Does a 5150 Show Up On a Background Check?

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A 5150, also known as a 72-hour hold, is the involuntary hospitalization of someone going through a mental breakdown. The legislation on how the procedure is done will vary from state to date however the most commonly used is California’s welfare and institutions code, which is a 5150.

Whenever a person is deemed to be a risk to themselves or the public due to a mental health problem they can be held under section 5150 for 72 hours without the person’s consent. This can be a crucial action taken for the safety and the safety and well-being of someone going through an extremely difficult time – but are there long-term consequences?

If you’ve ever been held under a 5150 before then you might want to know if it shows up on a background check

After all, if a 5150 hold shows up on a background check, that could affect future job prospects, couldn’t it?

The answer to this question is a good news/bad news scenario. In many cases, a 5150 will not show up on any conventional check as it will be considered confidential, but there are some exceptions.

Does a 72-Hour Hold Go On Your Record?

When does a 72-hour involuntary hold go on your record?

  • When this is attached to a crime that was committed, mention of the hold will likely show up on background checks because normally private information is directly tied to a criminal act, which is public information
  • When a judge orders a 72-hour hold, as that will be part of public records

If that mental health hold was due to committing a crime, then it will show up during a basic check because court records are public records. The only potential exception is in the rare case these records are sealed, which sometimes happens with juvenile court.

When does a 72-hour involuntary hold not show up on background checks?

  • Any 5150 that is not tied to a criminal record is considered a private medical record and therefore an involuntary mental health hold will not appear on any background check unless connected to a crime

As long as there was no crime committed and it was simply an episode of bad mental health then the 5150 won’t show up during a background check because mental health treatment falls under private medical records. 

As we explained above, a 5150 will only go on your record if you get a criminal record in the process of a 72-hour psych hold. A mental health hold isn’t a criminal conviction which means there will be nothing on any juvenile or crime-related record about it.

It will only show up on your medical record, which is private and any potential employers won’t have access to it when doing a background check on you. 

This is for your privacy as US law states that medical records are confidential and thus the only people who have access to them are agencies like medical staff or police on rare occasions if they have a warrant.

What Is the Difference Between 5150 and 5250?

A 5150 and 5250 both mean the same thing in that they define a time in which someone had been involuntarily placed in a hospital due to an episode of bad mental health. The only difference between the two is the amount of time.

A 5150 means you were kept for up to 72 hours, whereas a 5250 means you were kept for a period of up to 14 days. 

At the end of a 5150 the hospital staff will determine if you’re mentally able to be released or not. If you don’t fit the criteria they can decide to keep you in for longer which turns it into a 5250.

A recruiter should not find out about this either way on a conventional check as mental health issues are normally considered a private matter except in extreme situations.

Does a 5250 Hold Go on Your Record?

As a 5250 hold requires a longer stay which typically indicates a more serious problem, it still won’t go on your record as long as you didn’t receive a criminal conviction for it.

A 5250 is still classified as a mental health hold which only makes it appear on your medical record and thus won’t show up during a background check.

Who Can See 5150 on Your Record?

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The only people who can see a 5150 on your record will be those who have access to your medical records such as paramedics, nurses, and your doctor.

As it’s part of your medical record, which is different from a criminal record, the only people who can see it on your record will be medical personnel or police if they have a warrant to do so.

There are very specialized jobs where allowing access to your medical records is a prerequisite, in which case they would find out about any psychiatric hold, but except for those specialized situations unless it’s tied to a criminal background check these will remain private.

Should You Disclose a 72-Hour Hold to Your Employer?

It’s completely up to you whether or not you want to disclose a 72-hour hold with your employer. 

There is no legal obligation for you to tell an employer about your mental health history, and it’s almost certainly illegal for them to ask you about it. Mental health is quite a taboo subject and some people don’t like to talk about it, which is completely fine. 

Even though there are laws prohibiting not hiring based on disabilities, that doesn’t mean this doesn’t happen. Generally speaking, it’s best not to bring these up during a job interview process as it is very unlikely to help but can absolutely hurt your chances.

The only reason you should disclose a 72-hour hold to your employer is when you received a criminal record in the process.

In this case, it’s going to show up because of that arrest or crime and therefore it’s better to tell them about it upfront and take the chance to give your story on what happened. 

Where Can I Go for Legal Help with My 5150 Hold?

Legal Help with My 5150 Hold

Being placed under a 5150 hold by a medical professional isn’t something that you can directly refuse as it is enforced by law for the safety of someone who is temporarily not in the right state of mind.

A psychiatric hold is considered protection for the individual’s welfare and does not violate their rights, nor is it considered an arrest in and of itself.

However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have any rights while under a 5150 hold. 

You have the right to an explanation as to why you’re being placed under the hold, which should be done by a qualified officer or clinician. During your 72-hour hold, you also have the right to treatment and evaluation. The entire reason behind your hold is to access your mental health and provide treatment.

If you don’t feel like this hospitalization is justified, then you’re also entitled to contest the hold and seek a legal representative like a mental health attorney who can help guide you through the legal process and make sure your rights aren’t being violated.

Mental Health Issues Don’t Appear on a Background Check (Usually)

To summarize, your 5150 will show up on a normal background check only if you committed a crime that caused the hold to be sanctioned.

However, you can have your mind put at ease knowing that as long as a crime wasn’t connected to it, that hospitalization will not show up on any checks run for potential jobs.

In this case, it’ll only go on your medical record which isn’t included in a background check and employers won’t have access to it. Medical records are deemed confidential by law and can only be accessed by medical professionals.

Written by Shane Dayton

Shane, an MFA grad and seasoned online writer, specializes in security and privacy, using his vast state-to-state travel experiences to guide readers through the complexities of information safety in a digital world. Read more of Shane's articles.