Do Arrests Show Up on a Background Check?

Many people are not sure if arrests appear on a background check.

It’s an understandable question, especially given how common it is for employers to run these checks on potential employees. However, the answer can sometimes be complicated. 

That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to answer all your questions about arrest records and background checks.

We want to help you understand everything there is to know about arrest records and how they can impact your life.

With this information, you can make informed decisions about your future and what steps you need to take to protect yourself.

Does an Arrest Show up on a Background Check?

Being arrested does not mean you are a criminal; it simply means you have been accused of a crime.

However, an arrest can still appear on a background check, which can negatively impact your ability to find a job, housing, or even a credit application. 

A lot of individuals are curious about how arrest records appear on a background check. While it depends on the case’s specifics, in general, arrests do show up on background checks.

The type of background check also affects the answer. Some employers use a basic criminal background check, which will only show arrests that resulted in convictions.

Others may use more comprehensive inspections, including arrests and charges that did not have a conviction and dismissed cases and other information about your criminal history. 

It’s essential to understand what kind of background check an employer is running, so you know how much information they can see.

What Arrest Information is Contained in a Background Check?

When an employer runs a background check, they will generally have access to the following information:

Charges filed

It refers to the specific charges brought against the individual in question.

Depending on the jurisdiction, some of these charges may be felonies, while others could be misdemeanors.

Date of the offense

It refers to the date when the alleged offense occurred.

Date the court that decided the case

This is the date when the court made its decision about the case.

Disposition of the case

The Disposition of the case usually refers to the status of the case’s verdict. It could be: Dismissed, Guilty, Not Guilty, or Pending.

Sentence given

This is the sentence the court handed down regarding the crime. It can include fines, probation, or jail time, depending on the severity of the crime and jurisdiction.

Name of the judge presiding over the case

This is a record of who was in charge of making decisions regarding this particular case.

Name of the Defense Attorney

In cases where an individual has hired a defense attorney, their name will be included in this report. It can help employers determine if they hired someone with prior legal experience.

Bond Amount, All Related Court Dates, and Detailed Docket Information

Background checks will include information about the bail amount if any was issued, as well as all related court dates and detailed docket information.

Employers need to know as it provides an overview of how the case progressed through the legal system.

Does an Arrest Affect Your Chances of Getting a Job?

While every case is different, an arrest can damage your chances of getting a job. 

According to a study by The Sentencing Project, people with criminal records are 50% less likely to receive callbacks or job offers after applying.

The study also found that people with criminal records are seven times less likely to be called back for an interview than those without records.

How to Handle Arrests on Your Record?

It’s important to remember that employers cannot ask about arrests that didn’t result in convictions, so if you have been arrested but never convicted, it should not affect your chances of obtaining a job. 

However, if an employer discovers this information through a background check, they may still consider it when evaluating their candidacy for the position.

Though there are a couple of things you can do to handle these records:

Be honest and constructive

If you have an arrest record, it is essential to be honest and constructive when explaining the situation to anyone interviewing or considering you for anything. 

You can talk about what you have learned from the experience and how you have changed.  

Being open and honest shows that you are taking responsibility for your past and that your mistakes do not define you.

Many employers are willing to give people second chances, but they need to know that you’re eager to take responsibility for your actions. 

If you try to hide your arrest record and the employer finds out later, it will damage your credibility and make it much harder to get hired.

Try getting the record expunged

In some states, laws allow for the expungement or sealing of certain types of records after some time has passed, but this process isn’t always easy or guaranteed. So it’s crucial to be aware of your rights and do research. 

If you were arrested but not convicted, you might be able to have your record expunged. It means that the arrest will not show up on a background check. To erase your record, you must file a petition with the court. 

The process can be complicated so it’s best to consult with an attorney. The court will order the arrest record to be sealed or destroyed if your petition is granted. It will give you a clean slate and allow you to move on with your life.


To sum it up, having an arrest record can make it challenging to find a job, get a loan or apply for travel documents, with the arrest being most likely to appear in any background check done for any individual.

Nevertheless, improving your chances through a few tried and tested methods is highly possible.

Your best effort is to try and have the record expunged from the public record, a doable process that may require effort, time, and money. But still with a 50-50 chance of being approved as it will go through due process.

The other best way is to come clean and paint a picture of what happened and how your arrest may not really define who you are and what you are capable of.

Just remember, at the end of every interview or background check is a human being that can ultimately see your honesty and humanity.

bryan rucker
Written by Brian Williams

Brian is an expert in security, privacy, and information. He has studied background checks, criminal, people search, and such topics over the last 5 years. He is also an avid writer and enjoys sharing his knowledge through this blog. Read more of Brian's articles.