level 2. Here are the differences and the details about both:
Level 1 Background Check – These background checks are considered ‘state only’ and are based solely on a person’s name. They reveal an individual’s criminal history, including both state or local offenses and their employment history.
This type of background check will also run the individual’s name through the National Sex Offender Registry.
Level 2 Background Check – This is a more comprehensive background check that includes the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the FBI. They will perform an extensive look into an individual’s background and require a fingerprint check.
Both of these levels of background checks will reveal the criminal history, if any, of the individual searched. There is an extensive list of prohibited offenses for both Levels 1 and 2 on the Florida State Government website.
Note: Florida is currently the only state with a specific provision on Level 2 background checks, which means that only employees within Florida are subject to the pre-screening system.
How Much Does a Florida Background Check Cost?
You can acquire a background check (criminal history report) from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for $24. This may not include all the details you needed for checking the background of potential applicants for employment.
Therefore, you can check with some online providers that offer a wide range of background check options. Keep in mind that the cost will vary depending on the background check’s extent and the provider’s fees.
Can You Obtain a Free Background Check in Florida?
There are some websites online that offer free Florida background checks. The information provided by these companies may not be as accurate or include all the details you need.
Suppose you want to perform a background check on a potential new hire. In that case, you should consider using a more reliable source for your background check to avoid liability risks.
How do I Get a Background Check in Florida?
Any member of the public can ask for a criminal history check on any Florida resident. When obtaining these reports, you will be able to see any arrests and or conviction records that the state’s database has maintained.
However, this information is not free, and you will need to pay for the reports requested. Usually, an official background check in Florida is asked for or used by potential employers and law enforcement agencies for various official purposes.
The unofficial background check is typically completed by accessing the public databases maintained under the laws in Florida. Almost all government agencies are required to provide access to the public for any records in Florida.
However, it is up to the individual to find out how to access the records they seek. Although individuals can’t use an unofficial background check for official purposes, they are beneficial to individuals wanting more details about:
- Distant Family Members, Friends, or Relatives of Friends
- Neighbors or Co-Workers
- Roommates or Romantic Interests
- Potential Partners
- Enemies or Groups of People
You can easily conduct an unofficial background check just by visiting some of the websites maintained by the State of Florida. You’ll probably need to do some requesting of documents through other agencies required to provide public access.
Background Checks for Employment Purposes
If your potential employer is requesting a background check prior to hiring you, they normally take care of the background check’s cost and all the documents needed to perform the screening.
The results are then delivered to the employer in hand for review. The potential employer will notify you of your results and whether or not they can continue with your onboarding process.
Top Two Reasons Employers Run Background Checks in Florida
There are several factors employers take into consideration when hiring new employees. One of the most critical details is performing a background check on a potential new hire. Here are some of the top reasons employers conduct background checks:
- Company Policy
It’s standard practice for most employers to run background checks on their potential new hires. In Florida, every company receives an incentive to do so and is then protected should something happen with that employee.
- Management Positions
Any job that involves authority or the handling of finances requires a background check. This is just one of the many ways a business protects its assets.
How Long Does a Background Check Take in Florida?
Depending on the type of background check you are doing, you can expect to see results as early as the same day from some private companies. However, suppose you decide to use the state for your report. In that case, it can take five to seven business days once the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) results have been received.
Level 2 background checks are strictly confidential and never shared with anyone other than the person screened. If more details are needed, the AHCA will notify the individual screened through certified mail.
The FDLE will use the address submitted with the file for the applicant. When additional information is required, it can delay the entire processing of the background check. If there is a delay, the employer should notify the applicant.
The fingerprints are done via Livescan and can take anywhere from 24 to 72 business hours for the results to transmit to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Keep in mind that requesting any local court records can be timely and often takes up to several weeks to complete.
What All Shows Up On a Background Check in Florida?
Depending on the type of background check performed, you can expect to see the following details show up on a background check:
- Felony and Misdemeanor Convictions
- Pending Criminal Cases
- Civil Judgments
- Arrests that Resulted in Convictions
- Traffic Violations
- Sex Offender Database
- Address History
- Education History
- Employment History
- Prison Records
- Domestic Terrorist Watch List
Some of the above have to be requested by an employer for the pre-employment screening. Expunged or sealed convictions can only be seen on a Level 2 background check. Traffic violations are only visible on FBI screenings, as well as the sex offender database, which is also available on the Level 2 background check.
Pre-employment background checks do not include felony or misdemeanor convictions, nor civil judgments and prison records.
Background Check Laws in Florida
Individuals in the State of Florida have some legal rights when it comes to background check laws. However, there are very few limits on how employers can use background checks to determine employment eligibility. In fact, Florida law offers minimal protection for the applicant.
Some counties in Florida limit the use of background checks for employment purposes, meaning they don’t allow employment decisions to be based solely on arrest records. However, it goes further than that:
Florida legally permits an employer to request any arrest records that an applicant has on file. But, many criminal history background checks won’t include any arrest records.
Private and public employers in Florida can use a Florida background check and other various forms of background screenings to check potential employees. However, public employers can only disqualify a candidate for a first-degree misdemeanor conviction or felony, but only if that crime committed is related to the job position being offered.
Private employers in Florida are permitted to consider all of the conviction histories when making an employment-related decision, including any misdemeanors. Employers must take into consideration the nature of any criminal convictions and how they relate to the job in question.
There are severe consequences for an employer with a known policy for rejecting individuals with a criminal history. In fact, if the employer is accused of any employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it can result in serious penalties.
Expunged or Sealed Records
Any applicant with an expunged or sealed record does not have to reveal this information to a potential employer. These records for arrest or convictions are kept under lock and key and will not show up on any background check performed in Florida.
However, a Level 2 background check can reveal expunged and or sealed records.
The State of Florida has zero statewide ‘Ban the Box’ legislation laws on the books at the current moment (this could change at any time). Many of the different jurisdictions in Florida have adopted their own local laws or ordinances that limit an employer’s ability to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history on a job application.
The following jurisdictions have banned the box for all public jobs:
- Daytona Beach
- Fort Myers
- Miami-Dade County
- Pompano Beach
- St. Petersburg
And these six jurisdictions prohibit employers from conducting background checks on their applicants until after they’ve made a conditional offer of employment:
- Daytona Beach
Note: Private employers currently are not legally required to follow any ban-the-box laws in any jurisdictions in the State of Florida.
What is ‘Ban the Box’ Laws?
The ban-the-box laws were created to allow individuals with any criminal records the same opportunities as other applicants to present their ‘true’ qualifications for the job they are applying for. This also eliminates the chances that an employer will use any criminal background as an excuse not to hire an individual.
Employers should consider all applications with the proper qualifications for the position at hand without using criminal history to prejudice the process. Many individuals who support the ‘Ban-the-Box’ laws believe that people should not be penalized for past activities, including criminal records.
Do Criminal Convictions Show on a Florida Background Check After Seven Years Have Passed?
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has limitations that some Florida background checks are subject to and must be followed accordingly. The FCRA’s ‘7 Year Rule’ states that certain criminal records must be removed from an applicant’s history after seven years have passed.
These records can include most civil lawsuits, arrest records, any judgments against the applicant, and tax liens that have been paid. The FCRA also implements additional restrictions on employers in Florida. The FCRA typically requires every company to:
- Get permission from an applicant prior to conducting any background checks.
- Notify all applicants of the consequences when the background check contents could potentially disqualify them from being offered the position they applied for or the employer offering a lesser role due to the background results.
- Provide every applicant a copy of their background check that was received by the potential employer.
In addition to the above, employers who run background checks on potential new employees have to make sure the details they receive in the background report are accurate and current per the FCRA regulations.
An investigation by the reporting agency will be required if the applicant disputes any of the background check’s details. If this happens and the inquiry can prove the background check findings are inaccurate, the employer and applicant will receive written notices.
An applicant can be entitled to file a claim under the FCRA if the background check service provider or employer fails to follow all the requirements set forth by the FCRA.
What is Florida’s ‘Government in the Sunshine’ Law?
Florida has a law known as the ‘Government in the Sunshine’ law, which provides unlimited access to almost all government records associated with public members. This law has established regulations that require government agencies to make certain documents available to the public.
The law also dictates which documents agencies have to consider confidential and the expectations expected when these documents are obtained and viewed. It has also established a process that allows public members to request access to records that are typically kept confidential.
Florida Incentives for Performing Background Checks
Many employers throughout the State of Florida conduct state background checks on all new hires due to the state’s protection as an incentive for doing so. This incentive is beneficial when a company is facing any negligent hiring lawsuits.
As long as an employer runs a detailed background check on a potential new hire and doesn’t uncover any major red flags, the business will earn a presumption of innocence in any negligent hiring cases.
This remains true even if the employee in question caused an injury to another employee, customer, or other things. The fact that this employer took the initiative to conduct a detailed background check will legally protect the company from any negligent hiring lawsuit.
What Shows Up on a Background Check in Florida?
Many employers will seek details about a potential employee’s previous employment, criminal history, and possibly information about an individual’s credentials and education. However, the employer sometimes wants other details depending on the position the applicant is applying for.
If any potential candidate has a previous criminal record, a Florida background check could include the following details:
- Type of Charge (Felony or Misdemeanor)
- Details of the Charge(s)
- Filing Date
- Disposition of the Case and Date
- Sentencing Details (if any)
If a potential employee has fabricated his or her previous work history on a resume or application, a background check will identify the discrepancies, if any. This will include each previous job’s dates of employment as well as the positions held.
This helps an employer determine if the applicant is qualified for the position they are applying for. Furthermore, it also shows how trustworthy and transparent the individual is with revealing their past histories.
Companies need to be careful when hiring potential employees that need specific diplomas or certifications. Therefore verifying degrees and certificates is part of the normal process in hiring for most upper management positions.
Some businesses will do an education check on all management levels and even some positions that are considered key but not management.
The results from an education verification background check will include all the details about each school the applicant attended and whether or not a degree or certification was granted.
How Far Back in History Does a Florida Background Check Go?
Some rules established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) detail how far back a background check can go in the State of Florida, along with the rest of the states.
According to this law, Credit Reporting Agency’s (CRAs) are not permitted to report or release any details of an arrest record that was not registered as an actual conviction.
This law also restricts employers from using these details for any hiring purposes or decisions that took place more than seven years ago. In fact, employers are forbidden to rely on these types of information when making any employment decisions about the applicant in question.
Unless you’re applying for a position at a company that has a pay grade above $75k, then none of the CRAs can report the following types of details for any employment purposes:
- Civil judgments or lawsuits that are older than seven years or past the statute of limitations
- Any arrests that did not result in a conviction and are older than seven years
The above-stated time limits do not pertain to education or employment verifications. These do not have any statute of limitation laws protecting them.
It used to be that CRAs were prohibited from reporting any criminal convictions that were older than seven years; however, that is no longer the case since the Fair Credit Reporting Act reversed that rule in 1998.
How Long Does a Background Check Take For a Gun in Florida?
If you want to purchase a gun in the State of Florida, federal law requires that all federally licensed firearms dealers perform a background check prior to the sale of any firearm. The exception being private sellers, where a background check is not mandatory.
Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state ‘point of contact’ and allows them to conduct all their background checks while using state and federal databases and records.
They can also choose to have all their background checks performed by the FBI using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database.
However, Florida is considered to be a ‘point of contact state for the NICS, which means that all firearms dealers in the State of Florida have to initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Once the FDLE receives a request to perform a background check, they will review any available records to determine if the said buyer or transferee is prohibited from purchasing any firearms due to one or more of the following:
- Felony Conviction
- Convicted Misdemeanor – Crime of Domestic Violence
- Adjudicated Mentally Defective
- Committed to a Mental Institution by the Court
Florida put into effect a risk protection order law in 2018 that authorizes any law enforcement agency to petition a court for a civil order preventing any person deemed as dangerous from having access to firearms for up to one year.
When a risk protection order is issued, the issuing court clerk has up to 24 hours to forward that order to law enforcement. It is entered into the Florida Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center, making it immediately available to all background checks.
The FDLE has up to three business days to determine whether the disposition of any indictment, forthcoming information or arrest. They then need to inform the dealer (seller) as to whether the buyer of the potential firearm is, in fact, prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm in the State of Florida.
As the above shows, your background results for a firearm purchase can take up to three business days. If the dealer does not receive any feedback on your background check, you can normally pick up your firearm on the fourth business day.
Note: Federal nor Florida law requires any private firearm sellers (non-licensed dealers) to perform any background checks when transferring a firearm to another person.