Yesterday we explored the first component of a background check, the Social Security Number Trace (SSN Trace). Today we will explore the second step in an effective background check: the Countywide Felony and Misdemeanor search. Sometimes companies are confused as to which type of criminal search is the most accurate and most effective. We will explore many types of criminal searches in this series. There is no question however, that this type of search is the gold standard. While not 100% accurate it offers users the most in-depth type of search available in the United States today. Convictions occur in the courts. The further away you get from the actual data source the more diluted the results become. This is why it is so critical that these searches are conducted by hand, by a trained court researcher.
This search consists of an on-site manual search of the superior, upper, lower, and/or municipal court records, in compliance with legally available research procedures, in each county court jurisdiction nationwide. Our network of professional court researchers covers all 3,500+ county court jurisdictions across the country, and will indicate if a subject has a felony or misdemeanor filing within the last seven years, or longer if the record includes a legally reportable conviction. Completed Reports consist of all available and legally reportable information, typically including date of arrest, date of filing, charges, level of the charges, disposition date and final disposition of the charges and any applicable sentence or penalty.
Some tips about Countywide Felony and Misdemeanor Searches:
· Some counties do not house driving offenses including DWI’s within their criminal court system. These offenses are adjudicated through traffic courts and are not considered criminal records. An MVR check is the best alternative
· Within an individual county, there can be as many as 15-20, or more, smaller town courts, where ordinance violations, minor misdemeanors, and citations are disposed of. Much like the scenario where a county courthouse does not share information electronically with a state capital or the federal government, these town courts may not regularly talk to the larger county court either
· Cases that have been expunged are eliminated from the public record will not be reported by the court
· Some courts do not provide information on cases that did not result in a conviction
· Some offenses, if a probationary period or pre-trial diversion program is successfully completed, are dismissed and considered by the court to have never happened. These cases are not publicly available
· Some courts restrict the amount of years they make information publicly available, and anything outside this scope requires dates of offense and case numbers
· Some courts make older case information available, but charge an exorbitant hourly fee for a court employee to do the research
Please continue to be confident that in almost every part of the country, the information you seek to make a hiring decision in confidence can and will be found by our criminal records researchers.
See Map Below of all 3500+ U.S. Counties: