What Does a BCI Background Check Show?

Woman doing BCI on potential Nannie
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From employee screening to investigating potential romantic partners, background checks occur every day. Background checks at the state level, called BCIs, are conducted through each state's Bureau of Criminal Investigations.


Man reading BCI results

BCI background checks are conducted by the involved state's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). The BCI is in charge of compiling criminal records, which are routinely accessed for background checks.

State Variance

Police criminal files

The BCI, as a state government law enforcement agency, follows the specific state laws outlining its role and procedures for maintaining criminal records. The specific records included in the criminal record repositories vary by state.


Jail cell

Some states, such as North Dakota, differentiate between law enforcement background check requests and public information background checks. Public record requests include the individual's convictions, regardless of how old; jail or prison records less than three years old; and all charges, dismissed or without a final disposition, of less than three years old, according to the North Dakota Attorney General's office.

BCI in General

Police finger print investigation

A BCI background check will also include fingerprints and summaries of filed police reports. Court records at the local, county and state level will also be included--this can extend to many misdemeanors, violations of city ordinances and bad check charges. Other records such as restraining orders, mental records or orders of protection may be revealed.


Gavel in court room

Overloaded BCI agencies may be behind in records, or records can get confused when individuals have the same name. BCI may even receive criminal records without fingerprints, such as when an individual is summoned to court rather than arrested. Such errors can result in "passing" a background check falsely.


FBI building, Washington D.C

Due to the possibility of error and the limited state-wide scope of the BCI, it is essential to perform a Federal Bureau on Investigation (FBI) check to reveal all criminal records in all states. Also, BCI may not show past convictions that have been sealed or expunged, but the FBI report will "unseal" these records in cases where it is required, such as for some professions.

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