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In due diligence research, a criminal records search is a standard part of the process. In this highly digitized age, performing any type of search should be much easier now that we have the right technology to do it. However, no matter how much information is stored in the Internet, nothing beats the manual process of retrieving public records. Often, old-fashioned “gum shoe” techniques are required and researchers find that more often than not, they must rely on less technological means to a do a criminal records search.
Criminal records searches would be much easier to accomplish if there was one single database containing all public records from all state databases. But the problem is that there is none. No one single, “nationwide” database of criminal records exists today. In fact, the closest we can ever get to a nationwide database is not even considered as “public.” The FBI database, called the National Criminal Information Center or NCIC, contain records that are classified or confidential and no one, save for those from the criminal justice agencies, can legally access any of the files contained within the database.
Thus, the only other option that a public records research has is to target local databases. Many states keep databases of criminal records search information. Out of 50 U.S. states, 29 have state central repositories of criminal records search data. State databases are good places to start a criminal records search but they shouldn’t be the only source you have. This is because state databases mostly deal with criminal records search information about convictions. Minor misdemeanors are not usually included in central repositories as states do not require their law enforcement agencies to create fingerprint reports of such cases. State central repositories only contain criminal records search information of crimes of a serious nature, such as felonies, class A misdemeanors, and even class B misdemeanors. Also, most states do not allow public access to juvenile records thus in your criminal records search, you may not be able to obtain any juvenile information about your subject.
Perhaps the best sources of criminal records search information are county databases. Counties usually keep indexes of almost every pertinent data concerning the public. Thus, you can find anything from governor billets, ordinances, county court cases, court decisions, arrests, warrants issued, profiles of most wanted individuals, sex offenders, and more. You can even perform a criminal records search using the directory of county inmates and view pictures of criminals that have been released from prison or are presently serving sentence.
The best way to verify if a criminal action has been initiated by someone is to perform a criminal records search through court records. However, this type of criminal records search may cost some money. There are several district courts in every state and each of these has multiple branches. There are municipal courts which try misdemeanor cases while circuit courts try felony cases. Performing a criminal records search using this method means having to search through the records of every court which you deem may contain information about your subject.
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