Everything there is to Know about the National Criminal Search
The National Criminal Search identifies possible adverse findings or criminal records throughout various jurisdictions in the United States. It is an ideal way to uncover information from multiple jurisdictions because everything from traffic and moving violations to serious criminal offenses are recorded. The National Criminal Search is a vital tool to quickly discover where a person may have a possible criminal record.
The key benefits of a National Criminal Search include:
- Speedy Response Time – The National Criminal Search is returned within 24 – 48 hours or less. This is faster than traditional background investigation searches which can take several days depending on the jurisdiction.
- Covers a Vast Area – Searching an applicant’s place of residence and work location is important but often, crimes may occur outside of the area where the applicant lives or works. The National Criminal Search can alert you of other possible areas where crimes may have occurred.
- Cost-Effective – The National Criminal Search does not require statutory or out-of-pocket fees because it is a proprietary search. One flat rate covers the entire cost of a National Criminal Search. If the criminal search required is national in scope, the National Criminal Search is an affordable search method.
- Other Records May be Found – Since the National Criminal Search is a propriety search, it may contain records from a number of agencies including court searches. Therefore, it is quite possible that various levels, from traffic violations to lesser crimes, may be found – based upon the area(s) being searched and what is gathered in the National Criminal Search database. Keep in mind, however, that any possible records found must be vetted properly in accordance with the FCRA.
- National Coverage – Really? Be cautious as to the definition of the National Criminal Search. While it is termed a “national search” the actual coverage area and scope of the search does not cover every jurisdiction in the United States. As a matter of fact, it does not even come close! It is important to note that based upon our court system and accessibility of records, there is no true national search.
- How Comprehensive is the National Criminal Search? Most databases are just that – repositories of information that are not up-to-date, current and comprehensive! The reason is that there is often spotty court participation or repositories/agencies do not provide ALL of their records to proprietary type databases such as the National Criminal Search. In many cases, states (such as New York) will only provide incarceration records. Therefore, you may be missing several thousand potential records of convicted individuals who may NOT have served any time in jail. In addition, if a record is found, you must question the validity of the information because it is possible that it does not pertain to your subject, or worse than that, is completely inaccurate. All possible records found must be verified by contacting the individual court(s) to ensure accuracy and completeness.
- Is the Information Current in a National Criminal Search? The National Criminal Search is only as current as the last time a repository or court system updated its information to the system. It is not unreasonable to think that some records are stale, inaccurate or missing if the specific state or county has not uploaded its active records in a while. In addition, be aware that there is often a significant lag time between the time the court system processes a case and the time it is reported to the National Criminal Search repository.
- Legal Compliance: How will you use the information found in a National Criminal Search? Are you complying with appropriate State and Federal Laws – specifically the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), section 613? *FCRA compliance – The use of a database for pre-employment screening, such as the National Criminal Search, results in concerns over compliance with the FCRA. To learn more about the FCRA and its impact, visit http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-credit-reporting-act. Specific Language of FCRA Section 613: Section 613 of the FCRA states: (a) In general. A consumer reporting agency which furnishes a consumer report for employment purposes and which for that purpose compiles and reports items of information on consumers which are matters of public record and are likely to have an adverse effect upon a consumer’s ability to obtain employment shall (1) at the time such public record information is reported to the user of such consumer report, notify the consumer of the fact that public record information is being reported by the consumer reporting agency, together with the name and address of the person to whom such information is being reported; or (2) maintain strict procedures designed to insure that whenever public record information which is likely to have an adverse effect on a consumer’s ability to obtain employment is reported it is complete and up to date. For purposes of this paragraph, items of public record relating to arrests, indictments, convictions, suits, tax liens, and outstanding judgments shall be considered up to date if the current public record status of the item at the time of the report is reported. It should be noted that there is an exemption for national security investigations, in that this does not apply in the case of an agency or department of the US Government that seeks to obtain and use a consumer report for employment purposes, if the head of the agency or department makes a written finding as prescribed under section 604 (b)(4)(A).
There is no mandatory state agency participation required for the National Criminal Search. This search can negatively affect the results of the background investigation and skew the findings. The National Criminal Search is a great investigative tool to assist with understanding the applicant’s criminal information in different jurisdictions outside of their current residence. It is recommended to couple the National Criminal Search with a Statewide Criminal Conviction Search to develop a comprehensive criminal background investigation. Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, Inc. does not simply run an instant search and report the results. We conduct careful due-diligence to ensure that all legal requirements are met. A search of a proprietary database should not be a replacement for, nor can it meet the same level of accuracy as a search of actual court records. It is important to note that searching only in actual courts or a particular state repository limits the scope of the search to a narrow geographic area, can take longer, and may involve a higher cost.
Other Important Facts:
Individuals and companies are advised by search firms to conduct a National Criminal Record Search on applicants for prices ranging from $20.00 to over $120.00. Hiring managers sometimes add this search to a background investigation as it serves as an additional tool and resource to identify possible adverse records. Be sure, however, that you have all of the facts in advance including what the search entails and completeness of the record before using the information or spending the money! The National Criminal Search is a database that gathers information from a number of sources throughout the United States. Typically the information comes from a multitude of sources including arrest records (which are not legal to use in a hiring decision), court records, and some law enforcement public records. It is important to remember that the information contained in such a database is not current, and is only as current as the last time the database was updated. Often times this information can be at least 4-6 months old if not more!
In summary, there are pros and cons to conducting a National Criminal Search. However, when combined with other level searches, it is a powerful tool to use in your background investigation arsenal. To learn more about this or other services that Alliance offers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.