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What Is A Level 2 Background Check?

If you’ve been asked to undergo a less common Level 2 background check, you’ll understandably have some questions. What is a Level 2 background check? Why have I been asked to take a Level 2 background check? What’s the background check going to reveal?

Background checks are a common part of the hiring process and research shows that 94% of employers use some form of a background check to screen prospective employees.

In this article, we’ll answer your questions and explain the Level 2 background check process so you know what to expect.

What Is A Level 2 Background Check?

What Is A Level 2 Background Check?

Technically, a Level 2 background check refers to an enhanced background check in the state of Florida. Other states allow for enhanced background checks as well, but Florida is the only state that actually uses the term Level 2 background check.

If you’ve been asked to undergo a Level two background check, then you’re probably a Florida resident, so we’ll keep our focus on the rules laid down by the Florida State Legislature.

What’s The Difference Between A Level 1 Background Check and A Level 2 Background Check?

Again, the term Level 1 background check is only used in Florida. In Florida, background checks that are required by law, are divided into Level 1 and Level 2. These checks may be required for employment purposes (including hiring contractors), obtaining a professional license, and for the purpose of volunteering.

The key point to note here is the term required by law. The vast majority of pre-employment background checks are not required by law, and when a check is not a legal requirement, employers can run various types of background checks to suit their hiring needs.

In Florida, when a background check is required by law, employers have to follow the rules set forth in Chapter 435 of the Florida Statutes which deal with employment screening.

To be clear, Level 1 and Level 2 background checks refer to legally required background checks, governed by Florida Statute.

Under the statute, a Level 1 background check is name-based and will include an employment history check and a statewide criminal record check. The check will also include a search of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website. A Level 1 background check may also include a search of local criminal record databases.

A Level two background check uses a fingerprint-based search to check local, state, and national databases for any criminal record you might have. The search uses information supplied by local law enforcement, the Department of Law Enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The background check will also verify your employment history, qualifications, and credentials.

If either check uncovers disqualifying offenses, you will not pass the background check and employment will be denied unless an exemption is granted.

Who Is Required To Undergo A Level Two Background Check?

Who Is Required To Undergo A Level Two Background Check?

Any person who will be placed in a position of trust while working with children, the elderly, or any other vulnerable population will be required to undergo a Level 2 background check.

This requirement covers many roles and includes:

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Daycare workers
  • Care, home employees,
  • Volunteers
  • School employees
  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Fire service personnel

A Level two background check is deemed necessary when working with these population groups because the potential for mistreatment and abuse is so high when people cannot defend or advocate for themselves.

A Level 2 background check is an important part of safeguarding the wellbeing of vulnerable people, and if you work in certain sectors of the economy, you’ll find yourself subject to a new search every time you apply for a job or volunteer position.

This level of background check may also be required for fostering or adoption.

Employees working in the financial services industry are often required to undergo an enhanced background screening as well, however that screening is not covered under Chapter 435.

What Does A Level 2 Background Check Look For?

A Level 2 background check makes an in-depth search of criminal records databases to ensure that individuals convicted of certain offenses are not placed in positions where they can harm vulnerable people.

Chapter 435 of the Florida Statute requires verification that no person subject to a Level 2 background check has been arrested and is awaiting disposition for a listed offense; has been found guilty of a listed offense, or has pleaded guilty to, or plead nolo contendere to an offense listed in the Statute.

Listed offenses in the Statute are those relating to:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person, child, or disabled adult
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Kidnapping or false imprisonment
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Prostitution
  • Resisting arrest with violence
  • Obscene literature
  • Felony assault, battery, or culpable negligence
  • Felony voyeurism or video voyeurism
  • Felony theft or robbery
  • Felony sale of controlled substances
  • Felony exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • Felony drug abuse prevention or control
  • Assault or battery on a minor
  • Killing an unborn child by injuring the mother
  • Luring or enticing a child
  • Taking, enticing, or removing a child beyond state limits with criminal intent regarding custody proceedings
  • Child abuse, aggravated child abuse, or neglect of a child
  • Contributing to the delinquency or dependency of a child
  • Negligent treatment of children
  • Prohibited acts by persons in familial or custodial authority
  • Sexual misconduct with developmentally disabled clients
  • Sexual misconduct with mental health patients
  • Sexual battery
  • Sexual misconduct with certain forensic clients
  • Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors
  • Incest
  • Sexual performance by a child
  • Sexual misconduct in juvenile justice programs
  • Lewd and lascivious behavior or lewdness and indecent exposure
  • Adult abuse or neglect
  • Abuse, aggravated abuse, or neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • The exploitation of aged persons or disabled adults
  • Escape or aiding an escape
  • Harboring, aiding, or concealing an escaped prisoner
  • Exhibiting firearms or weapons within 1000 feet of a school
  • Possessing a weapon, electric weapon or device, or destructive device on school property
  • Gang recruitment
  • Depriving a law enforcement or corrections officer of means of protection or communication
  • Cruel or inhuman treatment of an inmate resulting in bodily harm
  • Introduction of contraband into a correctional facility

Further offenses will be screened for if the Level 2 background check is related to participation in the Medicaid Program. These offenses are those in relation to:

  • Neglect or abuse of a patient
  • Unlawful manufacture or distribution of controlled substances
  • Unlawful prescribing or dispensing
  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Financial misconduct
  • Moral turpitude
  • Delivery of Medicare, Medicaid, or other health service or health insurance
  • Falsifying records
  • Bid tampering
  • Misuse of confidential information
  • Official misconduct
  • A threat against a public servant
  • Unlawful compensation
  • Criminal use of a public record

How Is A level 2 Background Check Carried Out?

How Is A level 2 Background Check Carried Out?

You’ll be asked to submit information to your employer, to a state agency, or to an authorized background check agency. The law requires you to provide complete information when you begin your background check. You can also be asked for additional information during the background check, and you’ll have 30 days to comply with that request.

Because a Level 2 background check requires a copy of your fingerprints, you’ll need to attend a fingerprint appointment.

Fingerprints are taken electronically, and the process is very straightforward. Usually, you’ll be given a cleansing wipe to clean dirt and grease from your hands. Then you’ll place four fingers from one hand onto the scanner, followed by the fingers from your other hand. Next, you place both thumbs on the scanner.

Your fingerprints will be sent electronically to the relevant law enforcement agencies, and any records which match your fingerprints will be made available to the party carrying out your screening.

It’s very important to understand that when you undergo a legally required background check, you may be subject to criminal penalties if you provide false information.

How Far Back Does A Level 2 Background Check Go?

A level 2 background check can discover all of your criminal offenses no matter their age. However, you won’t necessarily be disqualified from employment or from holding a professional license because of your offense.

Florida law allows for some exceptions to disqualification. You may request an exemption from disqualification in the following circumstances.

Felony – When three years have elapsed since the completion of all nonmonetary sentencing requirements for a felony.

Offenses that were classified as felonies when the offense occurred but which are now classed as misdemeanors, and for which all nonmonetary sentencing requirements are complete.

Misdemeanor – When all nonmonetary sentencing requirements for a misdemeanor have been completed.

Delinquency – Juvenile offenses that would otherwise be a felony if committed by an adult may be granted an exception once 3 years have passed since the completion of all nonmonetary sentencing requirements.

In all cases, fines, fees, prosecution costs, restitution awards, or any other financial penalty imposed by the court as part of sentencing for the disqualifying offense, must be paid in full before an exemption can be granted.

In addition to completing all sentencing requirements and clearing any associated financial obligations, candidates requesting an exemption must be able to show convincing evidence of full rehabilitation.

Evidence should include an account of the circumstances surrounding the offense and an explanation of why those circumstances no longer exist or no longer present a risk of re-offending, as well as a record of your good conduct since that time.

Exemptions may not be granted to individuals convicted of a listed felony solely on the basis of having obtained a pardon or clemency, or by having civil rights restored.

Exemptions to disqualification will also be unavailable to those classed as career offenders or sexual predators. Exemptions cannot be granted to sex offenders unless their requirement to register as a sex offender has been removed.

However, sex offenders who no longer have to register as sex offenders will not be eligible for employment in any childcare role.

Individuals with felony convictions related to the following offenses will also be disqualified for child care roles:

  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Incest
  • Domestic violence
  • Aggravated assault or battery, or sexual battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Luring or enticing a child
  • Taking, enticing, or removing a child beyond state limits with criminal intent regarding custody proceedings
  • Sexual activity with a child
  • Solicitation of a child
  • Unlawful sexual activity with a minor
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Child abuse or neglect of a child
  • Child pornography
  • A drug control and prevention offense within the last 5 years

The following misdemeanor offenses are also disqualifying for child care roles and cannot receive an exemption:

  • A battery of a minor
  • Luring or enticing a child
  • Child pornography

How Long Does A Level 2 Background Check Take?

How Long Does A Level 2 Background Check Take?

Submitting your information and fingerprints for the background check is the quick part. Then, you’ll have to wait for as long as it takes for the law enforcement agencies involved in your background check to run a search of your records.

You could wait a week or two, or you could wait a month or perhaps a little longer. There’s no way to say for sure how long the search will take.

If more information is needed, because you supplied incomplete information, or failed to supply information, then the check will take even longer, so fill out your background check with as much detail as you can.

You won’t be able to begin any job you’ve been offered until the background check clears you.

Can A Level 2 Background Check Be Wrong?

Well, no system is perfect and mistakes can be made, but when a record search is tied to your fingerprints, it’s going to be more accurate than a background check tied to your name.

If you undergo a Level 2 background check and your report lists an offense that you know you didn’t commit, there is a procedure that you’ll have to follow to prove mistaken identity, and have the mistake corrected.


A Level 2 background check is an enhanced background check that uses your fingerprints to search for criminal records in local, state, and national databases.

Florida is the only state that currently uses the term Level 2 background check, although enhanced fingerprint background checks are carried out in all states.

When you apply for jobs where you’ll be working with vulnerable populations, you’ll be legally required to pass an enhanced background check.

This type of background check can also be required for contractors, volunteers, financial services employees, foster parents and adoptive parents, and applicants for professional licenses.

If a disqualifying offense is found during your background check, it’s possible to apply for an exemption in certain circumstances.

Because Level 2 background checks are a legal requirement, supplying false information may lead to criminal penalties.