OCA Searches of Statewide Criminal Records in New York State Are Vital…
…Despite the fee increase from $65 to $95 in the New York State Budget
A search of statewide criminal convictions for misdemeanors and felonies is an important factor to include in your pre-hire background investigations. Most states require a statutory fee to conduct this search. In New York State, searches are conducted through the Office of Court Administration (OCA). Some states do not offer this search, including California, New Hampshire, Nevada, Louisiana. West Virginia and Wyoming. After the New York State Budget was signed, the OCA statutory fee increase from $65 to $95 went into effect on April 13, 2019. The money from the fee increase is reportedly used to provide legal services to those in the state who cannot afford representation.
Some companies may feel the statutory fee increase is cost prohibitive and decide not to conduct OCA searches. As an experienced background investigation provider, my company believes in the importance of thorough due diligence. There is currently no effective alternative to the quality and depth of results that this search provides. There are some organizations offering searches that give the appearance of due-diligence, however there is no current up-to-date source that is superior to an OCA search.
10 reasons to continue with NYS OCA statewide criminal searches:
1. Provides information on both misdemeanors and felonies throughout the entire state
2. Comprehensive search that includes the state’s 62 counties and more than 1000 towns and villages (and more added regularly!)
3. This all-inclusive search eliminates the need for conducting individual countywide searches
4. Strict identification requirements for first name, last name and date of birth eliminates background check reporting errors
5. Online access to NYS Courts website provides reliable, up-to-date information
6. NY Statewide criminal background checks can be requested 24 hours a day/7 days a week
7. Searches can also be requested for business entities
8. Criminal History Record Search (CHRS) results are returned in a timely fashion – within 24 hours or less, unless there is an adverse finding
9. Conviction and pending* records related to felony and misdemeanor cases are reported from Town and Village Courts, City and County/Supreme Courts
10. Information not allowed, such as sealed records or non-criminal offenses including violations and infractions do not get reported.
*Under the new law, NY OCA has up to one year to implement a change that will eliminate certain undisposed or pending cases from being reported including criminal actions or proceedings for which there is no record of conviction, sentence or other final disposition.
Proper due-diligence is necessary to hire candidates that do not pose a threat to a company or its employees. However, caution is required even if an adverse record is found. It is important to ensure that all the facts are correctly uncovered and laid out before a hiring decision is made. For assistance with adverse hiring decisions please view our white papers: “EEOC Guidance and Background Investigations: 8 Important Factors to Consider when Reviewing an Applicant’s Prior Convictions” and “Statewide Criminal Convictions Time Reporting Recommendations.”
Mario Pecoraro is president/CEO of Alliance Risk Group, a company that provides pre- and post employment background screening investigations. He speaks at conferences around the country on hiring best practices.