What Is a Nationwide Criminal Database Search?

By Michael Klazema on 7/17/2019

Among employers and the public, there is some confusion about what a nationwide criminal database search is. Some believe that this type of criminal background check is a comprehensive search of all criminal records in the United States. As such, many employers think that tapping into a single national criminal database search will be sufficient to vet any job candidate. The truth is more complicated and demands more planning from employers (and others running background checks) to structure an ideal criminal history screening policy.

The first thing that is important to understand is that there is no such thing as a “comprehensive” criminal history database. Criminal records are filed at different levels from county courthouses to state departments of corrections to records held at the federal level. Different background checks focus on different levels. For instance, a county criminal history search checks the criminal records at a particular county courthouse and a federal criminal background check searches specific United States District Court indices.

A national criminal history database is a compilation of information from many different sources. It can include criminal records from both county courts and US District Court indices plus state departments of corrections, state sex offender registries, national security lists, and other records. By compiling this information in one place, criminal history databases allow employers and other entities to review a broader selection of criminal history information than the info provided by a single county criminal search.

Still, the word “nationwide” creates some confusion with this type of database. Some employers assume that a nationwide database will contain all the criminal history information on record for the entire country. No such database exists. Even the FBI national criminal database—known as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)—is not truly comprehensive. Because new criminal records are filed every day at the county, state, and federal levels,  not directly into any one nationwide database, it is impossible for one database to reflect the full scope of criminal records in the United States.

For this reason, at, we prefer the term “multijurisdictional criminal database” to “nationwide criminal database.” We believe this term more accurately describes the appeal of a database search—it covers a broad array of jurisdictions in which criminal records are filed.

The multijurisdictional criminal database search is called US OneSEARCH. This service involves an instant criminal background check of our entire proprietary database, which spans 650 million criminal records from throughout the United States. We pull our data from county courthouses, departments of corrections, administrative offices of the courts, national and international terrorism sources, and sex offender registries for all 50 states (plus Washington DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico). This search is a terrific place to start your pre-employment screening policy thanks to its reach.

Do you need help putting together the ideal criminal background check for your business? Contact today.

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • August 15 Background checks aren't a silver bullet that solves every concern about prospective new hires—they are a tool that must be used with care. How can an incorrect approach lead to inadequate vetting? 
  • August 13 How has legislation and regulation changed the way employers use criminal background checks? We look at some of the rules that modern companies must follow.
  • August 08 With many industries facing labor shortages, advocates and legislatures are reconsidering policies that exclude potential employees. Expansion of record expungement and "ban the box" rules could change the system. 
  • August 06 Continuous background screening or ongoing criminal monitoring is the best way to keep track of critical new developments on an employee’s criminal record. Learn how these background checks work. 
  • August 01

    A new lawsuit filed in New York alleges that department store chain Macy’s ignored federal hiring guidelines and laws, firing individuals for old and non-job-related criminal convictions. 


  • July 30 The Minneapolis City Council is considering a series of ordinances that would regulate the use of tenant background checks and security deposits. The city’s tight housing market has made it difficult for individuals with bad credit, eviction histories, or criminal records to find housing.
  • July 25 Following revelations about wrongdoing in USA Gymnastics at the hands of team doctor Larry Nasser, sports organizations must grapple with how to safeguard their members. Some have found more success than others. 
  • July 24 What do landlords want to know before accepting new tenants? Here are the basics included in the average tenant background check.
  • July 23 7-Eleven will pay nearly $2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit concerning its background check process. The lawsuit alleges that the convenience store chain violated the FCRA with its background check disclosure document.
  • July 22 Social and child service organization rely on background checks to vet employees, sponsors, drivers, and other staff members and volunteers. By helping to root out histories of violence, sexual abuse, and other red flags, our resources assist these organizations in keeping the people they serve safe.