Will a Pending Misdemeanor Show on a Background Check? (Law Explained)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | June 5, 2024

Will a pending misdemeanor show on a background check a man with his hands on his hips wonders while looking at a background check on a computer screen on the left and a judge holds out pending misdemeanor charges on the right.

Individuals who are awaiting criminal charges while trying to find a new job may be wondering, will a pending misdemeanor show on a background check?

In order to answer this question, individuals will need to have the state law explained when it comes to what charges show up on a background check for employment. Unfortunately, most states will allow for non-convictions to appear on a background check in most cases.

But, a few will not. So the fastest way to discover will a pending misdemeanor show on a background check is to do a background check on yourself right now. This free criminal background check will pinpoint any pending charges that have been filed, regardless of the level of crime.

The following guide explains what type of charges show up on a background check, based on the laws governing each state.

Will a Pending Charge Show on a Background Check?

When it comes to will a pending charge show on a background check the answer will depend on what state the individual is undergoing a background check. Although the vast majority of states will allow background check services to report any and all criminal history information, some states will not allow certain information to be reported to employers.

The only states that prohibit misdemeanor, felony, and other pending charges from appearing on a background check are:

  • California
  • Kentucky
  • New Mexico
  • New York

All other states allow pending charges to show up, but the reality depends on when the information is disseminated.

Generally, when a background check agency performs a criminal history check on an individual they will be looking through a variety of databases to obtain the most accurate and up-to-date information. This usually includes law enforcement databases and court databases at a bare minimum. Between these two databases alone the background check agency will normally be able to find information on any and all arrests, charges, and convictions for the individual.

However, many people argue that it is unfair to be denied employment due to pending charges or charges that did not result in a conviction because they were dropped or the individual was acquitted. This sentiment has led several states to adopt laws that prohibit criminal history information that is considered irrelevant to be reported to employers conducting pre-employment background checks. Although only a few states have adopted these laws, they generally cover charges that were dropped as well as pending charges from being reported.

Pending Misdemeanor Charges and Getting a Job: Will a Pending Misdemeanor Show on a Background Check?

For individuals who live in states that do allow for pending charges to be reported to employers conducting pre-employment background checks and wonder will a pending misdemeanor show on a background check, not all hope is lost.

As with most pre-employment background checks, the company is simply trying to determine if any applicants pose a significant liability threat to the company. In most cases, even if the record may show that the individual is a potential liability, the interview and other related factors still play a major role. This is why many companies are willing to hire individuals with criminal convictions, if the individual seemingly wants to better themselves and if they believe the individual’s criminal past is unlikely to be an issue.

The same policy will usually be applied to individuals with pending charges. Being upfront and honest about the nature of the changes is usually the best policy. In general, most employers will be more interested in conviction information, as opposed to charges.

Do Pending Court Cases Show Up on a Background Check?

People are often shocked by what appears on their records, which leads them to wonder whether pending court cases are included in background screenings. Pending court cases will appear on most background checks.

Since there is a court case pending that means that charges have officially been filed through the courts. The majority of criminal history checks are performed by checking court databases so this information will easily be uncovered during most background checks.

How Long Does It Take for a Pending Charge To Show Up on a Background Check?

With most background checks performed electronically, individuals should assume that any pending charge information will be available immediately. In many cases, it will be the arrest that precedes a charge that will appear on a background check as charges are usually filed after an arrest is made.

What States Prohibit Pending Charges on a Background Check?

Each state has slightly different background check laws that seem to be changing more and more frequently as more states enact legislation to help individuals with criminal records find employment.

California, Kentucky, New York, and New Mexico are the only states that currently ban the practice of reporting non-conviction information on a background check. However, there are plenty of other state laws that ban other specific kinds of records from being reported on a background check.

For example, Arkansas only allows the reporting of pending felony charges,1 whereas pending misdemeanor charges cannot be reported.

How To Get a Job With Pending Charges

Getting a job with pending charges should be only slightly more difficult than obtaining a job with no criminal record whatsoever. The best thing to do if you have pending charges or a criminal record of any kind is to be prepared to answer questions about your criminal record. By having a response prepared ahead of time that demonstrates remorse and that the record will not impact job performance, individuals can greatly increase their chances of their criminal record being overlooked.

Will a Misdemeanor Show Up on a Background Check? (Will a Pending Misdemeanor Show on a Background Check?)

Some individuals wonder will a pending misdemeanor show on a background check. You may have heard that misdemeanors don’t show up on background checks at all.

Although there are a few exceptions, in general, misdemeanor charges and convictions will appear on almost all background checks.

Companies that perform background checks rely on the public court and law enforcement databases for their information. This means that any public court document that bears the individual’s name will be found. This includes all criminal charges and convictions, regardless of whether or not they are felonies or misdemeanors.

One of the few official documents that will not appear on a background check is traffic infractions. Speeding tickets, parking tickets and other motor vehicle-related citations will not appear on criminal background checks as this information is held by the DMV, rather than the courts. However if a driving infraction was a misdemeanor or higher offense, then this information will be present in a background check.

Can I Pass a Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

It is possible to pass a background check with a misdemeanor. Most companies that have strict policies against hiring individuals with criminal records will usually only disqualify individuals with felony convictions and certain misdemeanor convictions.

Basically, the less serious the crime the more likely it is to be overlooked. However, it’s important to keep in mind that employers are generally free to make their own hiring practices when it comes to criminal records. Although most employers will be willing to overlook certain criminal records, for many employers a criminal record of any kind will be considered an automatic disqualification.

The best thing to do is prepare a response for when the hiring manager inevitably inquires into the nature of the misdemeanors. If the response is able to demonstrate that the individual wants to move forward from past criminal activity and that it will not impact their work, many employers will be willing to overlook it.

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

Some individuals ask “Will a pending misdemeanor show on a background check?” may think they can simply wait it out until their record clears automatically. However, the idea of misdemeanors disappearing off a criminal record after a certain amount of time is largely a myth.

Currently, the only federal background check laws that all states must follow are dictated by the FCRA,2 which does not have a limit on how far back a background check can go. This means that in most states an individual’s entire criminal record will be available forever.

There are some notable exceptions to this, particularly in 7-year states. These are states that prohibit criminal history information from being reported if the information is older than 7 -10 years old. In this case, the records will be sealed from public view and thus background check agencies will not be able to report this information to employers.

How Do I Know If I Have a Misdemeanor on My Record?

People are interested in what details one might find when checking their records. One of the questions that they often ask is how to determine if there is a misdemeanor on their record.

The most reliable way to find out if you have a misdemeanor on your record is to perform a background check on yourself. There are a few different ways to do this, most easily individuals can use the search bar at the top of this page to perform a free public records search which will return any criminal history information that is available.

Screenshot of E-verify website page for self-check with yellow arrows pointing to how myE-verify works for employment verification.

Doing an E-Verify self-check allows U.S. residents to confirm citizenship status and obtain identity verification employment forms.

Individuals also have several official options available for the most thorough check possible, however, most of these checks will require a fee. The two most reliable official options are to obtain a background check through the state police or through the FBI.3 Private background check agencies can also be a good option in many cases, especially those that offer a free trial.

Do Misdemeanors Go Away When You Turn 18?

Another common misconception about criminal records is that crimes committed while the individual was a minor will disappear when they turn 18. Although this is somewhat true, it’s slightly more complicated than the records simply going away.

In most states, individuals can easily have juvenile records sealed when they turn 18. However, this does not happen automatically and in most states, the individuals will need to petition to have the record sealed. Luckily most states make the process of sealing records for minors far easier than the process of sealing adult criminal records.

How To Get Charges Dropped Before Court Date

Being charged is one of the most difficult circumstances somebody can go through. Determining how to get cases withdrawn prior to the court appointment is important.

In most cases, when facing criminal charges of any kind the best case scenario for the accused is if the charges are simply dropped before any criminal proceedings happen. When this occurs the individual is officially innocent and the criminal proceedings will cease. Although charges can still be filed later, getting charges dropped is almost always a good thing, even if it simply buys the individual some time.

However, getting charges dropped is not always easy and will generally require the help of a lawyer. The attorney will examine the case and determine if trying to get the charges dropped is the best option. Charges can not always be dropped and will generally rely on a procedural issue that makes the arrest unlawful or rely on a lack of evidence to convince a judge to drop the charges.

Can Charges Be Dropped After Arraignment?

Charges can be dropped at any time during criminal proceedings. The arraignment in particular is a fairly common time for charges to get dropped as it is often the first time that the defense will appear in front of a judge and try and convince the judge to drop the charges based on a lack of evidence or other circumstances.

How To Find Out If There Are Pending Charges Against Me for Free

A person’s record may contain a number of charges, and defending against these allegations requires careful planning.

The most reliable way to find out if there are pending charges against you is to perform a background check on yourself. This will allow individuals to know if there are any charges filed against them in court, which they will then be able to view to determine what charges were filed.

How To Find Out If Criminal Charges Are Filed

Being involved in any criminal activity is problematic. You may want to get ready by learning methods to check if criminal charges are brought against you.

The best way to find out if criminal charges have been filed is to perform a background check on yourself. This will uncover any criminal history information including pending charges against you.

How To Look Up Charges on Someone

Curiosity about individuals can be a vital quality. Knowing how to search for cases brought against someone is important if you want to keep a connection going. Criminal charges are public information and can be found at the courthouse where they were filed.

In general, only the name of the individual that the charges were filed against will be needed as well as a small fee. Individuals can do this using an online court search system or by contacting the county court clerk directly about a records request.

Do Arrests Without Conviction Show Up on Background Check? (Will a Pending Misdemeanor Show on a Background Check)

People can be genuinely surprised by what their records reveal. Will non-convicted arrests appear on a background check report, one could ask? Arrests without a conviction will show up on background checks in most states.

Currently, there is no federal law that prohibits these kinds of records from appearing on a background check but several states have enacted laws that only allow conviction information to be reported. Keep in mind that even in states that do not allow this practice, they are only sealing these records from the public. Official agencies, such as the FBI, will still be able to view this information.

Will a Misdemeanor Affect Employment?

Getting employed can be really exciting but one might wonder if a misdemeanor might impact the chances of employment. Having a misdemeanor on your record will have some effect on your employment. How big of an effect it has will depend on the individual’s attitude when talking about the crime with their potential employer as well as the crime itself.

Individuals who show no remorse and seemingly have not made an attempt to better themselves will usually be seen as a red flag to an employer, regardless of the nature of the crime. The specific crime will also be a factor for employers mainly how the crime relates to the job duties.

For instance, individuals with theft convictions on their criminal record will likely have a difficult time obtaining a job that requires access to valuable merchandise or large amounts of cash. In addition to this, employers will usually not overlook violent crimes, sex crimes, or crimes involving children.

Can You Pass a Federal Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

Although they are notorious for being particularly strict, it is possible to pass a federal background check with a misdemeanor. Generally, it will depend on the specific crime that was committed in order to pass the check. Most federal jobs have a list of crimes that are considered automatic disqualifiers so researching the job in question is usually the best way to determine the chances of passing.

Can You Pass a Background Check With a Dismissed Misdemeanor?

Individuals should be able to pass a background check fairly easily if they have a dismissed misdemeanor on their record. Although arrests and other information will play a role in the decision, most employers are mostly interested in conviction information, so dismissed charges will often simply be ignored.

Can You Pass a TSA Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

It is possible to pass a TSA background check with certain misdemeanors on your criminal record. The TSA is one of the few agencies that publishes a complete list of disqualifying offenses.4

Can You Pass a Gun Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

Passing a gun background check with a misdemeanor will depend entirely on the type of misdemeanor. Most states prohibit individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors from purchasing a firearm. The length of the minimum sentence for the crime that was committed is another common factor in states that allow certain misdemeanor offenders to purchase firearms.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Misdemeanor Expunged?

The process to get a record expunged is often extremely tedious. Although more and more states are making it easier for individuals to get a record sealed, getting a record expunged is notoriously difficult.

When a record is sealed it is simply hidden from public view, whereas with an expungement the record is essentially destroyed. Most states will expunge very few if any records each year. This is usually reserved for extreme circumstances such as individuals being able to prove that they were convicted of a crime that they did not commit.

Having pending charges against you can be an extremely stressful time for anyone, even more so if these charges were filed whilst looking for a job. Luckily, understanding the basic criminal proceedings after charges have been filed can help prevent stress and allow individuals to make the best decision. Being able to answer questions like, will a pending misdemeanor show on a background check, can help tremendously.

Frequently Asked Questions About Will a Pending Misdemeanor Show on a Background Check

Will a Pending Case Show on a Background Check?

Pending cases will show up on most background checks. Most background check companies rely on court databases, if charges have been filed through the courts then these charges will appear on a background check.

Will I Pass a Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

When someone’s looking through your records, you might be pondering whether you can get positive feedback even with a misdemeanor. It is entirely possible to pass a background check with a misdemeanor for the odds will depend on the nature of the crime, how the crime relates to the job, and the individual’s attitude towards their criminal history.

Do Misdemeanors Go Away?

In most states, misdemeanors will not ever go away and an individual’s criminal history will be available forever. However, there are some exceptions such as individuals in 7-year-states as well as individuals who are able to get their records sealed.

Where Do I Check for How To Get Rid of Pending Criminal Charges?

The best thing to do for individuals trying to get rid of a pending charge is to consult with a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to guide individuals through the legal process and decide on the best course of action for dealing with the pending charges.

Can Charged Be Dropped After Indictment?

Yes, most of the common reasons for charges to get dropped will happen during the early stages of the proceedings. If the proceedings go on longer, it is less likely that the charges will be dropped.


1Arkansas State Government. (2010, January 28). Rules and Regulations for Conducting Criminal History Records Checks for Home Health, Hospice and Private Care Agencies in Arkansas. Arkansas. Retrieved October 04, 2022, from <https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/rules/CriminalBackgroundChecks.pdf>

2Federal Trade Commission. (2013, July 19). Fair Credit Reporting Act. FTC. Retrieved October 05, 2022, from <https://www.ftc.gov/legal-library/browse/statutes/fair-credit-reporting-act>

3Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2016, May 03). Identity History Summary Checks (Rap Sheets). FBI. Retrieved October 05, 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/need-an-fbi-service-or-more-information/identity-history-summary-checks>

4Transportation Security Administration. (2022). Disqualifying Offenses and Other Factors. TSA. Retrieved October 05, 2022, from <https://www.tsa.gov/disqualifying-offenses-factors>

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