While the state of Louisiana follows US federal law (for the most part) when it comes to running background checks, there are some rules, regulations, and irregularities with the state laws pertaining to background checks you’ll want to be aware of.
Many of these rules and regulations have to do with criminal background investigations as well as “vital records” – records like birth, death, marriage, and divorce records, for example.
Louisiana also has some interesting differences from a lot of states around the country when it comes to how far back a background check can look, especially when it comes to criminal history.
We get into that (and more) in this detailed Louisiana background check guide.
Let’s get right into it.
Louisiana Background Check Info You Need to Know
While (mostly) everyone has the ability and opportunity to request a background check on citizens of Louisiana, employers specifically are not able whatsoever to pass the costs of running those background checks along to the potential employees themselves.
This means that if a Louisiana employer wants to run your background they are going to have to pony up the costs themselves, according to Louisiana state law RS 23/897.
You should also know that under the Louisiana Public Records Act (sometimes called the Sunshine Law) there are certain records that are considered “public records” and certain records that have been exempted completely from public view by the Constitution of Louisiana.
You’ll also want to know that all public officials have to respond to a background check request within three days of receiving that request, regardless of where that request initiated.
If public officials do not respond in time, citizens are able to initiate legal proceedings operating under the idea that those requests were either ignored or dismissed though they haven’t been outright denied.
Interestingly enough, however, Louisiana does not have a formal appeal process that citizens can take advantage of to get better (and possibly faster) relief through this kind of process.
As far as “banning the box” policies are concerned (policies initiated by Hawaii first before sweeping across the nation), Louisiana has those policies for certain sectors – but not all – and only makes them apply to certain “enclave five” positions.
Louisiana state law also requires background checks conducted by public sector employers to be initiated only after an initial interview has taken place. If no interview has taken place already, these kinds of checks can only be made if a conditional offer has been put forward to a public sector employee.
Employers in Louisiana are able to use the information that they discover in a background check as they see fit as far as how it impacts the overall hiring process.
Louisiana empowers employers to consider both the nature and the gravity of the situation and offense, how much time has passed since it occurred, and how this kind of behavior may impact the applicant at work going forward, too.
Can Anyone Look Up Someone’s Background in Louisiana?
Louisiana is technically considered a “closed record state” and requires anyone applying for a background check through state agencies to do so in writing (almost always physically) to gain authorization to move forward.
These rules were put in place with Louisiana state law RS 15/587.
The closed record state nature of Louisiana also means that the Louisiana State Police and Criminal Records Department has no authority whatsoever to conduct background checks on requests being made for immigration purposes, litigation purposes, residential or apartment renting purposes, any information having to do without state housing authorities, or work visa programs.
It’s also not possible to run background checks through the state police or the Criminal Records Department in Louisiana just for “personal uses”.
Employers (including out-of-state employers) have an opportunity to run background checks in the state of Louisiana with the help of the Louisiana State Police and Criminal Records Department, though.
Out-of-state employers will only be authorized for “conviction information,” however, in-state employers will be provided with a much more complete picture of a Louisiana citizen’s criminal background when they move through this kind of check.
These kinds of background checks can also be pursued by organizations related to:
- Board of River Port Pilots
- Daycare facilities throughout Louisiana
- Department of Justice requests
- Department of Labor requests
- Healthcare provider requests
- Request made by the Office of Vital Statistics
- Requests made by the Public Housing Commission
- Any requests initiated by the state Senate or governmental affairs organizations
- Any requests required by employers hiring employees that will be working with children
What Type of Info Shows Up on a Louisiana Background Check?
Depending on the type of background check being conducted in Louisiana, you may be looking at a host of information that wouldn’t have been available through any other means.
We are talking about information that is not available or accessible through traditional “open public record” searches, the kinds of searches you can almost always initiate online through a variety of third-party service providers.
Criminal background checks conducted with the help of the Louisiana State Police and the Bureau of Identification and Information are likely going to include information straight from the Louisiana Computerized Criminal History system.
This information includes, but is not limited to:
- Arrest information
- Disposition information
- Charge and conviction information (where applicable) and
- Incarceration information (where applicable)
Inmate records can be provided from the Louisiana Department of Corrections, with these records regularly including details such as:
- Personal information
- Mugshots when available
- Inmate location
- Registration number of the inmate
- Jail transfer details
- Current custody status
Court records can be found through the Louisiana Court System, though tracking them down is considerably more difficult in the state of Louisiana than most other states in the US.
Some of this has to do with the fact that a lot of Louisiana court systems simply haven’t brought their court history documents and data online whereas others have already made the step.
If you come across records that you need from a Louisiana court system that has yet to digitize it’s going to take a lot longer (and a lot more work) to get the information you’re looking for.
Those looking for records from the Louisiana Supreme Court can find them online or they can visit the Division of Archives, Record Management, and History directly.
Vital records are provided by the Louisiana State Registrar & Vital Records.
The information here includes birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce announcements, and similar information.
Birth certificates are available for the last 100 years from the date of the search, and death certificates are available for the last 50 years from the date of the search. Hard directly at the Final Records Central office in Louisiana, too.
Just remember that all of these records are only ever going to be provided to individuals that have requested a background check, have been approved by the official office responsible for those records, and only after they have provided a reasonable explanation for why they need those records in the first place.
Louisiana’s “closed system” doesn’t allow for anyone in the state to search for records on anyone else frivolously.
Why Are Employers Running Background Checks in Louisiana?
Though each employer will have different reasoning behind why they run background checks on all of their employees, at the end of the day it almost all comes down to the peace of mind that employers and human resource departments get when they have a peek at the history of potential employees.
This is not to suggest that anyone’s past is a predictor of the future (certainly not 100% of the time, that’s for sure). But it is a predictor all the same and is vital information for businesses in Louisiana to have access to when they’re making an important decision by choosing whom to bring onto their workforce.
These kinds of background checks also provide information and insight into the intangibles of potential employees.
Successful business owners want to make sure that their company culture is consistent, that new hires are going to be able to acclimate, and that the people they choose to bring on board are going to be happy and motivated to keep the company moving forward and growing.
Having a look at the kind of background that an individual has can help to identify whether or not they possess some of these intangible traits that are otherwise very challenging to interview for or quantify.
Finally, every smart business owner wants to make sure that they are eliminating as much legal liability and risk as they possibly can.
By conducting these kinds of background checks they gain a lot of extra peace of mind knowing that they aren’t bringing new employees on board that may cause trouble for the company later down the line.
Again, any example of criminal history is not a guaranteed predictor of future criminal behavior. But employers are going to want to know the kind of person they are hiring to better minimize risk as much as possible for sure.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Reach?
According to the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), there are no hard and fast time limits on how far back background checks can stretch when employers are looking at criminal history.
There are restrictions on how far back arrest records can be searched (without convictions), and that’s no further back than seven years.
In the state of Louisiana, however, there is a little bit more background check exposure for applicants and potential employees than there is in other states.
Louisiana will report felony convictions stretching back an unlimited amount of time, but they’ll also share information related to misdemeanor arrests, misdemeanor convictions, and arrests without any charges for an unlimited amount of time as well.
Louisiana citizens petition the court system to have parts of their criminal record expunged or sealed. This is a relatively long and drawn-out process, but it can’t prevent future employers from gaining access to legal records or criminal history that has no real bearing or standing on an individual’s life moving forward.
Those expungement or record sealing decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, obviously. They also have to be 100% initiated by a Louisiana citizen interested in expunging their record or ceiling them off the first place.
How Do I Run a Louisiana Background Check?
As we highlighted above, Louisiana is technically a “closed record state” and does not provide open access to sensitive information including criminal history, court history, or incarceration history.
Some vital records as well as your driving history can be accessed without having to jump through a lot of hoops. But for the most part, employers (and anyone else looking to get approval to run a background check) are going to have to go through a detailed and somewhat time-consuming application process.
There are four major departments that make up the bulk of the background check process in Louisiana:
- Louisiana State Police, Bureau of Identification and Information
- Louisiana Department of Corrections
- Louisiana Court System
- Louisiana State Registrar & Vital Records
All of them have their own background check application process, with some of them moving applications online and others still requiring a physical form to be printed out, filled out, and then submitted through the mail.
Some of those departments, however, have also started to implement “over the phone” application submission services. You’ll have to call that office directly and see if that’s something they’re willing to do, however.
General public records requests can be sent directly to the Louisiana Secretary of State, too.
These kinds of requests should include your name and your contact information, the document and records that you are looking for access to, the time period that you’d like to receive these reports by, and how you prefer these documents to be delivered to you (through the mail or digitally).
How Long Does It Take to Run a Louisiana Background Check?
Louisiana state officials have three days to respond to your records request, regardless of where that record request initiates from.
If, after three days, you have not received a response at all you can contact the department directly and see if they are willing to begin the background check process for you.
Most of these departments are willing to do so, though many of them will have a closer look at the timing of the request you made just to confirm that all of the legal ducks are currently in a row.
If fingerprints are required to initiate a request (some criminal background checks will require fingerprints to be taken) that it’s likely that you’ll be waiting between 15 business days and 21 business days to get your records back.
How Much Do Background Checks in Louisiana Cost?
In the state of Louisiana, you can expect to spend $26 on state background checks.
If you’re able to process your background check online you’ll be able to use any major credit or debit card to do so.
If not, however, you’ll need to make a check or money out for the total of $26 and submitted with your application. The check should be written to the department that you are requesting records from.
Are There Background Checks for Firearms in Louisiana?
In the state of Louisiana, like every other state US, all firearms purchased from Federal-Firearm License dealers and gun shops have to go through a background check before they are allowed to proceed.
The individual purchasing the firearm need to fill out Form 4473 (some gun shops have digitized this document, whereas others require it to be filled out in paper) and then submit that through the National Instant Background Check Service maintained by the FBI.
Louisiana does not require any individuals in the state to purchase a firearms permit if they are interested in open carry of those firearms, though the individual does have to be at least 18 years of age and needs to be legally able to possess a firearm under both state and federal law.
Those looking for the ability to carry concealed in the state of Louisiana are going to have to apply for a concealed carry permit from the Department of Public Safety. This involves a background check before approval is granted.
What About Louisiana Driving Records?
Finding Louisiana driving records is pretty simple and straightforward, with most of these records available directly from the Department of Public Safety website. You can find that website at www.dps.expresslane.org/officialdrivingrecord.
Individuals have the opportunity to search for their entire Louisiana driving record by conducting the search, though traditional third-party background checks only going to have access to a shortened and “highlight” version of the driving record.
More in-depth information about Louisiana driving history can be gathered by contacting this office directly, either through the phone or by visiting any local Louisiana DMV.
Can I Search Louisiana Sex Offender Records?
Louisiana maintains a full state registry of sex offenders and provides all of those records are available to the general public without any regulation, restriction, or hindrance whatsoever.
Through the Office of State Police and Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information, this database can be found online and is fully searchable 24/7, 365 days a year.
Visit the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections website (DOC.Louisiana.gov) and navigate to the Public Programs & Registry section of the site.
From there you’ll be provided with information about how to best search the registry as well as access to the database itself directly.
The information is regularly updated as well, though it may not be up-to-date to the minute decide to search the registry yourself. You can also create notifications to look for certain names or individuals that may be added to the registry later on, with an instant alert that they have been added sent directly to you.
How Do I Get Credit History During a Background Check?
Credit history information is always going to be accessed through the three major credit bureaus, something that the state of Louisiana has very little say over whatsoever.
These three organizations – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – have their own rules, regulations, and processes for background checks that employers are going to have to follow when they are looking for this information.
All of these rules, regulations, and processes must be in full compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, though.
For starters, this means that employers can only ever run your financial background after they have received your written permission and your signature giving them the green light to do so.
Secondly, if they use any of the information that they discover in your credit history to make a decision (one way or another) they not only have to disclose this information to you directly, but they also have to provide you with either a copy of the information that they are using to make this decision or directions for how you can access that information yourself.
Again, though, Louisiana officials and agents have very little whatsoever to do with how financial background checks are handled with the three major credit reporting bureaus.
That’s really up to those agencies, federal rules and regulations that dictate how they have to behave, and their own internal rules, regulations, and processes.
More information about running those kinds of background checks with those types of organizations can be found on their websites or by contacting their customer service department directly.