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About Criminal Records

Find the information you need with a criminal records search

A criminal record is a document showing someone's criminal charges and convictions, from minor offenses like traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies. They're also known as police records, criminal reports, or criminal history records.

Criminal records contain important information, including:

  • The convicted offender's name and known aliases
  • The date of birth
  • A physical description, including height, approximate weight, tattoos, birthmarks, and other distinguishing characteristics.
  • The dates of apprehension, conviction, and sentencing
  • The offender's current status, whether incarcerated or released
  • The date of the offender's release or expected release

Criminal records are available to the public, but sorting through them on your own may be a slow, difficult process. This website provides you with the tools to easily find criminal records.

Why search criminal records?

Criminal records contain information that can be useful to individuals and businesses for a number of reasons.

Law enforcement officials check criminal records to determine if a suspect has committed similar crimes in the past. Employers check the criminal records of potential hires. And individuals can search criminal records to protect themselves.

Most employers check the criminal records of job applicants as part of their hiring process. Background checks have become a standard part of a job interview, in order to protect employees, customers, and company resources. A criminal record search allows employers to avoid hiring employees who have been convicted of particular offenses.

Landlords and property managers often search for the criminal records of potential tenants to verify that they have not been convicted of a serious crime. This is part of their screening process in order to protect the safety of other residents.

Some employers are legally required to check the criminal records of potential employees. This includes adoption agencies and daycares where people are charged with the care of young children.

Similarly, admissions offices at law schools and medical schools, healthcare organizations, and financial services firms all run a criminal record search as part of their background checks.

Individuals may also wish to perform a criminal record search for babysitters, new neighbors, or people they have met online. Running a criminal record search can protect you from becoming involved with offenders convicted of fraud, domestic violence, sexual offenses, or other serious crimes.

How to find the right criminal records

Criminal records are available to the public in all fifty states. Because people frequently relocate, your search should begin with a national criminal records database. You may not find criminal records from other jurisdictions if you only search at the state level.

After performing a national criminal record search, you may want to perform a state criminal record search. The Interstate Identification Index usually restricts criminal records to the nature of the offense and the date of conviction. State agencies typically have more detailed criminal records, which include court decisions after conviction.

The time it takes to search criminal records varies, depending on a number of factors. State laws, the nature of the offense, the date of the last offense, and other variables may require you to wait longer to receive criminal records.

It is important to use a reputable criminal records database. Some fraudulent or questionable websites contain false criminal records and mug shots of innocent people in order to slander them or extort money. Do not make any serious decisions without verifying the accuracy of any records.

You should review criminal records carefully to ensure their accuracy. Both false positives and false negatives can have serious consequences. It is always best to use an accurate, up-to-date criminal records database to conduct your search. Some websites and third-party services may have incomplete criminal records or inaccurate information.

Even if you're using a reliable criminal records database, the information may be incomplete. Some states have a very narrow scope on the types of criminal records that are available to the general public. For example, there are different classifications of sex offenders, and they may only list the most dangerous ones.

For the widest and most accurate searches, you should use the resources you'll find on this site.

How to perform the best criminal records search

Collect some basic information about the subject before conducting your search. At a minimum, you'll need the person's full name, although some databases may allow you to search by a partial name or alias.

When using an individual's name to conduct a criminal records search, you may receive numerous results. It is important to verify that you have the correct identity by cross-referencing additional details about your subject. This can help you avoid making mistakes about an individual's identity.

You should double check:

  • The approximate age of the person
  • Current and former place of residence
  • Distinguishing characteristics such as height, tattoos, or birthmarks

It is important to read the criminal record closely. Unlike an arrest record, a criminal record only includes offenses that ended in a conviction, whether the offender pled guilty or went to trial.

If the subject has been convicted of a crime, you will need to take a variety of factors into consideration. For example, you should consider the severity of the offense. A subject convicted of a Class E felony should be treated more cautiously than one convicted of a misdemeanor.

You may also want to consider the date of the subject's conviction. If the conviction was years ago, it may not be relevant today, particularly if the conviction was for a juvenile or minor offense. However, felony convictions may warrant additional attention, regardless of the date of conviction.

Keep in mind that many criminal records don't provide full details of the offense. You may need to speak with the subject and others with knowledge of the offense to learn more about the context of the conviction.

You'll also want to make sure the results of your criminal records search are accurate. Some convictions may have been overturned on appeal or expunged because the subject later introduced evidence to prove their innocence, or the appeals court found problems with the admissibility of certain evidence.

If a subject claims a conviction was overturned, you'll want to check with the courts in that jurisdiction to confirm the status of the criminal record. The clerk may alert you to a change in the criminal record that wasn't updated in the criminal records search.

Criminal records yield important information about people, but they don't always provide a complete picture. When reading a criminal record report, make sure to consider the details of the conviction closely in order to make informed decisions about that individual.