Why is a State Criminal Record Check Important in Background Screening?

With many different levels of background checks available, choosing the right one for your needs is important. What makes a state criminal record check a key part of the process? See what you need to know about this state-specific resource.

Choosing the appropriate criminal background check to empower your hiring process can be more difficult than you might expect at first. There are many different terms to understand, not to mention the importance of ensuring you follow all the relevant laws and regulations surrounding background checks. Interpreting the results of a report you order may pose its own challenge, too.

One of the issues inherent in the background check process is the lack of a single, centralized database of criminal records from jurisdictions nationwide. There is no single publicly accessible system for such records. At the federal level, some criminal registers are maintained by organizations like the FBI, but employers typically can't access those systems.

Although there is no official nationwide system for public criminal records, individual states often do maintain their own centralized databases of crimes and convictions from within their borders. Many states make these records available to background screening providers. Some only allow for screening through a government agency, while others may not allow public access at all. Determining the availability of state-level background checks for your business is an integral part of the screening process.

Understanding State Background Checks

Each state handles data reported from its counties somewhat differently. Some update their databases as frequently as possible, while others do so infrequently—sometimes as seldom as merely two or four times per year. The presence of a state criminal record typically indicates that a county has reported data to the state about the cases it handled. Sometimes, a state criminal record corresponds to charges brought against an individual at the state level.

In either case, the presence of such records may indicate that an employer should take a closer look. Due to the reporting delays that may sometimes occur with multi-jurisdictional background checks, looking at a state criminal record check is an easy way to quickly see more information reported by all the individual counties within that state.

Searching only for records within the county where an applicant lives might mean missing out on records you could find in other counties within the state. Checking each county individually is a tedious and time-consuming process, too. A state-level check that gives you an overview of every county's records is integral to a thorough background process. It saves time and can provide a more comprehensive view of an individual's interactions with the criminal justice system anywhere in the state—not just where they live now.

A state check can be most effective when you also drill down to a specific county for detailed records. As with multi-jurisdictional checks, state-level databases may update infrequently or irregularly. Searching local court records can provide critical facts for decision-making when an applicant has an open case on their background report.

Using Criminal History Check Solutions Effectively

Choosing the right search product for your company's needs means defining the proper scope for your search. Do you need a nationwide search, or will you be best served by ordering a state-level check? It's easy to see that state-level checks are a vital part of the overall process, offering ways to save time and gain key insights. 

No matter your specific needs, we make it easy to find the right tools for quickly gathering and assessing criminal record data. Explore more information about the different aspects of background screening in our learning center, find the right products with our interactive guide, or let us know if you need additional help today.

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