Difference between FBI Criminal Background Check and State-Level Background Check

An FBI criminal background check and a state-level background check in the United States differ in several ways, including their scope, authority, and purpose. Here are the main differences:

Scope of Check:

  • FBI Criminal Background Check: The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) conducts a national background check and has access to federal criminal databases and data from law enforcement agencies across the country. This check is primarily relevant for federal employers, government positions, and positions of trust.
  • State-Level Background Check: A state-level background check is conducted by law enforcement agencies in a specific state and pertains to an individual's criminal history within that state. This type of check is typically carried out for employers, government positions, and other situations within the state. It does not provide information about any criminal history outside of that state.

Authority and Data Access:

  • FBI: The FBI has access to national and federal criminal databases, such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Interstate Identification Index (III). This allows the FBI to provide information about federal crimes and serious offenses at the national level.
  • State-Level: State authorities typically have access to the criminal history within their own state, including data on crimes committed at the state level. However, they cannot provide information about crimes committed outside of the state.

Purpose of the Check:

  • FBI: FBI background checks are usually conducted for positions of national significance, such as government roles, positions in the aviation industry, defense, and certain licenses and security clearances. If you have an employee who will be working for you but is located outside the relevant state or perhaps in another country, it is advisable to request an FBI Criminal Background Check and possibly the background check of the state where the person has resided.
  • State-Level: State background checks are primarily intended to assess an individual's suitability for positions and services within the state, such as jobs in state and local governments, education, healthcare, law enforcement, and various licenses.

It is important to note that both types of background checks can vary in depth and scope, depending on the specific laws and regulations of the state or the federal level. Generally, FBI background checks are more comprehensive due to their access to national data sources, while state-level background checks are more limited to data within the state.

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