While we work with each client to identify the risks associated with introducing new people into their workplace, we recommend that the best and most thorough criminal background check include the following components:
Multi-Jurisdictional Criminal Records Database Review – Sometimes referred to as a “national” or “nationwide” criminal history search, this database contains millions of records from counties and states across the country, sex-offender registrations from all fifty states, the Office of Foreign Asset Control’s (OFAC) list of identified terrorists and other international criminals (often referred to as the Patriot Act search) and other sources.
Some states make only limited information available for inclusion in this database. Our experience is that this database will yield about 50% of the records we would otherwise find by conducting our thorough county-level criminal records searches. However the database is useful because it identifies potential records in counties where research otherwise might not have been conducted.
In order to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s requirement that we ensure maximum possible accuracy, any records found in the database will be verified with the originating county prior to being reported to our client.
County-level Criminal Records Searches – The best source for criminal records are the actual criminal case indices of the local court clerks in the jurisdictions where an individual has lived, worked, or attended school. 98% of the records we report to our clients originate at the county level. (The remaining records come from the federal district courts.)
If no limits are placed on the number of searches conducted, we will conduct misdemeanor and felony research in the county-wide indices in each county associated with the applicant’s last ten years’ address history under all names strongly associated with the individual. Each search will cover a minimum of ten years of criminal records in that jurisdiction – most will cover much longer periods.
State-level Criminal Records Searches – We’ll search the available criminal records databases, prison records, and sex offender registries in each state associated with the applicant’s address history, using all names strongly associated with the applicant. Any records found in the state’s records will be verified with the originating county prior to being reported to our client.
Federal District Criminal Records Searches – While federal court records account for only 2% of the criminal records we report to our clients, they are always items of interest to our clients. Federal court cases include bank robbery, insurance fraud, interstate drug and gun crimes, and kidnapping.
If no limits are placed on the number of searches conducted, we will conduct research in in each federal district associated with the applicant’s last ten years’ address history under all names strongly associated with the individual.
Criminal Case Copy Retrieval – It is often desirable to retrieve copies of documents from court files to better understand the conduct the individual was alleged to have been engaged, the details of any plea agreements, probation terms, probation compliance or violations, or to develop additional information about the parties to the case.
International Criminal Information
Where not prohibited by local law or custom, Imperative can assist with your international due diligence projects.
It is important for US-based employers to understand that no other nation has the same liberal concept of “open records” that we understand in the United States.
In some countries, most or all court information is closed to the public. In others, the information available is limited or unreliable due to lax court or police record-keeping practices or even corruption. Finally, while in the US, courts’ jurisdictions are orderly and typically span wide and understandable geographic regions, many other nations’ courts are based in municipalities or neighborhoods and it may be costly or logistically impractical to search a wider geographic region. In all cases, a records search resulting in “no records found” should not be assumed to mean that the party searched has no relevant records.
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