Obtaining Criminal Records
Today more than ever, criminal records are being utilized by
everyday people to investigate the potential dangers of people we may
encounter on a daily basis in our personal and professional lives. Ideally, any criminal activity
in the past of people we encounter would be fully disclosed up front. However,
this ideal world is not handed to us on a silver-platter. Instead, we must
investigate for ourselves the criminal past of people that may otherwise neglect
to inform us of past criminal activity.
Who should be investigated? Many people are surprised at who can actually
have a criminal background. Anyone you encounter has the possibility of having
past criminal activity, and you have not only a right but a need to know this
vital information. Do you live next door to a sexual
predator? Who is actually babysitting your children, or teaching them at school? People with criminal
backgrounds are not necessarily going to be forthcoming with their criminal
past. Instead, it is your responsibility to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Obtaining criminal records is the number one method for investigating the
criminal background of any person you may encounter. While this may sound a
daunting task for anyone, people are usually surprised at how easy these criminal
records are to obtain with the right knowledge, and remember, knowledge is
There are three basic methods for obtaining the criminal records of any individual – a
nationwide investigation, a state investigation, and finally a county investigation.
Deciding on which method is right for you will depend largely on your situation
and needs. All methods are beneficial in the long run, but obviously, each
method will tell different degrees of information.
- Searching for nationwide records will usually include a Federal database of
people that have committed and been convicted of Federal crimes. There are
Federal databases that can be searched for criminal activity from 1982 to the
present. Individuals that are on probation or parole will also be included
in the database along with when the individual was incarcerated, what the person
was convicted or accused of committing, and other pertinent information.
- Searching for statewide records will reveal criminal activity for specific
states. Each of the states will have their own database of criminal
activity by an individual for that specific state. The year each database
was started will vary from state to state. The information available will
include the criminal activity of individuals that resulted in arrest and
incarceration. Usually, the information will include probation or parole
information as well as the terms of that probation or parole.
- Finally, county records will include the criminal activity information
for individuals that resulted in arrest and jail time but not usually prison
time. The information revealed will generally depend on the county of arrest
and the offense committed as well as the sentence.
Obtaining the actual criminal records of an individual will depend a great
deal on the jurisdiction under which you are attempting to get the criminal
records. Each jurisdiction will have specific laws with which they must comply.
In addition, certain records are only findable by searching certain databases.
For instance, searching statewide records will not usually include
county or Federal criminal records. On that same note, if you are searching
Federal records, you will not be privy to state or county criminal records. In addition,
you will usually need to investigate all of the jurisdictions separately.
Each state, each county, and the Federal government
each have separate databases containing criminal activity.
One method of obtaining these records is to contact
each agency involved separately and file a petition to get the records released
to you personally. Another popular method is to utilize the internet for the
One search that remains popular today is the sex registry database. This is
a nationwide database of sex offenders available freely with the creation of
Megan’s Law by simply doing a search via the internet. This important
registry includes all persons required to register as a sex offender due to
inappropriate sexual activity towards another person.
Many people are electing to utilize a number of popular web sites available
online that offer the service of providing criminal records easily by combining
all the relevant information needed to get the records with ease. Since obtaining
these records can be time consuming, confusing, and often inaccurate, finding
the right method for you is important.
Each of the databases – the Federal, the state, and the county – has
their benefits. Which is best? The answer will depend greatly on your specific
needs. However, using a first-class criminal background querying web site will
allow you to get all of the information you need to make the right choice in
exploring the criminal background of the people closest to you and your loved
ones. After all, aren’t those you love worth the information you will
obtain at any cost?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick Baird is a Licensed Private Investigator and a recognized
authority in the industry. He is co-founder of www.a1peoplesearch.com which
provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on everything you would
need to know about the people search industry and public records retrieval.
Permission to use and copy articles is granted
as long as entire article including About the Author is included.