Criminal Background Check 101
When an employer requests a criminal background check and the results include a positive criminal history, where does that information come from?
A good place to get the answer to this question (and more) is to have a basic understanding of how criminal records are generated, stored, and made available to the public.
The origin of a criminal record occurs when an individual is arrested by a law enforcement agency because he is suspected of having committed a crime. The person is then formally charged in a court, after an investigation is conducted. All criminal records are under the supervision of the clerk of the respective court that has jurisdiction of the case.
Eventually, the case is heard and adjudicated and the charged individual is either released as a result of a non-conviction, or convicted and sentenced to a penalty that depends on the severity of the crime, previous convictions and other mitigating or aggravating issues. All these records remain in the custody of the clerk of the court, but are considered public record, unless there is some special circumstance.
If anyone wants to see the record or if there is a record on someone, she generally must physically go to the courthouse, look up the case number in an index, give that to the clerk who will then go and pull the file containing the paperwork pertaining to the case and let the retriever view it there in the records room. If copies are required, they are generally done by the clerk for a fee.
Some counties, however make this information available on the internet, where it may be viewed by the general public. Caution is advised when using the internet to obtain a criminal background check, because while some sites are quite good and complete, others are difficult to use and often incomplete or inaccurate.
County courts as well as law enforcement agencies in most cases also report activity to a central state repository, which may be made available to the public. The quality of the information contained in these repositories can range from accurate and adequate to less than useful because of omissions and inaccuracies. Many states don’t make the information in their repositories available at all, and others make access so inconvenient that it is basically worthless.
Crimes are also reported to a national criminal database known as NCIC, but these records are not generally made available to the public.
Commercial databases purchase information from courts that allow it, but although the information from these sources is usually fast and cheap, it should never be used as an employer’s primary source for a criminal background check.
For more information on how to obtain a quality criminal background check call 866-914-2567 or click here.
Fine Print: We are not attorneys, and the content in this blog should be considered as informational and not as legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney.