Once upon a time, gaining access to state records was challenging. The historically primitive research methods took you through a grueling process through bureaucratic red tape. Requesters were required to contact state officials in advance. From there, a custodian would be appointed to handle the request. While calling ahead was always more time efficient, the overall process was normally a lengthy one.
With paperwork, a registered citizen had to request to simply view records or obtain a copy. When approved, you would receive a huge stack of documents, including all the driving and criminal records you did not need. From there, state custodians would have to help you determine which agency held the piecemeal records.
Thankfully, accessing state records these days is a much easier task. States have made their procedures more streamlined, largely due to the increased demand of background checks; most employers require employee checks in order to carefully screen probable candidates for the job. They search criminal records for prior felonies and patterns of behavioral crimes. Many companies pay a great amount of money to researching agencies that can access criminal records. These researchers also have other methods of finding criminal information, which makes their services very valuable.
Accessing National and State Records
Accessible criminal records can divided into four categories. These public records include arrest and court records, correction records, and repository records. Though an arrest record may eventually lead to a felony conviction, it can be accessed through the sentencing. Anything exceeding that may result in penalty of the search.
A very small number of databases hold complete background information on a nationwide scale, and most of them are not publicly accessible. As is stands now, the FBI holds rank as the only entity capable of legally containing these criminal records. The public can access some parts of the FBI database, but mostly the records for the high profiled criminals, including information on convictions and high-risk felons.
However, the public can access state public records, which are a very useful tool for the individual and employer. Although these public records are limited, they can still provide illuminating information for a potential employer. However, the limited scope may be a drawback for a company looking to pry deep within the criminal records of a prospective employee.
The procedures to access state records vary between each state. Some states have an online system that provides you with almost instantaneous access to state records, while others have paperwork that you must complete and mail.
By accessing state records, a person can obtain the following information, depending upon each state government:
- Criminal history records
- Pending court charges
- Pending arrests
- Conviction information
- Sex offender registries
- Inmate searches
- Child abuser registries
Most states have free access to sexual offender databases. It is shocking to learn how many sex offenders live in each city, in every state throughout our country. These sex offenders look like “normal” people, casually strolling through the neighborhood and grocery story. With the increased access children have to the internet, combined with the rise in sex offender rates, accessing state records can help parents protect their children and neighborhood.
Having the ability to access state records is very important in today’s society. Whether it is finding the right candidate for the job or combing your neighborhood for predators, this is a method of safety that should certainly be routinely performed.