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What is a State Level Arrest Record?

When conducting a pre-screen background investigation, a criminal history is of utmost importance.  These searches are typically placed in two main categories: arrest records and court records.  The use of each category has its strengths and weaknesses, so it is important for you to evaluate what you are trying to achieve to determine which is best for your application.

Arrest records are usually housed at the state level in a databank maintained by the governing judicial body within each state.  Many of these systems are fingerprint driven, meaning that when an individual is arrested and fingerprinted, those fingerprints are submitted to the state databank for tracking purposes.  The records that are subsequently pulled outline an individual’s arrest record based on those fingerprint submissions.

Additionally, it is important to realize that if an illegible fingerprint card is submitted, the state will return it to be redone.  Unfortunately, by then the subject may have already been released from custody and is not available to be re-fingerprinted.  Subsequently, there will not be a record of this arrest in the system.

The primary disadvantage to most arrest record systems is they do not contain disposition information on the charges.  This means that you will not know if the person was convicted of the crime for which he were arrested.  However, using arrest records can also be an advantage.  The arrest record in itself may show a pattern that could pose a potential concern depending on the position for which your applicant is applying.  This pattern could be critically important, regardless of whether a conviction was entered, depending on the position your trying to fill.

Finally, statewide records are not available in all states and some states have lengthy turnaround times which may cause their use to be ineffective for your purposes.  Therefore it is imperative that you determine if arrest records will best suit your needs.  All criminal searches are per name, per jurisdiction searched.

Important Note: Statewide systems can also be dependent upon getting their data from the individual county jurisdictions.  If a county does not update their data to the statewide system on a regular basis, or at all for that matter, the statewide system may have holes in its coverage area.  Therefore, statewide records should only be used as a cursory review of applicant’s record. TruDiligence does not recommend the use of Statewide records as a means of promoting due diligence in hiring practices or maintaining compliance with The Fair Credit Reporting Act.  County level courthouse records are recommended for this purpose.

Statewide records are not available in all states as some states restrict access to their statewide databases to law enforcement personnel only.  The states currently available are listed with their respective prices and are priced on a per name basis.  The turnaround times quoted are averages and may vary depending on state backlog, therefore they cannot be guaranteed.
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