Doing a Criminal Records Search in the United States
There is nothing more important than being able to check the background of people with whom you come in close contact every day. For example, it is imperative to make sure the babysitter of your child is not, God forbids a former sex offender.
U.S. law-makers have taken this into account and passed the Freedom of Information Act, which is a set of laws obligating the government to reveal the records in its possession to the public upon demand.
Each state has its own version of FOIA Laws and some states are considered more willing than others to put their archives at the disposal of the public.
For example, it is very easy to track a person’s history of arrests and convictions in North Carolina. All you have to do is go to your county’s Clerk of Court and demand access to criminal court dockets.
Moreover, in some NC counties, the information is presented online free of charge. For example, to track an individual’s criminal background in Mecklenburg County, visit the website of the sheriff. There you will find an electronic arrest search tool and an inmate locator.
On the other hand, there are states which are more parsimonious when it comes to disclosing criminal background information. In California, for instance, you can get access to your records only. Other’s records are sealed (unless you are a law enforcement agent).
It all depends on the state in which you live. In Texas, you will not have a problem tracking any person’s incarceration and prosecution history. There are statewide databases open to everyone (you will have to pay a fee, but apart from that, the information is fully available).
In Virginia, on the contrary, there are some limitations regarding the information you will be able to access if you are not a policeman.