What Is a Limited Criminal Background Check?

Employers and landlords often request limited background checks on applicants. These background checks inform the seeker of whether the applicant had any serious criminal problems within the state such as violent crimes or sexual offenses. Limited criminal background checks do not catch these problems if they occurred in another state, however.

Geographical Limitation

Unlike national criminal background checks, limited criminal background checks search for criminal records only within the state of residence of the subject of the search. Thus, if a convicted criminal moves to another state after serving time, the limited criminal background check won't show any criminal history if he's stayed out of trouble in the requesting state. Employers and landlords may want to do a national check instead to ensure that they don't miss important information from another state.

Listed Crimes

Limited criminal background checks list only certain types of crimes. For example, the limited background check that the Indiana State Police Department offers lists only felony and Class A misdemeanor arrests. If a subject is convicted of a lesser misdemeanor, it will not appear on the criminal background check; in addition, if a subject was arrested for a serious crime and was not convicted, the arrest will appear.


Limited background checks let employers or landlords know immediately whether an applicant was accused of a serious crime within the state's borders. Many employers and landlords use these kinds of checks to ensure that employees don't have a history of violence, and employers who work with small children may use them to weed out sex offenders. If the applicant is not native to the state, employers and landlords may need to run a national background check in addition.


Employers and landlords must get an applicant's consent in writing before running any kind of background check. Some state police departments allow limited background checks to be done online; a limited background check can also be requested in person from the state police. If a limited background check turns up nothing, the state police can provide a reference to a company that does national background checks.