1. Home
  2. Protection
  3. Background checks pending charges
We are reader supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Read Disclosure

Can Background Checks See Pending Charges?

If you are worried about a background check showing up pending charges or arrest data, you need to read this article. We have all the information you need and also detail the best background checking sites for you to check your own records.

A background check is a simple way for employers to take a look at your past records to see if you have any criminal convictions or other things on your file that might preclude you from the job.

In many states, there is a seven-year limit on how far backward you can look at someone’s criminal records. But one of the questions we get asked most frequently is whether pending charges will show up on a background check.

In this article, we will provide you with a definitive answer and also give you all the information you need to find out for yourself what shows up on your background check.

What is a background check?

A background check is an online search tool that will trawl through hundreds of thousands of publicly available records to reveal as much information as possible about someone.

It often comes as a surprise to people just how much information about them is publicly available. The sort of information these background checking sites can find includes:

  • Criminal records (state, county, and city)
  • Employment history
  • Financial records
  • Credit history
  • Education history (high school and college)
  • Work authorization
  • Driving record
  • License details
  • Social media profiles

On its own, most of this data tells us very little. But when it is combined together, it can provide a revealing picture of a person which is useful for all sorts of different reasons.

Most people know about background checks because they have been subjected to one when applying for a job or looking to rent an apartment. But they are actually something that anyone can do.

But there is a difference between the general background checks that you can do at home and the consumer background checks that employers and landlords do. These checks are governed by a number of different laws and regulations which place strict limits on what information they can look at and who they can share it with.

But personal background checking sites have fewer limitations and they can often give a more detailed report. People use these sites for all sorts of different reasons:

  • Criminal checks – It is not just employers that want to know about criminal records. A lot of people have concerns about neighbors or others. A background check can give you a categorical answer whether someone you know is hiding a secret criminal past.
  • Tracking down a lost family member or friend – Everyone has a person from their past who they have lost contact with. It might be a cousin, an old schoolfriend, or your lost love. Whoever you want to track down, a background check offers a quick and easy way to find out where they are, how to contact them, and more about their life.
  • Looking into someone’s past – If there is a mysterious person in your neighborhood, in the office, or who has just started dating your sister, and you want to get the lowdown on them, a background checkis a solution. It can give you a comprehensive insight into their lives and who they are, and it can do it fast!
  • Checking your own records – If you know you are going to be subjected to a background check, it is always a good idea to know in advance what might come up. That’s why so many people are choosing to run background checks to find out what information about yourself is in the public domain and might be seen by potential employers or landlords.

What is the most effective background checking site?

Running a background check on yourself is one sure-fire way to find out if any pending charges there might be against you is showing up on a background check.

If you want to know, you need to choose a background checking site that offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date results possible. We have been testing all the top background checking sites to try and identify just that. Here is a rundown of our top two background checking sites on the market right now.

1. Instant CheckMate

Instant Checkmate - Editors choice

Instant CheckMate is the perfect background checking site if you need to get information fast. It is a super-fast site that can turn around almost any request in just a few minutes. Even if you can only give it a minimal amount of information, you will get impressive results in moments. The fast speeds don’t mean you have to compromise on quality either. Instant CheckMate’s results are accurate and detailed.

There is a dedicated Instant CheckMate desktop dashboard that is simple, neat, and easy-to-use. You can also choose to manage your searches on Android and iOS apps that are similarly well-designed. Instant Checkmate offers an impressive customer support team as well which makes it one of the most positive user experiences we tested.

Instant CheckMate will cost you $34.78 per month or $27.82 a month if you sign up for a three-month subscription. It is not the cheapest background checking site on the market but if you need fast and accurate results, there are few better.

2. TruthFinder

TruthFinder - Editors choice

TruthFinder big USP is accuracy. It can deliver astonishingly accurate results even if you input information that is incorrect or misleading. Its algorithms are able to cut out incorrect data and still deliver results that are consistently accurate and impressive. It makes for reports that are detailed, up-to-date, and unerringly accurate.

These reports are simple to scan through to and everything you do is managed by one of the nicest-looking desktop dashboards we tested. There are also impressive apps for Android and iOS devices too.

A real highlight of using TruthFinder is its customer support. This is available 24/7 on a toll-free number and that means you can get help with your searches whenever it is the best time for you. Prices are competitive too. Put all this together and TruthFinder is another hugely impressive background checking site.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: Looking for deep insight into your own public record? Try TruthFinder, one of the industry titans. Get the service with our generous reader discount.

Will a background check show my pending charges?

This is not a question that can be answered with a simple yes or no because the answer depends on various factors. These include where in the country you are, what background checking service is being used to research you, and what your potential employer or landlord is looking for.

The truth is that in most states, an arrest or a pending charge will show up on a background check. But this is not the case everywhere.

A good example of an exception to the rule is California. In California, all pending charges and arrest details will show up on a background check. This includes felony and misdemeanor charges. But if the search is taking place in a different county to where the charge has been filed, it won’t show up.

So, if you are applying for a job based in Orange County and you have a pending charge on file in Los Angeles County, a background check won’t reveal it. But if the charge was in Orange County, they will see it.

Arkansas is another interesting case. There, a background check will reveal a pending felony charge but not a pending misdemeanor.

In many states, it will also make a difference if you been arrested for something or if you have been charged. A lot of states have laws that prohibit employers from considering arrests when deciding whether or not to hire someone. This is rooted in the idea that being arrested is not proof of guilt or even that there is enough evidence to charge you with an offense.

The other big factor is the type of background check that is being run. He majority of criminal cases are heard at the County Court level. But not all County Court files are readily accessible to background checking sites.

Often, they will have to send a runner to a court in person to look at these records. Some sites don’t offer this service while employers in some other countries may opt not to take advantage of it. As a result, even if there is a pending charge outstanding, it still may not show up on your records.

How can I know if a pending charge is going to show up?

The truth is that it is very difficult to know for sure whether or not a pending charge or arrest will show up on a background check. But there are a few things you can do to get an idea:

  • Run a background check on yourself – Running your own background check will show what information is out there about you and will also reveal whether or not a pending charge or arrest is showing on your files.
  • Check your local laws – Laws on this differ from state to state, so do some research and see what the rules are where you are. If you live somewhere like California, you can use these laws to your advantage when applying for a job.
  • Speak to your lawyers – It is sometimes possible to get charges struck from the records. If this happens, they will definitely not show up on any background check.

If you have gone through all of these stages and still have pending charges that you expect to appear on your background check, the best advice we can give is to preempt the check and speak to your potential employees or landlords first.

If you can provide a convincing explanation about what happened, why you have been charged, and what is likely to happen about those charges, some employers and landlords may be willing to overlook them. This is especially likely if you are expecting to be cleared of the charges and can provide them with some sort of proof of this fact.

This approach is not 100% by any means. There are some employers and landlords who won’t want to know and will automatically exclude you. This means the approach is a bit of a gamble, but we are aware of cases where it has worked and, as the old saying goes, “honesty is always the best policy.”


Pending charges and arrests can show up on background checks but there are various reasons why they may not. In this article, we explained this is a lot of detail and also suggested some way to check what will and will not show up on your background check.

The main recommendation is to run a background check on yourself to see what it shows. We have recommended two excellent sites to do this on and also given you some general tips about background checks and what they can show.

Have you ever had a background check run on you which showed some pending charges or arrest data? How did you deal with the situation? Do you have advice or pointers for our readers? It is always helpful to hear real-life experiences especially if they can offer some advice not included in this article, so please do share your thoughts and experiences with us using the comment box below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.