There are many reasons why we’d want to know if a job candidate or a potential significant other has a criminal record. Let’s be honest, no business owner would like to have an employee that was sentenced for some serious crime. At the same time, it isn’t proper to discriminate against people who’ve been to jail and served their sentence. This is a really touchy field that requires a fine balance between providing these people with an opportunity to work and to protect a business and other employees from dangerous people.
Thankfully, there are ways you can have an insight into the status when it comes to every persons’ criminal record, if there is any, of course. You can Google them, of course, but the information you’ll get won’t always be accurate. The best ways are to check government records or hire a third-party service provider. Surely, this is the best way by far due to the fact that these tools have a way of taking a look into the records of this kind. CheckPeople.com and other companies offer these services. Let’s take a look at these possibilities.
Check Government Databases
In the US, the FBI, state divisions of criminal justice, and courts keep criminal record databases. The reasons are pretty obvious, so we are not going to get into the details. In general, only prosecutors, members of law enforcement, and other government personnel have full access to these databases. The public has limited access, which makes sense. If you’re running an employment background check, an intermediate level of access might be available. Every person needs to have a certain level of knowledge in this field. Otherwise, finding this kind of information could be impossible.
Use a Private Screening Service
Many private companies are performing criminal background searches today. Some are free, and others aren’t. The key is for the companies who have this kind of interest to be aware of this fact. Knowing how they work is important because the data some retrieve isn’t always reliable. They collect conviction records in several ways. Sometimes, the download government data in batches. Often, they will scour the internet for information, including the Deep Web and the Dark Web. They might take an old-fashioned approach and actually send someone to check hard copy files.
Not every such service provider keeps information updated with new court orders, like acquittals, dismissals, or expungements, even if the initial record data is accurate. Information accuracy and company regulation are limited and sometimes unreliable. This is why it’s important to know where you can obtain this kind of information. Generally, criminal records are considered public.
The purpose of public court proceedings is to demand responsibility from the justice system and assure the media and the public that justice exists. Public record access helps fulfill this aim, even though some people will argue it should have its limits. At the moment, practically anyone can go to a state agency or court website or the court clerk’s office and obtain someone’s criminal record. But that doesn’t mean that this is the only way you can do that. In fact, taking a look at this information online is a much faster way you can do that.
Publicly Accessible Information
When it comes to records of convictions, the information available might include a list of convictions, any fees or fines, the sentence, and obviously the defendant’s name. The list of convictions will extend to the statutory citation and offense. The sentence will include probation or the length of a prison term.
Not all information is publicly accessible, which makes sense if you understand the nature of this information. Therefore, not all the details should be available to the public. Things like medical history, one’s social security number, and other things are considered sensitive and are off-limits as such, alongside the details of the crime itself. Especially if we are talking about some harder felonies and criminal acts.
Public Access Rule Exceptions
One exception involves sealed records, which is when the court has sealed a conviction from public view. In most states, people with criminal records are allowed to ask a court to expunge or “seal” a conviction. In this case, you would need to have permission to take a look at these. To obtain this permission, you will need to file for one.
How to Search State Records
To locate a criminal record on the internet, type in “criminal history records” and the name of the state into your search engine. This will yield several sites. However, not all of these sites are credible, which makes perfect sense, due to the fact that they don’t have the access to this kind of info. You need to look for records held by a state agency or a state court.
Double-check your results because you might have found a private company’s website that simply looks official. It might be a legitimate one despite that, but you never know. You can’t trust just any private background search company. Therefore, you need to take a look at some credible sources. The appearance could mislead you sometimes, but if you are an owner who would like to have credible information, you need to look further than just a proper design, you need to actually see that the info you are taking a look at is credible enough for you to use it.
Also, there’s a difference between “public access” and “free access.” Some states charge a fee, while others offer free online access. So, before you actually conduct these processes, you need to take a look at the particularities that surround these kinds of processes. Not being prepared for it could mislead you into something else, and basically, just waste your time. If you go down to the courthouse, the physical documents should be free, and you’ll only have to pay for copies. Remember, you need to take a look at the peculiarities of these processes before you conduct them.
The Risks of Inaccurate Data
Data on any site can be inaccurate, be it a private company’s site or a government one. Sometimes people’s names get mixed up, and one person’s conviction is attributed to someone else. Identity theft is a common problem today, and it’s relevant to criminal history. Therefore, you don’t need to rely just on one source when you look for someone’s criminal record. Thankfully, there are a couple of ways you can take a look at this information.
Someone might steal your wallet with your ID documents in it and give it to the police when they apprehend him in relation to another crime later. You might have nothing more than a speeding ticket to your name, but if the thief has a drug arrest, it will be added to your record. It can also be that a record was sealed, but a glitch in the system led it to remain open. So, every business owner needs to have an understanding of these situations. The reason is pretty simple. As you can see, these misunderstandings can happen, and they could be pretty damaging to the person in question.