do pending charges show up on a background check

Background checks can be performed for a variety of reasons, but many people wonder ‘do pending charges show up on a background check in 2022?’ Whether or not a pending charge shows up on a records search depends on a number of factors, but in general, the answer is yes, pending charges will show up on a background check.

But… there are many exceptions to that rule. The most accurate answer is to conduct a quick search to make sure.

History searches are most commonly performed prior to beginning a new job or signing a lease on a rental property, but they can also be used for personal reasons (like checking on people who work with your children, or others).

As an individual or professional, it’s critical to understand if pending charges will show up on a criminal background search, so that you can make informed decisions. 

What Information about Pending Charges Will a Background Check Show?

Background checks can include a wide range of records, depending on who is conducting them and why they are being performed. What shows up on a background check depends on the type of screening conducted.

What will a background check show? Info including:

  • Verification of Social Security Number (Sometimes)
  • Driving records
  • Records of incarceration
  • Arrests and convictions in the past
  • Previous work experience

Some records searches may also include relevant data about your medical, academic, and credit history, but this usually requires the applicant to express consent in writing (like in a level 2 check).

Depending on the type of criminal background search being conducted, the charges (even pending ones) that show up could be correct or out of date. Some courthouses or municipalities, for example, might not always report as frequently as others. If it’s a level 1 background check, the name search should bring to the surface personal details and even work history. But, the nature of these searches can be flawed, since they are based on name, address, and other info.

If a level 2 background check is being performed, based on fingerprints, more data and criminal records will typically show up because of the sources searched.

Moreover, the state law plays a role. For example, in California, all pending criminal offenses will show up, while in Arkansas, only felony ones will.

The best rule of thumb is to verify with your specific state to learn whether (and which kind of) charges will show up.

How Long Does It Take for Pending Charges to Show Up on a Background Check?

If there are any pending charges against someone, it is likely that they will be filed at the county level, but federal charges can also be federal. Federal charges that are pending are either those that will be filed, or those that have been filed but haven’t been prosecuted yet.5

To acquire the most recent criminal record, a professional provider can need to access them manually or through digital records at the county level, if they are available.1

Will Employment Screening Cause an Upcoming Charges to Appear on a Background Check?

Whether or not employment screenings show pending charges depends on the types of background checks or screening processes being performed. So, what pending charges will show up on a background check? Check out this example:

For example, someone who is seeking a position as a commercial driver might be subject to a search of driving records. If the individual has been charged with Driving under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and has a conviction, and has additional DUI or DWI charges pending, those will likely show up on a background check.2

If there is no prior conviction, the charges may not show up on an employment history search. However, as is the case with many public record laws, you should always verify the rules, regulations and statutes outlined by your specific state.

It’s important to also note that traffic tickets (as long as there have been no criminal charges) don’t show up on background checks because traffic violations (for the most part) are not considered criminal acts.3 But, when the violation includes damage to other people or property, it can be listed as a misdemeanor or felony.

If a driver does get a citation, that will go on his or her mvr report (motor vehicles record). The citation will then appear on the driver’s criminal record, but usually only after the case has been completed.

The United States Department of Transportation manages the National Driver Registry.4 This is a digital system used to catalog and track driver history and is famed for its up-to-date accuracy.

Can You Be Denied Employment for Pending Drug Possession Charges?

Convictions will follow you long after you have served your sentence, paid your fine, or finalized any other sanctions imposed by the court, but many people wonder if their chances of being hired will be impacted by a charge like drug possession.

Every state has different guidelines, but in general, whether or not possession can prevent you from employment depends on the type of employment being sought and the nature of the charge. For example, some possession charges are classed as misdemeanors, while others are felonies. Either way, both will show up on a criminal background check unless the record (for a misdemeanor) has been expunged.

Because criminal records can be inaccurate or incomplete, an employer should double-check the information. Denying employing someone with a criminal record is also considered discrimination, and bias can result in a lawsuit. So, to begin, carefully review your state’s employment laws, as they can vary greatly, and consult a labor attorney.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers should consider the following:

  • The nature of the crime
  • The amount of time that has elapsed since the crime happened
  • The scope of the employment for which the candidate is applying

But, the bottom line is that all employers have different requirements, and many jobs have various responsibilities. It’s best to be upfront with a potential employer about any negative reports that do show up in your background before a check is run. It’s also a good idea to run a background check on yourself to ensure the accuracy of the information.

Will Florida Background Checks and Searches Show a Different Record?

Florida is the only state to have codified laws concerning the scope of a background check, both level 1 and level 2. These are used across the country, but In Florida, these screenings are outlined legally. As stated, all states have various laws about what information is public and available to see on public records searches.

Since your history doesn’t change, Florida reports will only differ in what is reported by the state laws that control what shows up on a background check. That said, Florida criminal information is public, and anyone can access it.

Background checks are performed for a variety of reasons. Professional checks, like those for employment, residency, or security clearance require the individual’s consent. But, anyone can check anyone’s public record, and these checks do not require consent. For example, you might have suspicions about a certain person in your life, or you may want to do a marriage background check before tying the knot. Or, you may want to investigate your child’s coach, teacher, or youth leader.

When you do a background check, the details that show up will be related to the type of background check that is performed. Typically, name based searches include a person’s address history, prior convictions, and whether criminal charges are outstanding against that person.

Therefore, whether or not pending charges show up on a background check will largely be determined by the type of check that is conducted.

To know will pending charges show up on a background check, first, figure out where the background check data comes from and consider the various types of criminal background checks:

  • Federal Criminal Search: these federal law infringements are drawn from one or more of the nation’s 94 federal district courthouses.
  • Criminal Investigations at the State Level: each state’s felonies, misdemeanors, and traffic violations are integrated.
  • Watch List for International Regions of the world: those who have been identified as a threat to the United States will appear on this list.
  • Sex Offender and the National Criminal Database: this evidence is a cross-state, typically immediate investigation that includes court records from participating jurisdictions, department of correctional facilities court records, traffic police reports, and sex offender registers.
  • County Criminal Search: county courthouse data is generally the most up-to-date and must often be obtained manually.

Other sources are also used to compile what will show up, such as credit ratings, social media profiles, and other online information.

Background checks are highly effective ways to help keep people safe. Knowing the answer to the question, “Do pending charges show up on a background check in 2022,” can help you navigate employment and residency qualifications, but can also help you if you’re conducting a background check for personal or professional reasons.


Most of the time, we think of criminal background checks as tools to find out about a person’s criminal convictions. Because arrest records without convictions offer no proof that a person committed a crime, many states bar the use of these records in employment decisions. What happens if someone has a pending charge on his or her record? 

In most cases, a pending charge will show on criminal background checks. As with an arrest record, a pending charge is not proof that a person has been convicted of or found guilty of a crime. However, since the case is still open—and since a conviction is still possible—this information can be reported fairly on a background check. Employers are allowed to consider this information in the context of the job at hand. 

How quickly a pending charge shows up on criminal background checks will depend on the background check that the employer is using. Since most criminal charges and convictions are entered at the county courthouse level, county criminal checks will always reflect a pending charge first. Courts report into state repositories intermittently, which means that a pending charge might take weeks or months to show up on state checks.

In some cases, what is listed as a pending charge on a state check may have even been resolved by the time an employer is running criminal background checks. The same is true for multijurisdictional database background checks.

For these reasons, it is always wise to order county criminal history checks as part of employment criminal background checks. County checks that focus on the areas where a candidate has lived or worked within the past several years will often present the most in-depth and up-to-date version of that person’s criminal history.

As for whether a pending charge is grounds for disqualification from job consideration, employers need to make that decision on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, employers are legally obligated to put applications on hold if a candidate has certain pending charges. For instance, a bank cannot hire someone with a pending money laundering charge on his or her record. Instead, the bank must either hire someone else or wait for a court to clear the candidate of all charges before moving forward with hiring.

In other cases, employers may decide that a candidate’s pending charges indicate an employment risk. For example, a restaurant likely wouldn’t hire someone with a pending DUI charge as a delivery driver.

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