Employee Background Checks: Indiana Law Gives Free Pass to Criminals

employee background checksLet me start by saying that I am cool with second chances.  I need them daily just ask my spouse or kids. Been there?

Well the State of Indiana has taken it a step further.  Effective July 1, 2011 they will allow ex-convicts with “non-violent” criminal records to wipe their slate clean.

Say what!!  You got it.  House Enrolled Bill 1211 stipulates a person may petition the court to “restrict disclosure” of arrest records if:

  • Person not prosecuted and charges dismissed;
  • Acquitted of all charges;
  • Convicted of the crime and then it is vacated.
  • It is a misdemeanor or Class D felony conviction that did not involve injury to another person AND it has been 8 years since sentence was served.

Your employee background checks will be impacted by this new law.  No way around it.

Keep in mind this is not a fad in Indiana. Similar legislation has passed in other states and will in other states in the near future.

So what does “did not involve injury to another person” mean?  Good question.  It is not clear but I assume the following qualify for a clean slate:

  • Stalking (are they including psychological injury?)
  • Selling drugs
  • Theft
  • Intimidation
  • Child support delinquency
  • DUI

Ok, you get the idea.  I don’t have enough space to list all of the crimes that are eligible.

The only crime that is mentioned specifically as not being eligible is a convicted sex offender.  What about the Bible student from Hamilton County, Indiana that was convicted of having sex with a juvenile on a high school campus?  He was not required to register as a sex offender and his conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor.  Eligible?

This law, just like an expungement or sealed record, makes it tricky for an applicant answering questions on an application such as:  “have you ever been convicted of a crime.”

According to the new law, if you have successfully obtained a clean slate then you would answer no.

Common sense says, come on, we all know the answer is yes the applicant was convicted but the state wiped it clean.  But how often do we see common sense in our legislation?

The truth of the matter is a clear background screening report does not always mean a clean background.

Let me state again for the record that I am all for second chances.  We all make mistakes.

I am just not a fan of government telling us what we can and cannot see.  I still believe you make the best decisions when you have all the information in your hands.

Anyway, let me jump down from the soap box.  The law has passed, whether we like it or not.

We respect the law, even if we disagree.  But also understand that the quality of your employee background checks and the safety and security of your organization is our highest priority.

Your Turn:

Do you agree with the new law?  Do you feel like the state does not trust you to apply common sense your hiring program?  Or did the state make the right move?  Come on, weigh in and let us know what you think.