Private Investigations and Personal Security/Background investigation


I am currently in the process of becoming an EMT on an ambulance in California, my goal is to become a firefighter paramedic. I know there will be an intensive background check and I am worried about my record affecting my future. I was caught shoplifting twice, about 10 years ago when I was 19 years old. The first time i received a civil demand letter/fine and the second time i was arrested, fingerprinted, and had to go to court. My question is this: I know the misdemeanor will show up  but will both show up in a background check? Is there a way to hide the civil demand? The misdemeanor is bad enough, i feel like i can prove my integrity has changed. With 2 on my record i am afraid i will never get to be a firefighter. What do you think the outlook is for me? Does the fact that 10 years has past make any difference? Thanks.

ANSWER: Lilian,

In most states your civil fine will not show up on a background check. Also, in many states your misdemeanor will not show up on a background check if it is over 7 years old. If you tell me in what state you plan to apply for your position, I will be able to give a much more detailed answer.

I would like to make a suggestion though. If you do reside in a state that permits your arrest record to be exposed on a background search, this should not discourage you from becoming a firefighter. Many of my colleagues are former police and firefighters. I'm confident that your arrest will not prevent you from getting the job as long as you are honest and explain that you are a different person now. Often when an employer asks about your arrests they assess your character during the interview and not the act itself.

Oleg Flaksman

O&O Investigations

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your answer Mr. Flaksman.
I live in California and plan to work here as well.
I hope that information helps!


In California there is a "7 year rule" meaning that for employment background checks your employer can only check the last 7 years of your criminal history. However municipalities in California often disregard this rule. The police department is exempt from the rule but the fire department is not. However I just consulted with a recruiter working in the Los Angeles Fire Department and he informed me that often the fire department will search your entire criminal history. This means they will see your misdemeanor but will not see your fine. The recruiter also mentioned what I told you yesterday; more people are disqualified for lying about their criminal past then due to the criminal past itself. I am sure you will be fine because you only need to mention your ONE misdemeanor which was 10 years ago. Just be honest!

Good Luck!!!

Oleg Flaksman

O&O Investigations

Private Investigations and Personal Security

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Oleg Flaksman


I can help with general private investigative question including procedures and legal aspects of surveillance, child custody, asset searches, background searches, due diligence, accident investigations, divorce investigations, domestic investigations and more!


I am a CA licensed private investigator (#27254). I have worked as an investigator for the past 5 years in N.Y. and C.A. I started my career as a surveillance investigator and then began researching other option in the Private Investigations Profession.

I am in several associations including: California Association of Licensed Investigators, National League of Licensed Investigators, United States Association of Professional Investigators, Private Investigators of California, Southern California Fraud Investigators, and the Association of Certified Background Investigators.

Detectives Training Institute. Baruch College.

©2017 All rights reserved.