What You Should Know About Sex Offender Background Checks 18 Jan 2019


Hiring a new employee can be a nerve-wracking process even for experienced business owners. Often, just one bad apple can spoil workplace morale and prompt good employees to look elsewhere.

Along with no-brainer pre-employment screenings like criminal background checks and identity verification, certain public records searches are invaluable when making sure the person you hire is the best fit for your team. By ordering a sex offender registry report on a prospective employee, you can quickly know whether they’ve ever been convicted of a sex-related crime—and in today’s “Me Too” era, this information is more important than ever.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of a sex offender background check and what you can expect when you purchase a sex offender registry report.

Who is Listed on a Sex Offender Registry?

Since 1996, “Megan’s Law” has required all 50 U.S. states to create databases that help notify the public about high-risk sex offenders. Each state handles its sex offender registry differently, but most states will require sex offender registration as a condition of release for anyone who has been convicted of a sexual felony against an adult (like rape or aggravated sexual battery) or a sexually-related crime against a child. Others have more stringent requirements and may place individuals on the sex offender registry for offenses like statutory rape or public indecency.

The most serious sex offenders will usually be required to register for life, while others may only be required to register for a few years after they’ve completed any jail or prison sentence. As of 2012, there were nearly three-quarters of a million Americans listed on one or more states’ sex offender registries.

What Companies Benefit Most From a Sex Offender Background Check?

Employees and patients in a hallway of a healthcare clinic

Although a sex offender background check isn’t necessary for every industry, many employers can’t afford to skip this step. If your business caters to children—like a daycare facility, a retail store that carries children’s products, or a family-themed restaurant—it’s crucial to ensure that every member of your staff has a clean record.

Other industries and positions that may necessitate a sex offender background check include:

  • Positions that require close work with others or that lack direct supervision;
  • Healthcare services that require direct patient or family contact;
  • Employees of a company’s financial, communications, human resources, or legal departments; and
  • Managers.

You may also want to consider screening anyone who regularly volunteers at your business. Often, volunteers aren’t subject to the same stringent pre-screening standards as regular employees or contractors, so taking this extra step can provide some much-needed protection.

Because sex offenders are often required to provide registry officials with both their home and work addresses, failing to adequately screen new hires could mean that your business indirectly winds up on the registry. Most states’ sex offender registry websites allow users to search for sex offenders who live or work within a certain number of miles from a specific address, so plugging in an address near yours could mean that your business shows up as a “hit.”

What’s Included in the Sex Offender Registry Report?

Because the information contained in sex offender registries is open to the public, you may wonder why you can’t just hop on your state’s website to search for a prospective employee on your own. But a comprehensive sex offender registry search will obtain information from all 50 states, something that’s incredibly time-consuming for one individual to do. And by searching only in your current state, you may miss out on a crucial piece of information that could be the deciding factor in hiring or firing an employee.

The sex offender registry report may simply let you know that your employee is not listed on any state’s registry. This should be enough to give you the “all clear” to hire, assuming the employee’s other background and identification checks are in order.

If your prospective employee does appear on a sex offender registry for one or more states, your report will provide you with information like:

  • Their name and any aliases
  • Physical characteristics, including scars, tattoos, and other distinguishing features (which can help you rule out any mistaken-identity claims)
  • Their home address
  • The date and state in which they were convicted
  • The nature of the offense

This detailed information can give you all you need to decide whether to move forward on a particular hire.

While you may assume that anyone who is on the sex offender registry is a flat “no” for hire, there are some situations that might call for a bit of leniency. For example, if you’re hiring for a highly specialized position and your top candidate is on the registry for a statutory rape conviction at age 18, your decision making process may be much different than if you’re hiring for an entry-level position and receive an application from someone who was convicted of Class A felony rape.

How Can Companies Protect Themselves?

Taking the time to seek out a sex offender registry report can help you protect your reputation, your employees, and your customers. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to safeguard the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

Ready to run effective, comprehensive background checks? Get started here.