DATE: July 2015 - Can Petty Theft Really Be a Federal Crime?
It seems hard to imagine such a small crime being prosecuted at the highest level, but it can happen, and if it does, it will not show up on a state or county search. Understanding what crimes are found on a federal level and why they’re deemed federal can help determine whether federal inquiries are a smart search for your background investigations needs. Not every potential employee is necessarily a good candidate to have federal searches ran on. However, employers are increasingly becoming more apt to be as complete as possible with their background investigations to avoid being sued for negligent hiring.
According to HR Magazine, “Employers are increasingly being sued for negligence and injuries resulting from workplace violence and
could pay $ 5-6 million for settlements and verdicts. Investing a small amount of money in quality criminal background checks could
possibly save an organization millions of dollars, help prevent lawsuits and workplace violence, and significantly lower employee turnover costs.” Comprehensive background checks would include inspecting a perspective employee from all angles and at all levels, including the federal level. Federal criminal searches often reveal serious violations of federal law that state or county searches do not pick up on. Embezzlement, child Pornography, and kidnapping are examples of higher level federal crimes that we are more familiar with due to popular television series and news stories, and are considered federal no matter where you live or commit the crime. Also, any crimes committed on military property or federal buildings are considered federal cases automatically.
Many crimes such as cyber crimes, tax evasion, identity theft, and credit card fraud that are increasing in relevance are also included
under the federal umbrella. Surprisingly, crimes that begin as a state or county felony can turn into federal prosecutions; for example,
there could be an instance of petty theft that could end up as a federal crime as soon as the offender crosses state lines with stolen
merchandise. These crimes are very relevant to employers, but could be overlooked because of not running comprehensive criminal
“Federal searches are important because if we were to simply run counties and statewide searches, we don’t get back any federal
results that the subject may have. Also, when we run an Origin or Cursory Indicator NY, we don’t always get a hit in regards to a federal
case. It all depends on the circumstances of the case and if they had been booked in a federal facility or a state/county facility. There
are many ‘what ifs’ and variables on whether a case becomes Federal.” – Kyle, Investigator at Commercial Investigations LLC. Federal
criminal inquiries are helpful in rounding out a criminal background package and are especially useful for upper level positions, and
positions with genuine levels of trust. Positions with children, government jobs, or jobs that require the employee to cross state lines
often justify running federal criminal inquiries.
Due to compliance standards, federal criminal searches are typically run for the past 7-10 years at the client's discretion. Commercial
Investigation’s federal criminal search is unique in that it employs additional verification elements via the subject's date of birth and
social security number to eliminate false hits. False hits frequently occur when a subject has a common name. Our investigative
approach at Commercial Investigations is to look at data from many angles and through many inquiries, which is why we believe
including federal criminal inquiries is a smart addition to background investigations. Michelle Pyan, President at Commercial
Investigations, recently explained on a Webinar the importance of Federal Criminal inquiries and when it would be in a company’s
best interest to have them run on prospective employees. To see the recording of the Webinar, visit: