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CRIMINAL RECORDS;

OLR Research Report


October 13, 2009

 

2009-R-0344

CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECKS REQUIRED BY STATUTE

By: James J. Fazzalaro, Principal Analyst

Kevin McCarthy, Principal Analyst

You asked that we identify all occupations, persons, or other entities for which criminal history background checks are required by statute. You also wanted to know who is responsible for the criminal history checks and what procedures must be followed. Finally, you wanted us to identify whether the subjects of these checks may be employed or licensed before the check has been completed.

SUMMARY

Criminal history check requirements are spread throughout the statutes (and in some state agency regulations) and cover a wide range of individuals, license and permit holders, and businesses. Among the many individuals required to undergo criminal history checks are public school employees and school nurses, police officers, bail bondsmen and bail enforcement agents, private investigators, state marshals, locksmiths, pawnbrokers and precious metals dealers (at local option), and coaches with direct contact with children in police-sponsored athletic activities.

Criminal history checks are also required for applicants for nursing home licenses, various types of gaming related licenses, detective and security service licenses, taxicab company certificates, and at the discretion of the Department of Banking (DOB), various entities in the financial services industry. There are also numerous instances in the social services area where criminal history checks are required.

In addition to these many types of individuals and businesses, the laws require criminal history checks for prospective employees of several state agencies including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Children and Families (DCF), Division of Special Revenue (DSR), and Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), as well as employees in the vital records unit of the Department of Public Health (DPH), Department of Correction (DOC) employees who have direct contact with inmates, and Department of Developmental Services (DDS) employees who provide direct client care. The DMHAS requirements also apply to volunteers.

The law requires anyone applying to DMV for a driver's license endorsement necessary to carry passengers, such as for school buses and other forms of student transportation, taxis, livery service vehicles, and motor buses to provide satisfactory evidence of the absence of a criminal record. Although the law explicitly requires that a criminal history records check be conducted only for school bus and student transportation vehicle drivers, all applicants for passenger endorsements of any type must, in fact, submit to a criminal record check.

The same is true for applicants for various types of liquor permits issued by the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP). The law (CGS 30-39) does not explicitly require that an applicant submit to a criminal history records check, but an applicant must indicate any prior criminal convictions on the application. While there is no explicit statutory language requiring applicants to submit to a criminal history check as there is in many other areas, the authority for DCP to conduct a criminal history check appears to be implied in DCP's administrative duty to determine the accuracy of the statement made on the application.

Finally, we note that many appointees for positions such as judges, family support magistrates, and Board of Pardons and Paroles members likely undergo criminal history checks before their appointment, but it is not specified in statute.

CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECKS SPECIFICALLY REQUIRED BY STATUTE OR AGENCY REGULATION

Table 1 shows the various types of employees, occupations, or business entities for which either specific statutes or agency regulations require criminal history checks, the cite for the requirement, the entity

responsible for having the check performed, and, to the extent this could be determined from the language of the statute or regulation, whether the person can be provisionally hired or licensed before the check results are complete.

Table 1: Criminal History Check Requirements

Employee, Occupation, or Business Entity Covered

Statute or Regulatory Authority

Agency

Responsible

Can Person be Hired or Licensed

Provisionally before Results of the Complete Check are Known

Education

Public school employees, including substitute teachers, student teachers, coaches, food service workers, janitors, and persons hired by supplemental service providers (e.g., tutors) under No Child Left Behind law

10-221

Local and regional school boards

Boards have discretion to require checks for those employed as teachers for noncredit adult education courses or activities who are not required to have teaching certificates

Private schools have discretion to apply the requirement to their applicants and employees

Yes, check must be conducted within 30 days after starting employment

School nurses and nurse practitioners

10-212

Local and regional school boards, some private schools

Not specified

Financial Institutions

Organizer, director, and appointed director of a Connecticut credit union

36a-437a

DOB

Not specified

Organizers of a Connecticut bank (DOB option)

36a-70

DOB

Not specified

Applicants for mortgage lender, mortgage correspondent lender, mortgage broker licenses, and certain affiliated individuals (DOB option)

36a-488

DOB

Not specified

Gambling

DSR employees

12-559

DSR

No

Personnel associated with pari-mutuel gambling, including owners, trainers, jockeys, concessionaires and their employees and vendors

12-578

DSR

Not specified

Applicants for casino gaming employees, service, or equipment licenses

12-586g,

12-586f

DSR

No

Applicants for sealed ticket dispensing machine

manufacturers and dealers registration

7-169i

DSR

Not specified

Applicants for bingo product manufacturers and equipment dealers

7-169d

DSR

Not specified

Applicants for vendor, affiliate, or occupational license in connection with CT Lottery Corporation

12-815a

CT Lottery Corporation

Not specified

Health Care

Prospective employees of DPH vital records unit (including prospective transfers to unit)

19a-40a

DPH

Not specified

Nursing home license applicants (includes owners, officers, directors, partners, and anyone with 10% or greater ownership interest)

19a-491b

DPH

Not specified

Miscellaneous

Locksmiths

20-691b

DCP

No

Pawnbrokers

(local option)

21-40

municipality

No for felony convictions

Precious metal dealers

(local option)

21-100

municipality

No for felony convictions

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permits, licenses, etc. (DEP option)

22a-6m

DEP

Not specified

Transfer of DEP license

(DEP option)

22a-6o

DEP

Not specified

Public Safety

Police officers

Regulations

7-294e-16

See explanation following table

Judicial Marshals

6-32g

Chief Court Administrator

Not specified

State Marshals

Regulations

6-38b-2

State Marshal Commission

Not specified

Environmental conservation officer trainees

26-5

DPS

Not specified in statute, in practice no

Bail enforcement agent

29-152f

DPS

Not specified

Bail bondsman

29-145

DPS

Not specified

Bail bond agent license applicants

38a-660

Department of Insurance, Division of Criminal Justice

Not specified

Applicants for pistol eligibility certificates

29-36g

DPS

Yes

Applicants for temporary state pistol permits

29-28

DPS

No

Applicants for pistol permits

29-29

Local authority

Yes (local option)

Retail store employees selling firearms

29-37f

Store

No

Applicants for security service license

29-161k

DPS

Not specified

Applicants for private detective or detective agency license

29-155

DPS

Not specified

Applicants for private investigator registration

29-156a

DPS

No

Applicants for security officer license

29-161q

DPS

No

Coaches in police-sponsored athletic activities with direct contact with children (local police department option)

29-17b

DPS

Not specified

Licenses for storage, transportation, and use of explosives

29-349

DPS

Not specified

Applicants for DOC positions that involve direct contact with inmates

18-81l

DOC

Not specified

Social Services

Personal care assistants for disabled Medicaid recipients

Regulations

17b-262-596

Agency providing the service

No

Homemaker-companion agency employees

20-675

Agency providing the service

Not specified

Unlicensed day care providers under Care4Kids program if Department of Social Services (DSS) reasonably believes that provider has been convicted of a relevant crime

Regulations 17b-749-12 et seq.

Daycare provider, DSS

Apparently no

Non-relative home day care receiving DSS day care subsidy

17b-750

DSS

No subsidy if provider has been convicted of any crime involving sexual assault on or serious physical injury to a minor. DSS may deny subsidy based on conviction of other offenses, e.g., risk of injury to a minor.

Prospective employee of a child day care center or group day care home in a position providing child care

19a-80

DPH

Not specified

Prospective employee of a family day care center in a position providing child care

19a-87b

DPH

Not specified

Prospective DMHAS employees and volunteers

17a-450c

DMHAS

No

Prospective DDS employees who will provide direct client care

17a-227a

DDS

No

Prospective direct care employees of providers under contract with or licensed by DDS to provide residential day or support services to persons with mental retardation (DDS option)

17a-227a

provider

No

Prospective employees of DCF

17a-6

DCF

Not specified

Applicants for licensure as foster care homes and any person age 16+ in the applicant's household

17a-114

DCF

Temporary placements allowed under certain conditions if applicant attests that no household member has been arrested for or convicted of specified crimes

Applicants for licenses for child care facility and child placement licenses

17a-151

DCF

No

Transportation

Applicants for taxi company certificate

13b-97

DOT

No

Prospective DMV employees

14-9a

DMV

Not specified

Applicants for school transportation vehicle driver's license

14-44

DMV

No. DMV may not issue license if applicant has been convicted of a serious criminal offense; can refuse to issue for other convictions.

LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL

The regulations of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council require, as a condition of appointment to a position of probationary candidate in a law enforcement unit in the state, that the candidate has been fingerprinted and that the fingerprints are submitted for a state and national criminal history check. The requirement applies even if the candidate is already employed by another law enforcement unit (Conn. Agencies. Regs. 7-294e-16). Under state law (CGS 7-294a), a law enforcement unit is any agency, organ, or department of the state or any of its subdivisions or municipalities whose primary functions include the: (1) enforcement of criminal or traffic laws; (2) preservation of public order; (3) protection of life and property; or (4) prevention, detection, or investigation of crime. This includes police officers, constables, special policemen appointed under several specific statutes, motor vehicle department inspectors designated to enforce motor vehicle laws, and others.

DOT-REGULATED TRANSPORTATION BUSINESSES

As shown above, the law explicitly requires applicants for a DOT certificate to operate a taxi company to submit to a state and national criminal history check. However, DOT also regulates several other for-hire transportation businesses including intrastate household goods movers, motor vehicles in livery service, and motor bus companies. As part of the administrative process for issuing the necessary certificate to operate, DOT requires submission of a criminal conviction history report on all corporate officers, limited company members, sole proprietors, partners, or anyone holding 10% or more of stock in the corporation. While this is part of the suitability determination for all of these business licensees, only applicants for taxicab operating certificates are explicitly required by the statutes to submit to criminal history checks.

LIQUOR PERMIT APPLICANTS AND PERMIT BACKERS

A state law generally permits denial of employment by the state or any of its agencies or of any license, permit, certificate, or registration to pursue, practice, or engage in an occupation, trade, vocation, profession, or business by reason of the prior conviction of a crime after consideration of (1) the nature of the crime and its relationship to the job applied for, (2) information regarding the degree of the applicant's rehabilitation, and (3) the elapsed time since conviction or release (CGS 46a-80). DCP invokes this law when considering the suitability of applicants for various types of liquor-related permits it issues.

The law requires the application to “indicate any crimes of which the applicant or the applicant's backer may have been convicted” (CGS 30-39). The application indicates that “in the event the investigation of your application reveals a felony conviction, you will be required to complete the Criminal Conviction Worksheet.” This worksheet requires submission of various types of documentation providing the information necessary to satisfy the review requirements of CGS 46a-80. While there is no explicit statement of DCP authority to require a criminal history check, there seems to be implied authority to do so as part of the application investigation.

CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECK PROCESS

The process for conducting criminal history records checks was standardized in 2001. This process is codified as CGS 29-17a. Many of the statutes that explicitly required submission to a criminal history check were amended by the legislation to refer to this codified procedure. The provision states, “If a criminal history check is required pursuant to any provision of the general statutes, such check shall be requested from the State Police Bureau of Identification and shall be applicable to the individual identified in the request.” It establishes a procedure under which the party requesting the check must arrange for fingerprinting the person and for conducting any other method of positive identification (such as a date of birth) the state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) require, if a national history check is required. The requestor must forward the fingerprints and other information to the state police for the state check and the state police submit the information to the FBI for the national check.

Under the regulations applying to unlicensed day care providers under Care4Kids program, DSS sends a fingerprint package to the provider. If the provider does not return the package, it is dropped from the program. Providers must complete cards, obtain fingerprints, and return them with the FBI fee to DSS, which forwards them to DPS.

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