Criminal Records

Criminal Records are the documents or records that provide information regarding current or past criminal acitvities, arrests, incarceration throught the courts or law enforcement agencies such as DOC, sheriff's office, police and other agencies such as FBI. These information are provided through databased that contain detailed information regardin individuals civil or criminal records. Some states and counties might have not computerized their criminal records or have legal laws limiting public exposure to these records. Civil records usually contain judgements, bankruptcies, liens and tax liens and criminal records usually contain felonies and more serious crimes.

Search for Criminal Records

Why search for criminal records?

There are many reasons to do a search for criminal records.  Sometimes records are checked in order to see in advance what a potential employer might see if they do a background check.  This can help the applicant so that they can explain situations in advance to the employer.  Another reason people wish to look in to someone’s criminal history is to see if someone they know is potentially dangerous or untrustworthy in some way.  Whatever the reason, most records are available for public inquiry.

Many public safety and judicial organizations even promote the idea of doing background checks on people for various reasons.  Individuals volunteering at churches, hospitals, elderly care centers, hospices, and schools are usually checked and fingerprinted to make sure the person does not have a record of harming people who are vulnerable, or have any reason in their past to extort innocent victims.  Criminal background checks are a useful tool for keeping communities safer, and it is best to cooperate with law enforcement agencies that are willing to help the public help themselves be safe.

Criminal records are also searched when an individual is applying for a security clearance at any level.  Different results can be acceptable depending on the level of security clearance desired.  For example, parking tickets do not typically negatively affect a security clearance but drug trafficking does.
Law enforcement agencies such as police departments, sheriff’s departments, departments of public safety, highway patrol, FBI, ATF, and others also have capabilities to join their records together to create more complete files. This way, criminals committing crimes in multiple cities, counties, states or even countries will be known to more agencies. This leads to more efficient crime fighting because agencies can cooperate with each other over jurisdictional lines for the common purpose of keeping the public safe.

What is available in criminal records?

Criminal records are kept about all past and on-going investigations and convictions of individuals whether the legal action takes place at a local, state or federal level.  All organizations keep accounts of criminal activity, and most do it electronically which makes searching for specific records easier and more convenient.  There are some limitations placed on what information is available to the public.  For example, information that could change the outcome of an investigation, or if there is a current trial underway, is usually not made public.  After the results of the investigation or trial are determined, most of those records will be available.  Part of the reason for this could be to ensure integrity, a fair trial, or the safety of police officers or agents involved in the investigation. 

These criminal background searches can include anything from sex offender lists, outstanding warrants, criminal records, civil cases, searches for inmates in prison or jail, custody battles, bankruptcy claims, tax liens, felony records, and records of arrests which took place in other countries.  If a record is expunged or sealed, then the information about the verdict will no longer be available or it will show up as having been expunged.