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Sexual Offender Background Check: Your Guide

Whether it’s performed as part of a pre-employment check or you’re vetting a potential dating partner, a sexual offender background check is an essential part of confirming someone’s history and behavior. While sexual offender history can often turn up on basic background checks or criminal background checks, you may sometimes have to search separately to find this critical information.

This guide will discuss sexual offender background checks and why these reports might be important. We’ll also advise you on conducting cursory sexual offender background checks and searches so that you are always informed about an individual’s important history.

What Is a Sexual Offender Background Check?

A sexual offender background check deals specifically with locating sexual offenses or convictions on a person’s record. The most common way that this is done is via a search of the National Sex Offender Public Website, a registry maintained by the United States Department of Justice. Still, there are other ways to discover sexual offenses in a person’s history. Most commonly, sexual offenses and convictions will turn up on criminal records, but you may need to search deeper in county and state records to locate the complete, exact history of a person’s offenses.

Sexual Offender Risk Levels

Sexual offenders that commit crimes and are placed on the sexual offender registry are categorized into separate risk levels. It’s important to know these risk levels so that you understand the information you find in the report.

  • Level One – offenders in this category are considered the lowest risk to the public in addition to having a low risk of re-offending
  • Level Two – offenders at level two have a moderate risk of re-offending and are a moderate risk to the public
  • Level Three – offenders in this category are considered high risk to the public and have a high risk of re-offending

You can double-check with the Department of Justice’s website for any more information on sexual offenders, risk levels, and other important knowledge.

How to Conduct a Sexual Offender Background Check

There are several ways to find important information about a sexual offender. The steps below can help you get started with sexual offender background checks.

National Registry Searches

Searching the national registry is one of the best first steps you can take when conducting a sexual offender background check. To start the search, all you have to do is enter the name of the person whose history you want to know. If you don’t have an exact first and last name, you can also search by state and address to gain information on whether or not that person is a registered sex offender.

Keep in mind that you might need to search state by state or by jurisdiction to get a complete listing of a person’s offense background.

Background Check Reports

Background check reports performed through online services, such as the one on Information.com, are an incredibly helpful tool for accessing a compiled report of a person’s background history. By searching a person’s name and location, you can get a full history report, including criminal offenses, civil records, and often, sex offender status. Plus, you won’t need to search through a national registry state by state to discover everything there is to know about someone, which saves you time in the long run.

Criminal Record Searches

Conducting criminal record searches either online or manually by searching courthouse records can be a simple way to discover convictions and sex offender status. However, if you are attempting to search manually, this can take some time because you will need to access the individual records of each state they might have committed an offense in to gain a complete picture of their criminal history.

Public criminal record searches are a reliable way to gain information; however, as long as you have the time to search through these records, this can be a good place to start your sexual offender background check.

The Importance of Sexual Offender Background Checks

Sexual offender background checks are a way to verify someone’s history and double-check whether or not a person has committed previous sexual offenses. This is important during the hiring process to ensure that an individual is qualified for the job and that they won’t be exposed to vulnerable populations, especially if they are at a high risk of re-offense. There are certain opportunities that sexual offenders do not qualify for, which is why sexual offender background checks are performed before employment offers are given.

Additionally, a sexual offender background check is a good way to vet the safety of a person you are planning on dating or ensure that an individual is safe for you and your family to spend time around, like new neighbors or parents of your kids’ friends.

Keep in mind that employers performing sexual offender background checks are required in most states to inform the individual of the background information they are looking up.

However, states have varying laws about disclosure and authorization regarding background checks, so you should research the specific laws in your state before performing a sex offender background check on a potential employee.

Understanding Sexual Offender Employment Laws

Every state is different, and, as such, there are varying laws about where sex offenders are allowed to work, what employers can do with the information they find, and how employers must inform candidates about a potential background check. If you have concerns or questions about state employment laws when it comes to sexual offenders or about proper hiring and verification practices, double-check laws and rights on your state government’s official website.


Now that you know the basics of sexual offender background checks and how they work, you might still have some lingering questions. Read on for answers.

Will Sexual Offender Records Show Up on Criminal Background Checks?

Sexual offender records typically show up on criminal background checks, though this depends on your state’s disclosure laws and the period when the offenses occurred. So if an individual has been convicted of sexual offenses or has a long history of arrests, convictions, and other criminal information related to sexual offenses, then it will most likely appear when you perform a general criminal background check.

However, you can perform a separate sex offender background check to be sure you have all the information you need about someone’s criminal history.

Are There Limitations to a Sexual Offender Background Check?

There might be limitations when searching the National Sex Offender Public Website or performing other types of sexual offender background checks. These limitations typically involve inaccurate information uploaded to the registry, outdated information, or trouble verifying offenses committed in states other than the one you are searching in.

As long as you keep this information in mind while performing a sex offender background check and take steps to find all of the information you need in other places, you can gain a relatively complete picture of someone’s criminal history.

Final Thoughts

Sexual offender background checks are essential in verifying a person’s history, double-checking criminal records, and ensuring that an applicant is eligible for certain occupations. While they may not be the most exciting or pleasant thing to perform, sexual offender background checks keep job places, dates, and neighborhoods safer and ensure that you have all the information about someone’s past.

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