How to Run a Criminal Record Search

Criminal Record Search Methods Defined

The need for more detailed information is something that almost anyone can relate to, regardless of his or her occupation or industry. Hirers need access to background information about potential employees; parents need criminal record information about sex offenders and other criminals that might come into contact with their children. Even schools and government offices find they need to access criminal record databases for their needs. However, accessing criminal record sources can be difficult, particularly if you have never had to accomplish this particular feat before. How can you gain access? Here, you will learn a few of the methods in which you can garner the information you require, as well as what each method entails.

Your Local Courthouse

Your first instinct might be to turn to your local courthouse in order to gain access to criminal record information. This is quite natural; after all, these repositories do contain a vast amount of information within their archives. However, there are several problems with this method.

Fuel: The first problem with accessing criminal record information at your courthouse is the fact that you will use fuel driving to and from the courthouse. In this day of ever-changing gasoline prices, it is important to avoid needless expenditures of fuel.

Time: The second problem with accessing criminal record information in this location is the fact that it takes an inordinate amount of time to do so. In many instances, you will be forced to dig through stacks of records, drawers of files and sort through microfilm records to find the information that you need. Obviously, if you need the information quickly, this is a poor solution. Of course, you can pay the county clerk to locate the information for you, but that brings us to yet another problem.

Cost: While criminal record information is deemed public record, you will find that you always have to pay to access it. The only question is how much. When you use your local courthouse, you will find numerous charges – you will have to pay for copies, for the clerk's research time and sometimes just for access to the archives.

Limited Scope: The most important consideration when accessing criminal record information here is that all records will be limited in scope. These records will only be concerned with crimes committed within that specific county and will contain no information about crimes committed in other areas.
Therefore, your local courthouse should not be considered as an option in your quest for better information.

Your State Courthouse

State records are much more comprehensive than are those found at your local courthouse. However, there are drawbacks here, as well. You will find many of the same issues plaguing you with state records as you do with local records, including the fuel costs, the time expenditure and the problem with scope. In addition, many of these costs will increase, due to the greater distance that you will have to travel.

While state criminal record archives will contain information drawn from throughout the counties within the state, they will not contain any information about crimes committed in other states. As our modern society has become increasingly mobile, it is highly likely that you will miss important information here.

Federal Record Aggregates

You will find that federal criminal record sources comprise powerful tools in your drive to gain better information about a person. However, accessing national records can be difficult. You can make use of some federal courthouses, but these will not hold all the records that you need, obviously. Where then can you turn?

Online Criminal Record Sources

Perhaps the single best solution for your criminal record needs can be found online. Here, you will find a wide range of different information aggregates that provide you with access to criminal records, background information, education and employment information and much more. However, care should be exercised here, just as elsewhere. What should you know about choosing criminal record providers online? You will have to ensure that you choose the best option for your needs. In order to do this, you must first know what constitutes a good choice.

Number of Records
: Any criminal record aggregate should provide you with access to a tremendous number of records. However, some online companies claim to access records in the billions, within a few seconds. This claim can be written off as pure hype – it is impossible to search through billions of records in a split second, with any type of accuracy, much less the demanding accuracy that you require.

Cost: Of course, accessing online criminal record databases comes at a cost. However, you will find that some companies charge far more than do others. You will need to balance the cost versus the number of records searched, still bearing in mind the fact that some of those numbers could be inflated for marketing purposes. Therefore, you should locate a company that offers access to a large number of records, with decent prices. The most expensive and the cheapest options are usually not within this range.

Reputation: Finally, the most important factor to base your decision of criminal record aggregate on should be the company's reputation. What is their record of accomplishment? Do they have any ongoing community-oriented initiatives that give back to consumers? Do they provide a reciprocal relationship or are they simply parasites, taking your money but never giving back to the community at large? These questions must be answered before you can arrive at a satisfactory decision.

You will find that choosing a company for your criminal record needs can be a lengthy process. It is highly advised that you take the time required to do so, though. Online access can grant you immediate information about the person you are investigating, which will dramatically speed up your process, whether you are hiring or simply ensuring that your children are safe while at the neighbor's house.