Criminal Records Database Search

Criminal Records Database Search
Learn how to find criminal records online.

What is a Criminal Record?

A criminal record is an official account of a person’s criminal history. A criminal records database search is most often used by potential employers, lenders, etc. to assess the worthiness of an applicant. The information included in a criminal records database search record varies between countries and even between jurisdictions within a country.

In most cases, a criminal record lists the non-expunged criminal offenses and may also include traffic offenses such as speeding and drunk-driving. In some countries, crime reports are limited to actual convictions (where the individual plead guilty or has been proven guilty in a court of law). Still, in other countries, the criminal record includes arrests, charges dismissed, charges pending, and even charges of which the subject has been acquitted.

In the United States, the detailed records are compiled and updated on local, state, and federal levels by various law enforcement agencies. The primary goal of a criminal record is to present a comprehensive criminal history.  The reports may be used for many purposes, including identification, employment, security clearance, immigration, background checking, assistance in developing suspects in an ongoing criminal investigation, and for enhanced sentencing in criminal prosecutions.

In the United States, these compilations are unlikely to be admissible in court as proof of arrest or conviction.

Criminal histories are maintained by law enforcement agencies in all levels of government. Local police departments, sheriffs’ offices, and specialty police agencies may maintain their own internal databases. On the state level, state police, troopers, highway patrol, correctional agencies, and other law enforcement agencies also maintain separate databases. Law enforcement agencies often share this information with other similar enforcement agencies and this information is usually made available to the public.

Registered sex offenders have information about their crimes or misdemeanors readily available, and the Department of Correctional Services in many states disseminate information to the public, through media such as the Internet.  Usually, the only group in society that is not subject to the dissemination of recorded history is juveniles.  Some adults can also be eligible for non-disclosure of their records through the process of Record sealing or expungement.

Statewide Repositories

Some states have official “statewide repositories” that contain criminal history information contributed by the various county and municipal courts within the state. These state repositories are usually accurate so long as the state requires and supervises the uploading of data from the local courts. Some states make reporting to the repository voluntary. The information obtained from these repositories can be incomplete and the use of this information has associated risks.

The federal government maintains extensive criminal histories and acts as a central repository for all agencies to report their own data.  The National Crime Information Center – NCIC is one such database. Generally, and with very few exceptions, the records compiled by the federal government are not made available to the private sector. Some private re-sellers claim to offer an NCIC record search. In most cases these claims are fraudulent. Though NCIC records may not be available to private sector companies, they still may hold very accurate criminal records bought from other reporting agencies.

Criminal Records Resources

The following are resources for searching criminal records, doing criminal background checks, and obtaining criminal histories.  See also – Background Checks.

Instant access to state and nationwide criminal records.  The search report includes:

  • The official case number and charge
  • Criminal offense, arrest
  • Criminal file
  • Disposition date
  • Disposition & sentence

The results are available online in seconds if the date of birth (DOB) provided and not in California or Wisconsin. Otherwise, results are available within 24 hours.

Searching for Criminal Records, Data and Information On the Web

A background search is perhaps the most widely used tool for finding out information about people. These records are mainly accessed by law enforcement agencies and employers that require an employment check. While you can now easily find criminal records online, old fashioned P.I. skills typically come into play to make the search more efficient.

BeenVerified’s Background Check Report allows you to search for criminal records, bankruptcies, contact information and more. Go to BeenVerified. Also, try an Intelius for people search reports, background checks, criminal records, court records, real estate, and financial reports.

Criminal Records Searches: Fact and Fiction

Many websites you stumble upon advertise access they have to a nationwide database. Although their system may be vast in records, there is only one nationwide criminal database, the FBI. The database is known as the National Crime Information Center. These records are not for the public’s eyes and are only available to law enforcement.

Gaining access to this data is strictly prohibited with severe penalties. This adheres to the party selling the records and also the party buying them. Even with that fact, a profitable black market exists with many people hosting this exclusive information.

These individuals usually have close ties to other members of the NCIC who choose to profit from the relationship.

State and County Criminal Records

In the past, individuals were required to be interjected into the judicial process to search for criminal records. This meant that an inquiring party had to be a member of the law or a court official.

The ability to search statewide criminal records online is available in many states. The public typically accesses criminal records via the state index. The county index is also available. The state receives a portion of its index from the county. Without the county records, a state index may be incomplete. The best method would be to check both indexes of the state and county when looking to access criminal records.

If you have any questions about how to run a Criminal Records Database Search, please leave a comment below.

Disclosure: As an associate with Amazon and BeenVerified, we earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click on a link and purchase the product or service, we receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. This helps offset some of the costs of running our site. Thanks for your support.
Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at


  1. Hi. Is there a list of which states have a online search data base for a criminal records search? Finding hard to locate in some states such a data base. Thank you.


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