Criminal Records

The criminal record is a document of any criminal history of an individual that is updated and maintained as federal, state and local levels. The criminal records contain details of crimes that an individual has been convicted for.

These records are generally used to perform background checks by employers and others. Criminal records may be checked by the following:

Who needs to check criminal records?

  • Pre-employment checks particularly in high security government agencies, medical professionals and financial institutions
  • School or college admissions particularly in law and medicine
  • Renting of property or sale of new homes
  • Military employment
  • Firearms sale
  • Security clearance for visa, passport and other reasons
  • Fostering or adopting children
  • Licenses and certifications
  • Registration for voter identification
  • Naturalization, immigration, international travel
  • Criminal investigation
  • Insurance
  • Loan providers

Although the criminal records details can vary from region to region and among different countries, most criminal records include criminal offenses that have not been expunged, along with traffic offense. In some countries details of crimes for which the individual has been convicted only are included, while in others, dismissed charges, arrests and acquittal details are also included.

Law enforcement agencies at the local, state and national level maintain the criminal records. Separate databases are maintained by speciality police agencies, sheriff’s offices, and other law enforcement departments. The federal government maintains extensive databases such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

Some criminal records are on the public domain but some are not. While in some states it is possible to do a background check on an individual, it is not possible to check the criminal record. Criminal records provide more thorough details that may or may not be available in background checks. Apart from addresses, marital status, driving offenses that are provided in background checks, criminal records give additional details such as convictions, penalties, arrests.

Sealing a criminal record

In certain instances, it is possible to seal or expunge a criminal record. An individual needs to file a petition to get the criminal record sealed. For cases where there has been no conviction, the individuals can file a petition along with documents that support the petition. These can include details on

  • Disadvantages and impact of the availability of criminal record
  • Proof of how the individual can recover or progress if the criminal record is sealed
  • Support in any other form that indicates how sealing of criminal record can help remove the disadvantages
  • Time lapse since the completion of the case hearing or arrest
  • Reasons for the particular disposition

Criminal Record Search