Criminal records keep a detailed list of any crimes you’ve ever been charged with, and a record can largely influence your success rate in finding a job, getting insurance and many other things. If you have a criminal record, you are entitled to a copy of that record as a result of the Freedom of Information Act.
If your criminal record contains any inaccurate information that is detrimental to you, you need to ask the state to correct it. If you have previously been convicted of a crime, but have stayed out of trouble, you may be able to seal or expunge (destroy) your record. Generally, expunged convictions will not be included in a criminal record.
In the United States, criminal records follow people for life. Unfortunately, the US is the country with the world’s largest incarcerated population. Criminal records can help law enforcement solve crimes, but they can also help employers learn about an applicant’s criminal history and their background.
There is controversy surrounding the use of criminal records in the employment process due to bias, but for the most part, these records serve as a means of protection and proactivity for others.
Any arrest or criminal conviction is placed on a criminal record. Although it may seem like the worst thing imaginable, you don’t have to feel alone if you have one. One in 15 Americans has been arrested. An arrest does not always mean you committed a crime; people have been arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or they may have been arrested but never faced a criminal conviction.
An individual’s criminal record can consist of the following things:
- Arrest Records
- Court Records
- Conviction Records
There is a legal process in which a person can request to have their entire criminal file “closed,” or inaccessible to people outside of high-ranking government officials or law enforcement. If you request to have your criminal record expunged, you must go through a court process that evaluates the extent of your record, the nature of the crimes within it and your legal activity following these crimes, whether you’ve repeated offenses or committed other crimes.
How to obtain criminal records
There are a few different ways to obtain a copy of your criminal record. If you request this from the record-holding office, you may be required to submit your fingerprints. You can also visit your local police department and ask for a copy of your criminal record (or proof that you have no criminal record). Sometimes, a local police record will only have local arrest and conviction records. An officer should be able to tell you what information is included in their records search.
Government agencies, such as law enforcement agencies, can access your criminal record without your consent. If you are charged with a crime, your defense attorney will get a copy of your criminal record and examine it carefully for any errors. Other organizations, such as employers and schools, may need your consent to obtain a copy of your criminal record, but refusing to give consent will almost certainly be considered a red flag. In some states, there are limits on what kind of criminal record information employers can access or request. Beyond employers, the people who can obtain a copy of your criminal record can vary greatly from state to state.
Also, you can easily obtain criminal records online.
Because these records contain sensitive information, individuals who wish to view these records can do so by paying a nominal fee.
Obtaining court records can be a difficult task. Most people believe that this type of record can only be accessed by physically going to a government agency. However, if you go down this route, expect to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops. Using an advanced online database background search service, you can get a court report made available to you in less than five minutes.
Conviction records will show you what, if any, a crime a person was found guilty of. Yes, even conviction records are considered something of public knowledge, and they are more easily accessible thanks to the internet. Because of the Internet, you can find conviction records just about anywhere, if found elsewhere, it may be more difficult to obtain. Sometimes, conviction records are not always submitted to federal databases.
If you want to find out if someone has a criminal record without having to ask any uncomfortable questions –the online services can get the job done for you. Our favorite background search service online is SpyFly.com and they offer a free 7-day trial.
SpyFly provides consumers affordable, immediate access to public record information. Federal laws prohibit businesses from using SpyFly’s service to make decisions about employment, insurance, consumer credit, tenant screening, or for any other purpose subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC 1681 et seq.