It is unfortunate, but there are plenty of people out there who commit crimes. You may come in contact with some every day. If you are concerned that someone you know or have recently met may have a criminal record, there are ways you can check:
- Listen to your instincts. Trust your gut. If your instincts are telling you there is something wrong with the person or you don’t feel like you can trust them, pay attention, even if you cannot find a criminal history. Often, our instincts tell us more than research ever could. Remember: Not all criminals get caught.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. When you are near the person you are concerned about, pay attention. Notice who they talk to, and what they say and do in public. If they seem comfortable with violence or activities you feel are illegal or immoral, there may be some criminal activity in their past. Also, pay attention to how the person reacts when a police officer or authority figure is near.
- Start with an online search. There are several online searches that say they can provide a criminal background check. These sites usually do not have access to law enforcement-level sites. They do, however, search public criminal records and for a fee, can run these searches much faster than you could contact each local record office. The online search is worth a few bucks--just don’t rely upon it completely.
- Talk to their friends and relatives. Sometimes just getting to know the friends and relatives of the other person is a good way to learn about their activities. Once they are comfortable, people will let slip all sorts of comments about how their friend or nephew once was caught stealing cars or had a drug problem in their youth. Just be patient and listen.
- Search public county records. Some records are public when accessed through the county records office where the person lives or where the crime was committed.
- Contact your state Attorney General. Each state has different procedures for obtaining government information that is not public. Contact your state Attorney General and they will let you know the policies and options you have for getting this information.
- Hire a licensed private investigator. When you’ve struck out on all your other searches but still have a feeling that you need to check, you may consider hiring a professional. Private investigators have access to information the average Joe does not and they have the time to run down leads and question people. Using an investigator can be expensive since they often charge on an hourly basis. Be sure you need to risk the expense to get the information you are after.
Background checks are often time consuming and costly. If you are certain that you need to verify if someone has a criminal record, then follow these steps to do some serious searching. A few online classes in criminal justice may also give you an edge if you are in a position to be regularly searching for this type of information.