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What Is a Criminal Record Search?

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What Is a Criminal Record Search?

A criminal record search is where a person researches another person’s history of criminal violations and convictions. These are usually maintained through local or country record-keeping departments. Whenever a person is convicted of a crime, the court places information regarding their case in the official records.

Such information is generally considered public record, meaning anyone can search them. The records might include information such as the nature of the charges, the date, location, and time period of the crime, docket numbers, and sentencing information.

When Are Criminal Record Searches Performed?

Criminal record searches may be performed for various reasons. Some common reasons why someone might conduct a criminal record search on someone may include:

  • Employment background checks: Employers often research a person’s criminal background before they hire them, especially for jobs involving security.
  • Criminal cases: Judges and juries will have access to the person’s criminal records during a subsequent trial or criminal hearing. Prior criminal records may often lead to increased sentencing.
  • Immigration: Immigration rights may be negatively affected by a criminal record (i.e., visa applications, naturalization rights, etc.).
  • Business purposes: Some business ventures may require a background check.
  • Personal information: Some people may wish to research the criminal background of someone they know.

Note: There are several procedures and guidelines that need to be followed when imposing a criminal background check on someone, especially in an employment setting. Illegal criminal background checks can lead to legal consequences.

How Can I Get a Criminal Record Cleared?

In some cases, it may be possible to get a criminal record sealed or cleared. This must be specifically requested by the person, as criminal records are usually not automatically sealed. There may be many requirements for this process, such as the person having no subsequent criminal charges, and also a completion of the sentence(s) for past crimes. A waiting period of several years after the last conviction may also be required.

Getting a felony conviction cleared is often more difficult than getting a misdemeanor charge cleared.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Criminal Record Issues?

Criminal records are an important part of the criminal justice system. You may need to hire a qualified criminal law attorney if you have any legal questions or inquiries regarding a criminal record. Your attorney can help you with various tasks such as searching records, reviewing documents, and filling out forms. Also, if you need to appear in court, your lawyer can represent you during the legal process as well.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 06-15-2015 02:06 PM PDT

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