Methods of Performing Criminal Records Check

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Criminal records check is one step of the procedure involved in due diligence research conducted on individuals. And even though our age today is referred to as “the digital age”, digitized information may not be enough in performing a comprehensive criminal records check. Often, old-fashioned “gum shoe” techniques are required and researchers find that more often than not, they must rely on less technological means to do a criminal records check.

We have heard about the so-called “nationwide” criminal records check and we have seen many ads on Internet touting services where you could search through their “nationwide” database of criminal records. Well, we hate to burst the bubble, but there is no such thing as a nationwide criminal records check. Only one criminal database in the United States comes pretty close to being considered as “nationwide” and it is the FBI database, which is also known as the NCIC or the National Crime Information Center. Even then, the FBI database is not considered as public record, which further means that no one can legally access the information it contains unless that someone works for criminal justice agencies.

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So, what now? If you cannot access the FBI database, does this mean that there’s no way for you to perform your own criminal records check? On the contrary, there are thousands of separate criminal indexes maintained at the county, parish, township, and city levels throughout the United States. Nationwide criminal records check means accessing each individual index. Now, obviously, this would be difficult to achieve. In addition, it would be time-consuming, expensive, and simply not practical.

Today, 29 states in the United States keep criminal records check repositories which are open to the public. However, from a practical viewpoint, it is better to perform a criminal records check at county level because it may take weeks and sometimes even months for the statewide index to receive information from each county. Also, some criminal data report may not make it to the statewide index, which renders it incomplete. The most thorough approach you can take therefore in your criminal records check is to go through both the statewide index and at the county level in the counties where the subject has lived.

County level criminal records check is the method used in most parts of the country. Some counties maintain an index of both felony and misdemeanor records while others offer criminal records check for each separate one.

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Methods of Performing Criminal Records Check. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from
“Methods of Performing Criminal Records Check.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
Methods of Performing Criminal Records Check. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Apr. 2024].
Methods of Performing Criminal Records Check [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 Apr 18]. Available from:

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