Background Check in Florida: What You Should Know in 2021

Are you a landlord, employer, or firearms dealer operating in the state of Florida? If so, you already know how important it is to manage the risk to your business, employees, and yourself by finding out who you’re having business dealings with.

For firearm dealers and employers specifically, the law requires you to do your due diligence to make informed and responsible hiring and business decisions. That usually means conducting thorough background checks.

In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about conducting a background check in Florida, including what’s a background check, what makes Florida different, what you should keep in mind as an employer, and more.

What is a Background Check?

A background check is a service that allows the user to verify that someone is who they say they are. So, what shows up on a background check?

Background checks are most commonly used for information such as someone’s criminal record, education, employment history but may also contain arrest records, associate interviews, address information, location history, etc.

Where Is This Information Pulled From?

This information is pulled from various public records, including law enforcement databases. Depending on the check, it may be conducted with only state-wide records or using national/federal records. A Florida background check may only include public records for that state, depending on what type of check you do.

Background checks are mostly conducted by employers and landlords in order to establish whether the job applicant/tenant is high-risk or not.

For employment specifically, background checks can also reveal immediate disqualifying offenses from certain job positions. Especially when applying for a job with a public company that works in sensitive areas, such as care for the elderly and the frail, child care, or healthcare.

However, laws and regulations limit how pre-employment criminal background checks can be used in employment decisions to ensure fair employment practices.

What Makes Florida Different from the Other States?

While there are federal laws and regulations that govern the use of background checks, states may also have additional laws and regulations within their jurisdictions. Florida is one such state, and here are the most important things you need to know when conducting a background check in Florida:

“Ban the Box”

There is no state-wide “ban the box” legislation in Florida. This legislation limits whether or not employers are allowed to ask about an applicant’s criminal history. Certain counties have enacted similar laws for public employers. However, there is no “ban the box” legislation in place on the state or county level for private employers.

Similarly, employers in Florida are legally allowed to make inquiries about an applicant’s arrest record.

Sealed or Expunged Arrests

Job applicants are not required to disclose arrests or convictions that have been sealed or expunged. Even if revealed, these records should not factor into the hiring decision.

Disqualification Limitations

Florida permits employers to use background checks in order to screen employees. However, public employers may only disqualify applicants based on felonies, first-degree misdemeanors, and crimes that directly relate to the job at hand.

Private Employers

Private employers, on the other hand, may consider all criminal records in their hiring decisions. However, if these decisions aren’t made by carefully considering the candidate’s relevance to the position, the employer may still face employment discrimination action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Negligent Hiring

If an employer undertakes a Florida background check for employment prior to hiring an applicant and doesn’t discern any red flags, they will fall under a presumption of innocence in any potential negligent hiring cases. This will protect the employer legally should the employee cause harm to a customer, colleague, or commit any other work-related crime.

Firearms Dealers

As a point of contact state for the NICS, firearms dealers must also initiate background checks via the FDLE when selling to someone that is not a licensed dealer, importer, or manufacturer. There seems to be some correlation between performing background checks and the prevention of gun violence, so this rule seems like a good choice.

Main Types of Background Checks in Florida

When conducting Florida background checks, there are two main types to be aware of:

Level 1 Check

This is a state-only name-based check. These checks include employment history, criminal records, and the sex offender registry. It may also include a credit check. To be the subject of a level 1 check, an individual should neither be awaiting arrest nor holding any record of felony or delinquency as prohibited by the Florida Statutes.

Level 2 Check

This is a more comprehensive type of criminal history check in Florida that covers national records as well. It’s a state and national fingerprint-based check that involves comprehensive background checks by both the FBI and FDLE. This type of check is mandatory for positions that demand a certain level of trust or responsibility. Disqualifying offenses include murder, manslaughter, assault, kidnapping, sexual offenses, etc. as well as crimes against minors, elderly, or disabled individuals in particular. You can find a complete list below.

What Will an FDLE Background Check Show?

As a law enforcement department, background checks via the FDLE are solely criminal background checks. In short, this means that the check will determine whether a person has been arrested and/or convicted of a crime. (For more information about criminal background checks, go here.) FDLE criminal background checks are conducted on a state and national level. Here is the information collected and contained in a level 2 background check in Florida:

  1. The Florida Computerized Criminal History Central Repository for Florida arrests (state check).
  2. The Florida Computerized Criminal History Central Repository and National Criminal History Database at the FBI for federal arrests and arrests from other states (national check).
  3. The Florida Crime Information Center for warrants and domestic violence injunctions.

Between these 3 checks, every possible arrest record in Florida or the rest of the country as well as other convictions or warrants issued against someone on a state or national basis should surface, regardless of severity. Here are the specific offenses that will be shown according to the FDLE (taken from the Florida Statutes):

(a) Section 393.135

relating to sexual misconduct with certain developmentally disabled clients and reporting of such sexual misconduct.

(b) Section 394.4593

relating to sexual misconduct with certain mental health patients and reporting of such sexual misconduct.

(c) Section 415.111

relating to adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation of aged persons or disabled adults.

(d) Section 777.04

relating to attempts, solicitation, and conspiracy to commit an offense listed in this subsection.

(e) Section 782.04

relating to murder.

(f) Section 782.07

relating to manslaughter, aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated manslaughter of a child.

(g) Section 782.071

relating to vehicular homicide.

(h) Section 782.09

relating to the killing of an unborn child by injury to the mother.

(i) Chapter 784

relating to assault, battery, and culpable negligence if the offense was a felony.

(j) Section 784.011

relating to assault if the victim of the offense was a minor.

(k) Section 784.03

relating to the battery if the victim of the offense was a minor.

What Should Employers Keep an Eye Out For

The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act), limits employers in how they can apply pre-employment criminal background checks. These limitations are implemented at the federal level, which means employers in Florida are equally beholden to them as well as any state-specific laws.

One such example that doesn’t directly impact the background check process for employers is the 7-year rule which states that criminal records must be cleared after this period has passed. These include civil lawsuits, arrest records, and other judgments against the applicant.

First of all, employers should ensure that the Florida criminal public records check service they use is FCRA compliant. Any other industry certifications or accreditations are also welcome. Certain procedures or limitations that must always be followed by employers are:

Time of Conducting a Background Check

Public employers may only conduct a background check during the application process after conducting an initial interview with the candidate.

Disclosure Form

You must provide an applicant with a disclosure form that communicates that you will obtain a consumer report for employment purposes. This disclosure must be a completely separate document, especially from an employment application or release of liability.

Written Authorization

The applicant must provide written authorization for you to conduct the background check for employment. Only these two forms may be combined together. They provide permission for background check services, former employers, etc. to provide the information.

Interviews Must Be Disclosed

If you also want to conduct interviews as part of the background check, you must disclose to the applicant that you intend to conduct an “investigative” check. If an applicant requests a description of the background check, you must provide it.

Pre-Adverse Action Notice

Upon completing the Florida background check for employment, you must provide the applicant with a “pre-adverse-action notice” that includes a copy of the report and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s summary of rights. You must then give the applicant 5 days to dispute or object to the contents of the report before you can make a decision.

Allow Disputing

If you decide to not hire the applicant or offer them a lower position, you must also notify them of the decision and provide them with the means to dispute the background check findings with the conducting company.

If you don’t follow these procedures as an employer, you open yourself up to the possibility of having a claim filed against you with the FCRA. Before disqualifying an applicant based on an offense, employers should always consider:

  • The severity of the offense
  • The time that has passed since it was committed
  • If and how it relates to the job position

Best Background Check Service Providers to Use in Florida

While background check sites such as Truthfinder, Intelius, or Chekr are also common choices for many when it comes to the state of Florida background check, here are some of the top services to check out:

IntelliCorp

Founded in 1996, IntelliCorp is a popular and affordable background screening service for individuals, employers, and landlords alike. They also offer specialized background screening for employers in the healthcare sector where there are stricter regulatory requirements. All their packages are divided into three tiers that vary from basic state-only reports to federal reports to reports that verify the educational background and professional references. They can also complete other types of checks, such as drug use.

Pros
  • Volume discounts are available for bulk requests
  • A variety of packages at different prices
  • Relatively low turnaround times
Cons
  • No enterprise-scale background check plans
  • Has violated FCRA regulations previously
Who is it best for?

Landlords who want a background check in Florida for renters and small businesses.

First Advantage

First Advantage is one of the leading companies in the US and around the world to help businesses manage contingent worker risk. They can conduct all types of background checks, such as a specific Florida background check that requires fingerprints and requesting data from FBI sources. They have worked with over 35,000 organizations in over 14 countries and have multiple offices throughout the US.

Pros
  • Highly reputable business background check service
  • A huge variety of background check services, including drug tests
  • Highly detailed and accurate reports that pick up even the smallest discrepancies
Cons
  • Not suitable/affordable for individual background checks
  • Background checks are not instant and may take months to complete
Who is it best for?

Large organizations or multinationals with enterprise-scale employee screening needs.

ESR

ESR claims to be in the top 1% of screening services regarding their level of certification and has been recognized on multiple occasions by HR industry bodies. Compliance with industry standards and regulations is one of their main goals and you can find all of their certifications on the website. This makes them one of the most trusted sources for a Florida public records check. They are also active both in the US and abroad and offer drug, occupational health, and other checks alongside typical background checks.

Pros
  • One of the top background services in terms of compliance
  • Comprehensive and in-depth employee background checks
  • High standards in terms of information security and privacy
  • Checks are completed within 24 to 72 hours
Cons
  • Not suitable for individual use
  • Relatively expensive

Who is it best for?

Businesses with in-depth employee screening requirements where data security is a top priority.

Applicant Insight

Applicant Insight is another highly recognized and reputable service for a public records check in Florida, and beyond. This service has been in the business since 1990. They are accredited by the BSCC and have HR Open Standards and C-TPA certifications. Applicant Insight works across a number of industries and provides specialized screening services for, amongst others, occupational health, drivers, etc. While their user interface is slightly outdated, the behind-the-scenes technology is impressive with proprietary HR solutions that can integrate with HRIS and ATS systems.

Pros
  • One of the top background services in terms of compliance
  • Comprehensive and in-depth employee background checks
  • Highly trusted with a number of high-level certifications and accreditations
Cons
  • Slightly outdated website and platform
  • A confusing and variable fee schedule
Who is it best for?

Mostly for companies of all sizes.

Edge

Edge Employment Screening is another state of Florida records search service recognized for excellence by HRO. Active since 1991, they provide their services to companies of all sizes and even operate internationally. In addition to typical background screening services (with on-site fingerprinting), they also offer drug tests as well as I-9 E-Verification services to ensure businesses are hiring legally. Edge’s software can integrate with a number of high-profile applicant tracking systems, such as iCIMS and HRNX.

Pros
  • Specializes in I-9 E-Verification
  • Able to accommodate businesses of all sizes
  • Impressive technology integrations with existing HR solutions
Cons
  • Lack of upfront information regarding pricing
  • No guarantees on turnover time
Who is it best for?

Best for small to large enterprises.

Atlantic Screening Services

Atlantic Screening Services is a modern and innovative background check service provider. They provide a range of employee screening services for health care providers, fleet managers, or D.O.T.s, and more that includes a criminal record check in Florida. Their checks start at $17.5 per check for multi-state and nationwide FBI searches. These can go up all the way to executive checks that include education and employment verification. However, checks are priced according to packages, starting with at least 10 checks. The larger the package, the cheaper the price per report is. Atlantic’s platform can integrate with a huge number of HIRT and ATS systems.

Pros
  • The transparent and straightforward pricing model
  • Wide range of specific job position employee screening services
  • Pick and choose additional services for optional checks
Cons
  • No option to purchase a single report
  • No guarantees on turnover time
Who is it best for?

Best for small to large businesses.

GoodHire Background Checks

GoodHire is one of the most popular and well-known background check agencies around today for a background check in Florida, or across the US. They claim that they’ve worked with over 80,000 companies and, according to a survey, most customers find it easier, cheaper, and quicker to run checks using GoodHire. GoodHire conducts identity, criminal record, and civil record checks as well as a variety of other screening services. While identity checks are instant, criminal record checks may take up to 3 days, and civil record checks up to 7 days. Pricing starts at $29.99 per check if you do less than 25 yearly, with custom plans for higher-volume clients. They also offer additional services, such as ongoing monitoring for a change of status.

Pros
  • Can order individual reports
  • Transparent and affordable pricing
  • You can pick and choose additional services for optional checks
Cons
  • No instant background checks
Who is it best for?

Best for small to large businesses.

FAQ

What shows up on a background check in Florida?

You’ll mostly find the same information in a Florida background check as any other background check, such as criminal history information, contact information, employment history, educational background, etc. However, Florida’s level 2 FDLE reports may feature different content than those of law enforcement departments in other states.

How do I obtain a background check in Florida?

Most people either get a background check through a background check service or through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Background check services range from general-purpose background checks to those specifically for employers.

What is a Level 2 background check in Florida?

A level 2 background check may also be referred to as an FDLE background check. It’s carried out by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and comprises criminal records from the state of Florida as well as national databases, such as that of the FBI.

What does Level 1 mean on a background check?

This is a state-only, name-based check which means you don’t need the search subject’s fingerprints. However, this type of background check in Florida will only show information from the state’s public records. It includes employment history, criminal records, sex offender registry records, and credit checks, on occasion.

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