How to Check My Criminal Record

By Michael Klazema on 10/23/2013

With more and more companies running criminal record checks on job applicants before making a hire and using tools like our US OneSEARCH product , it’s wise to check your criminal record before embarking on a job search. That way, you’ll know what a potential employer will discover when they check you out. If you’ve ever asked yourself “how do I check my criminal record?” these resources will help.

Tools for Checking Criminal Records

You basically have two main options for checking a criminal record: paid background check products and manual research. The advantage of using an online criminal database search product is that you may find records from thousands of jurisdictions fast and with a single search. But you may not want to pay for this service. If you have the time and the inclination, you might save money by looking up your records at your local state or county courthouse. You can use the National Center for State Courts website as a starting point to find out how to access records in your locality. But you will unlikely be able to search for records in other jurisdictions, unless you plan to travel to all of them.

I Remember All My Convictions. Why Should I Check My Criminal Record?

You may know the details of all your criminal convictions, but have you seen the actual court records? By searching for your criminal record at a background check company, you can see what an employer might be presented about you. You may find that the text in the records makes your crime seem more severe than it was, or leaves out important information about extenuating circumstances. By knowing about this before a potential employer brings it to your attention, you’ll be better equipped to elaborate about the context of the crime and explain any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in the records.

What If I Have Never Been Arrested? Do I Need to Check My Criminal Record?

Yes! Even if you have never been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime, you can still benefit from checking criminal record for those that match your name. After all, it is not impossible for another person to have the same name and date of birth. You would definitely not want a record—such as a conviction that belongs to another person showing up on your criminal history—interfering with your ability to get a new job. If you learn of criminal records that show up on a background check for your name and date of birth, you can then take steps to have them corrected so future employers are not wrongly prejudiced against you when they run pre-employment background checks.

Checking For Expunged Records

Another reason you may want to ask yourself “how do I check my criminal record?” is that you want to make sure that any sealed or expunged records really are excluded from the background check report. For example, you may have completed an expungement request to remove a certain eligible records from your history. Once records have been expunged, you can honestly answer “no” when asked if you have been convicted of those crimes. But courts do not typically notify background screening companies and the databases they use of these expungements. By double checking that the records really have been removed from private criminal databases, you can avoid appearing to be caught in a lie when not mentioning them on a job application.

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