Florida state law does not limit how far back a background check can go in the state. Instead, most types of screenings, including criminal record checks, go back indefinitely.

However, when carrying out criminal background checks in Florida, employers are expected to be conversant with local ban-the-box laws that may limit how and when criminal record information can be considered in the hiring process.

Background checks in Florida are expected to comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Note that the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibits consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) from reporting things like Title 11 bankruptcies older than 10 years from the date of the report; civil suits, civil judgments, and arrest records that are older than seven years from the date of the report.

It also prohibits reporting agencies from reporting paid tax liens that are older than seven years from the date of the report, any collections older than seven years from the date of the report, and any adverse information (other than criminal convictions) older than seven years from the date of the report.

Unlike some states, Florida does not limit employers’ ability to carry out criminal background checks in Florida. There are no statewide ban-the-box or fair hiring laws in Florida, although some counties and cities have instituted their own ban-the-box and fair hiring laws.

Florida encourages employers to carry out background checks by offering them protection against claims of negligent hiring for doing so. If an employer carries out a background check in Florida that includes a criminal records check and finds no information disqualifying the candidate, and hires or promotes the person, state law assumes that the company was not negligent in hiring.

How are Background Checks Conducted in Florida?

There are several ways that companies use to get information about different applicants. Sometimes a company may decide to contact your previous employer and other referees to get a rough idea about you. This includes the people you have listed in your Curriculum Vitae as references.

In most cases, employers in Florida will hire a third-party company to carry out background checks on you. This approach is more effective to the employer because it offers comprehensive and detailed information about an applicant’s criminal record.

However, there are certain limits that stipulate how employers can acquire and utilize information from different applicants. There are basically two types of background checks in Florida.

Types of Background Checks in Florida

Level 1 checks

Level one checks are conducted within a state are name-based checks. They involve a search in the history of an applicant as well as any local or at state criminal history. Have it in mind that these checks tend to include employment history, criminal records, and the sex offender registry.

It may also include a credit check. In the State of Florida, 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 checks

Level 2 checks need fingerprints to be taken as well as a comprehensive background check from the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). If the company finds that an applicant has committed prohibited offenses, his or her application will be rejected.

Below is a list of prohibited offenses for level one and level two checks:

  1. Offenses related to sexual misconduct with a disabled client
  2. Offenses relating to sexual misconduct with a mentally ill patient
  3. Offenses related to adult abuse, exploitation, or neglect of disabled or aged persons
  4. Offenses relating to murder
  5. Relating to solicitation and conspiracy to commit a crime

Have in mind that this type of check is necessary for positions that require a certain level of trust or responsibility. Disqualifying offenses may include murder, manslaughter, assault, kidnapping, sexual offenses, etc. coupled with crimes against minors, elderly, or disabled individuals in particular.

These are just but a few of the prohibited offenses under level one and level two background checks. There are several other offenses that can make cause employers reject your application.

Important Things to Know When Conducting a Background Check in Florida

Although some federal laws and regulations determine the use of background checks, states tend to have additional laws and regulations within their jurisdictions. Florida is one such state, and below are the most vital things you have to know when carrying out a background check in Florida:

  1. Ban the Box

Just as was noted above, there is no state-wide “ban the box” legislation in Florida. This legislation tends to limit whether or not employers are permitted to ask about an applicant’s criminal history. Note that some counties in the state have put in place similar laws for public employers.

However, there is no “ban the box” legislation in place at the state or county level for private employers. In the same way, employers in Florida are legally permitted to make inquiries about an applicant’s arrest record.

  1. Disqualification Limitations

The State of Florida permits employers to leverage background checks when screening employees. However, public employers are only allowed to disqualify applicants based on felonies, first-degree misdemeanors, and crimes that directly relate to the job at hand.

  1. Sealed or Expunged Arrests

In the State of Florida, job applicants are not mandated to disclose arrests or convictions that have been sealed or expunged. Even if made available, these records are not expected to factor into the hiring decision.

  1. Private Employers

Have it in mind that private employers in the State of Florida are permitted to consider all criminal records in their hiring decisions. Howbeit, if these decisions aren’t reached by extensively 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.

  1. Negligent Hiring

If an employer carries out a Florida background check for employment before hiring an applicant and doesn’t find any red flags that expressly disqualify the employee, note that they will fall under a presumption of innocence in any potential negligent hiring cases. This will safeguard the employer legally in any case that the employee causes harm to a customer, or colleague, or commit any other work-related crime.

  1. Firearms Dealers

Well noted as a point of contact state for the NICS, firearms dealers in the state of Florida are expected to initiate background checks via the FDLE when selling to someone that is not a licensed dealer, importer, or manufacturer. Have in mind there seem to be some connections between performing background checks and the prevention of gun violence, therefore this rule is a good choice.

What Type of Information Does an FDLE Background Check Entail?

The term “background check” is commonly used by employers to refer to “criminal background checks” – something that sometimes brings confusion for recruiting companies. The FDLE only uses information that’s accepted by the law to carry out background checks on applicants.

This normally includes personal information as well as any criminal information about the applicant both on a state and federal level. Despite the fact that some companies rely on information from FB to conduct background checks, FDLE still remains an important source for most employers in Florida.

What are the Limitations or How Far Can Background Checks Go in Florida?

It is true that some background checks in Florida are subjected to certain limits within the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). For example, the FCRA’s 7-year rule demands that certain criminal record information must be removed from an applicant’s history after the lapse of seven years.

These records include judgments against an applicant, civil lawsuits, paid tax liens and arrest records. The act also has more restrictions on Florida employers. The FCRA mandates all companies to:

  • To get permission from a client before carrying out a background check
  • Let the applicant know that the information from a background check can cause him or her to be disqualified from the job
  • Give applicants a copy of the reports found on the background check

Besides, FCRA mandates employers to conducts background checks to make sure that all information in the background check is accurate and updated. Otherwise, you have a right to dispute the contents of the background check. Such action is likely to prompt the agency to start an investigation.

Is a Conviction a Disqualifying Factor When It Comes to Background Checks in Florida?

This is not always the case. According to the regulations set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can only disqualify you if the information from your background check poses a risk to the company. EEOC however mandates employers to consider the following before taking any action:

  • The seriousness of the offense in question
  • The extent to which the offense relates to the job
  • The period that has elapsed since the conviction took place

Employers are also encouraged to offer applicants an opportunity to give their side of the story about the conviction. As an applicant, it is always important to ensure that you understand your rights as far as background checks are concerned.


Irrespective of whether you are an employer, a landlord, or a firearm dealer in Florida, understanding when and how to carry out a background check is very vital not only for your business but to ensure you avoid committing certain criminal offenses. Florida imposes fewer regulations on employer background screenings when compared to many other states.

However, since carrying out a background check in Florida may help protect an employer from charges of negligent hiring, it is a critical step in the hiring process. Florida employers are always expected to comply with the FCRA and ban-the-box laws in some Florida cities and counties.