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Author Topic: Criminal Record Search Question  (Read 10238 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« on: August 29, 2004, 11:15:25 AM »

Woof All:

Is it possible for a civilian to look up the arrest/conviction records of another individual?  If so, how?  Must it be done State by State, or is there a way of doing it nationally?

TIA,
Crafty Dog
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Tiny
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2004, 11:17:34 AM »

Well, LexisNexis has a database entitled PeopleWise, designed for employers to be able to complete background checks on potential employees.  I'm guessing you could either purchase a subscription, or locat someone who has access.

http://www.lexisnexis.com/peoplewise/

It allegedly covers more than 40 countries (incuding ours, of course) and includes:

    *   Statewide Criminal Searches
    * Wants and Warrants Searches
    * Healthcare Specific Database Searches
    * Financial Services Specific Database Searches
    * Drug Screening Services
    * And more

Pricing info here:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/peoplewise/pricing.asp


That's what I have for now, I'll see what other resources I can dig up.

 smiley
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Tiny
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2004, 11:27:48 AM »

Short answer, apparently "yes."


LexisNexis PeopleWise is available to the public
http://www.lexisnexis.com/peoplewise/features.asp
Criminal Record Searches are available at the county, state, and Federal levels in every jurisdiction in the United States and many international jurisdictions. These searches are an invaluable tool in preventing workplace violence.

Also, LOTS of sites for google search using the phrase "criminal records search" (include quotes) such as:

http://www.checkcriminalbackgrounds.com/

http://www.rapsheets.com/

http://www.usarecordssearch.com/

http://www.criminal-records-search.com/

LexisNexis is probably the best, since it's run by an academic database company specializing in law databases -- I'm guessing it's updated more often and is more comprehensive, but that's just a guess.
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Jeff
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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2004, 06:16:49 PM »

Although yes, the answer actually is "not legally".

In the Federal context, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, (forget the cite off the top of my head) controls people's ability to lawfully obtain credit reports.  To lawfully obtain a credit report (including criminal information) you must obtain the person's consent.  Moreover, the consent must be verbal, and must be within the context of law, (notably for credit and employment reason).

California has an equivalent law called the Investigative Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act Cal. Civ. Code 1786 et seq. that contains similar requirements (that cannot be combined on the same written consent form as the federal consent forms).  

Failure to comply with these laws can result in compensatory damages and the possibility of punitive damages.

Consequently, I wouldn't try to get the information if I were you.
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Tiny
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2004, 05:20:18 PM »

This is not necessarily true, and as with the passage of all laws, has been subject to interpretation.

http://www.hansonbridgett.com/hotdocket/archive/2002/060402.html

Quote
In our opinion, Section 1786.53 does not require consumer notification prior to checking an applicant's references nor disclosure of what was learned from the reference sources. This article concludes that Section 1786.53 was not intended to apply to information obtained by the employer in the course of conducting reference checks and should not be interpreted to impose such a requirement.


And

http://www.mofo.com/news/print.cfm?ID=905

Quote

In March of 2002, we reported on some sweeping changes to ICRAA enacted through Assembly Bill ("AB") 655. After an outcry from California employers, the Legislature passed AB 1068, effective September 28, 2002. As a result, the law has changed again.

Although AB 1068 lightened the burden on employers to some degree and clarified issues that arose after AB 655, the bill did nothing to make this area of the law any less complicated. Because of the sheer number of applicable statutes, background investigation requirements remain one of the most complex and least understood areas of employment law. Although there is significant overlap of state and federal law, the requirements for employers vary depending on the nature of the information requested and the means by which the information is obtained. This Commentary summarizes the recent changes and provides a practical guide to help employers comply with federal and state law...

Most notably, AB 1068 relieves employers of their previous obligation to disclose the results of all internal investigations. AB 1068 also removed a significant burden created by AB 655 that required employers to automatically provide a copy of an investigative consumer report to the employee/applicant. Instead, the employee/applicant must affirmatively request a copy, unless the employer intends to take adverse action, as discussed further below.



As you can see, informing the subject of the investigation was temporarily required, until 2002, though the implications of AB 1068, with regard to Section 1786.53, is a matter of interpretation.  However, I wouldn't use this thread as legal advice.  I would guess that if you used an approved, law database system that's been in place for years, you shouldn't run into a problem:  Independents I would be wary of, which is why I mentioned them last.
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linda
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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2004, 04:43:35 PM »

Crafty,

Actually, you'll probably have to go municipality by municipality.  This can get complicated very quickly as there is no standardized way of obtaining records from all of them.  And what they make available to you might change as well.   Some you can get online, others you have to use mail, I think some even require you to inquire in person.  As far as I know there isn't a federal database for criminal records.  

One other thing you'll want to keep in mind is the different variations on a name (John/Jon Doe) and aliases your person of interest might use as well.  That said, a lot of people in PI work are quite familiar w/ the intricacies of obtaining this type of info.  So it may be more efficient to just shell out a few bucks and have someone else square it away.  And b/c he'd give me hell if I didn't mention it, a guy I train w/ is a PI in N. California - let me know if you want his contact info.  Smiley  

Good luck!
Linda
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2004, 04:23:20 AM »

Woof All:

Just a quick yip to say that I am following this thread with great interest and thank everyone for their participation.

Crafty Dog
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Jeff
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2004, 05:35:15 PM »

Tiny,

While I am very familiar with the changes to the California ICRAA in the employment context, I do not believe that there have been any changes to this law permitting Joe Nobody to see whether his neighbor is a practicing wife batterer.

Specifically, the ICRAA permits a disclosure of consumer credit information only:
 - in response to a court order
 - in accordance with the written instructions of the consumer to which it relates
 - to a person who will use it for employment purposes
 - in connection with a credit transaction
 - insurance underwriting
 - license eligibility
 - the "hiring of a dwelling unit"
 - otherwise has a legitimate business need for the information in connection with a business transaction involving the consumer.  Cal. Civ. Proc. Code s 1785.11.

Accordingly, all credit disclosures approved by the state statute must be related to business.

A similar requirement exists under federal law.  And to my knowledge, neither of these laws permit a private citizen to conduct a criminal records check from a company without meeting those above purposes.

Crafty, are you trying to do this for business purposes or are you just wondering if you can, say, check out your neighbor's criminal history?  

Tiny, unless it is for business purposes (enumerated in 1785.11 or the equivalent federal section), I think Crafty may (legally) be out of luck.

Jeff
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crimresearch
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2004, 10:07:57 PM »

If you are looking for criminal convictions, court proceedings, etc, these are a matter of public record, and are in no way affected by laws regarding credit reporting.

Each state Dept. of Corrections should maintain a database, as do the feds.

If you are looking for arrests/indictments where there was no conviction, then a Lexis/Nexis search, or or such database search can be performed by a PI or attorney.
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"Take away paradox from the thinker, and you have a professor"

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linda
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« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2004, 10:21:40 PM »

Ok, I'm definitely not an expert on any of this, so FWIW...

While there are privacy issues that go w/ both, I believe criminal history and credit info are separate matters and that different criteria are applied for how private the information is/is supposed to be.  And of course different entities/agencies maintain the info.  The credit info privacy stuff is interesting and useful information in general, but Crafty's question seems to be directed specifically to criminal history - arrest records (and I think arrest & conviction info might even be treated differently in some places as well, not too sure about that though). So maybe his question would be answered more efficiently if everyone stuck to the crim history.  Also, I noticed that only CA laws are being referred to.  It's my understanding that different states have different requirements. So, Crafty, do you have specific state(s) in mind?  

But umm, that being said... here are lots of California examples anyway.  

CA Gov. Code Sec. 6254 (California Public Records Act)
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/calawquery?codesection=gov&codebody=6254&hits=20
So yes, there are plenty of limitations (and lazy me, I didn't read all of it).  But for example, if you're a serious deadbeat for child support in LA county, it seems you're fair game - unflattering pic & all:  
http://childsupport.co.la.ca.us/dlparents.htm

Public records for some CA counties:

Santa Clara County:
http://www.scselfservice.org/crim/faq.htm

Los Angeles County:
http://lacounty.info/public_records.htm

LA Sheriff Dept:
http://www.lasd.org/lasd_services/tsd-rib/rib-faq_fees.html

Sacramento County:
http://www.saccourt.com/criminal/records/records.asp

And non-CA:

US DOJ:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crs.htm

Arizona:
http://www.supreme.state.az.us/publicaccess/search.asp

North Dakota:
http://www.ag.state.nd.us/BCI/CHR/CHR.html

Washington:
http://www.wsp.wa.gov/crime/crimhist.htm

Ok, that's it.  I am not looking this up for all 50 states.  Let alone counties.  

Oh, and on a broader level, there's a concept concerning availability of criminal records referred to as "practical obscurity" from a US Sup Ct decision (but it's a little old: 489 US 749, 1989 ).  It doesn't do much as far as answering Crafty's question goes, but it's decent brain food so if people are curious, have at it, maybe in another thread though.

Smiley Linda
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linda
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« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2004, 10:26:47 PM »

LOL!  Ehm, what crimresearch said... far more succinctly!
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2004, 11:33:40 PM »

Woof All:

Linda is right, my question is directed at criminal (both misdemeanor and felony) arrests and convictions, not credit histories.

In our mobile society it would be nice if one could find out the misdemeanors and/or felony arrests and/or convictions nationwide of a particular individual and not have to go through the tedium of searching all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, etc.

I have not had a chance yet to go through the resources so kindly provided already, so please forgive me if this is a question which, in effect, has already been answered:  Are there any particular sources for Virginia and Maryland? Or will I get these two states as part of the search on the previously mentioned sources?

TIA to all,
Crafty
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linda
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« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2004, 03:28:10 PM »

Virginia:
http://www.vsp.state.va.us/cjis_chrc.htm

Maryland:
http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/refserv/html/criminalrecordslist.html\

And b/c of their proximity (as you stated, it's a mobile society)
DC:
http://www.pdsdc.org/Investigations/CriminalRecordChecks.pdf

Pennsylvania:
http://www.psp.state.pa.us/patch/site/default.asp

West Virginia (only the Criminal Justice Directory though - couldn't find anything more specific)
http://www.wvdcjs.com/publications/CJDir03web.pdf

I hope this helps!
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buzwardo
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« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2004, 01:23:00 AM »

Crafty:

You can do something of an end run in Virginia: most General District and Circuit courts have their case files online at:

http://www.courts.state.va.us/caseinfo/home.html

The info is bare bones, and the system fairly kludgie, but it can get you started.

I live in this neck of the woods. If you need help sorting out districts, circuits, etc. feel free to contact me offline.

Buz
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Tiny
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2004, 01:04:27 PM »

Depends on how much you want to spend.  (Link above for) PeopleWise searches criminal records, warrants, etc. for all 50 states and a total of 40 countries.  Not sure what the pricing is or if you can do a per-search fee structure, but it might be worth checking out...again, it depends on how formal you want to be -- PeopleWise is used by employers, employment agencies, independent lawyers, law firms, and law schools.   It might also be legally safer than some of the sites that Google retrieves.  


Just a thought.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2005, 01:44:20 PM »

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Guard Dog
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« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2005, 08:35:33 AM »

The second one seems to be the most cost effective and extensive.  Good find Crafty!

Gruhn
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