The idea of a search in all criminal court records for an entire state is certainly appealing. And it’s theoretically possible, since most states have some kind of central repository for criminal records. These are usually maintained by the state police or the state bureau of investigation. In an ideal world, local law enforcement or the clerks of the courts would forward all pertinent records to the central repository.
This should result in a complete statewide database of criminal records. But like a lot of good ideas, the reality is far different than the truth. Law enforcement and court researchers know a great deal of information never gets into the statewide repositories.
Several issues contribute to this problem. People entering data at the county or district court level make mistakes. Paperwork gets lost or misplaced. Garbled, incomplete or failed data uploads to the repositories also figure in. Many district and county court clerical staffs are overworked, so updating the repositories becomes a lesser priority.
At KIS Backgrounds, we don’t rely on “statewide” criminal searches. While they might spare some relevant information, they are not as complete nor accurate as a search of county or district court records. Also, a few states, like California, do not consider their central repository to be public records, so they are available only to law enforcement and selling that data is illegal.
At KIS Backgrounds, we search the records at the county or district courts for the most complete and accurate records. This way takes more time and care, but it gives our clients to the most accurate results possible.
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Uniform Law Commission. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Committee report on Criminal Records Accuracy. August, 2018 www.uniformlaws.org.
Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Report on the Justice Records Improvement Program (NCHIP) December, 2008 www.ojp.usdoj.gov.
United States Department of Justice. Office of Public Affairs. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions Directs FBI and ATF to Conduct a Comprehensive Review of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-directs-fbi-and-atf-conduct-comprehensive-review-national