Do Pending Charges Show Up on a Background Check in 2023?

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | May 13, 2024

Man on the left wondering do pending charges show up on a background check, with 2021 calendar near by, court house in the middle, and background check results page on the right.

Background checks can be performed for a variety of reasons, but many people wonder ‘do pending charges show up on a background check in 2023?’ 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.

Search Background Check for Pending Charges
Background check to look for pending charges, pending court cases, pending convictions, dismissed charges, and criminal records.

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.

Graphic illustration on what information about pending charges will show in background checks

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type of criminal background search being conducted, the charges (even pending ones) that show up could be correct or out of date.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 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 evaluation (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.

Screenshot of the National Driver Register page and a yellow arrow pointing to the data menu setting.

(Image: United States Department of Transportation4)

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 background investigation results. That said, Florida criminal information is public, and anyone can access it.

Graphic illustration of various types of criminal background checks

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 2023,” 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.


1Wikipedia. Criminal Record. 2021 16 October 2021. Web. <>

2Kohn & Yager Attorneys at Law. 2021. Jobs with a DUI Conviction. 16 October 2021. Web. <>

3California Department of Social Services. Background Check Process. 2021. 16 October 2021. Web. <>

4National Driver Register (NDR). 2021. National Driver Register. 16 October 2021. Web <>

5Nathan, Geoffrey. Pending Federal Criminal Charges Now What? 2016. 18 October 2021. Web. <>

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