How To Complete a Criminal Records Check

Employers usually do background checks, as one way to ensure that a person hired does not have a criminal background or personal history that may later lead to criminal acts or problems in the workforce.  If you'll be doing a lot of criminal background checks, you may want to consider taking the process a step further and pursuing a private investigator's license.  The time spent could save you a lot of money and time in the long run.

In conducting complete background checks, a personal, financial and criminal search is done to lookup a person's information. The process involves retrieval of information from federal and government archives and other databases, for the purpose verifying identity; finding proof of criminal records if any; assessing a person's financial history or bankruptcy records; and for other specific purposes.

A complete criminal records check should include information gathered through:

Nationwide Criminal Records Search

  1. The results include the person's offense and description of the sentence given searched through databases for Misdemeanors, Felonies, and/or Probation Violations. Photos of the offender are sometimes available in some record decisions.
  2. Searches are done in nationwide and statewide databases including the:

  • FBI Most Wanted
  • Office of Foreign Assets Control Database; OFAC (Terrorist Database)
  • US Marshals List
  • DEA - Drug Enforcement Agency
  • ATF - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm
  • DPS - Department of Public Safety
  • AOC - Administration of Courts
  • DOC -Department of Corrections
  • US Secret Sexual Offender
  • Interpol
  • Customs
  • Driving Records

Statewide Criminal Courts Records Search

  1. The results reveal felony, sex offender, misdemeanor, probation, inmate, or other state and county offenses of a subject searched from statewide databases.
  2. The background checks are compliant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements for screening possible tenants or for employment.
  3. Information on a person's state of residence for the past seven years is usually included in the report.

Regional Criminal Record Search

  1. The results include misdemeanor, felony, sex offender, and county offense records found using multi-state search in databases of any United States region.

County Criminal Record Search

  1. The results reveal the most current data available in the county.
  2. Investigators are able to physically look up records at any county court house.

The most effective way to get accurate and complete details to complete a criminal background check is to look for a reputable company to do the criminal records check for you. These companies usually maintain databases of all the government agencies.

Since databases are increasingly published online, using the web has become the most popular means of retrieving criminal records. The cost is usually a nominal administrative fee, or on a per-record charge, or through a subscription. For employment agencies and corporations that regularly run background checks of applicants, using online databases is a quicker access than waiting for a written response from a government agency. There are websites though, that have available databases to search records you need. You can simply type in a person's name and the database generates results that tell you if a person has a criminal record.

Generally, if an arrest is conducted, it is filed as a public record, except if a juvenile is arrested. A juvenile's criminal records are not made public since they are given more protection than an adult. Unless the crime committed is a federal offense, the record of a person's arrest is filed as a state record. Criminal records can be requested and obtainable from the government agencies responsible for keeping the records in the state or county by phone, through fax, by mail, or in person.

Aside from the basic personal information and identity verification information provided, financial information including bankruptcy and criminal records can also be requested to complete a criminal background check.  You can learn more about conducting thorough background checks by taking some online classes in criminal law.


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