Why Is Your Criminal Record Important?
Background checks, including a criminal record search, are routinely performed when you apply for a job, seek a security clearance or attempt to rent an apartment. A criminal conviction occurring years ago could be holding you back from pursuing the career or profession you desire. The internet has made it so easy to conduct a criminal record search that couples who are dating can find out about any criminal behavior in each other’s past. Doing your own background check is an excellent way to learn what others can find out about you and alert you to mistakes that you should take steps to correct. Learning , ” How Can I Check My Criminal Record .” can be accomplished very easily online. The first question to ask is do you need an official copy of your criminal record, or an unofficial criminal record for your reference. An official criminal record must be obtained by an FCRA certified service in order to use it for employment, academic applications, renting a home or security clearances.
What is in a Criminal Record?
Commonly referred to as a “rap sheet,” a criminal record or a record of convictions is your criminal history as maintained by agencies of state, local and federal governments. As a general rule, criminal records available upon request of a member of the public provide information about convictions for misdemeanors and felonies. Some records also include arrest information for the 12 months preceding the request and information about a person’s status as a registered sex offender.
What Is Considered a Criminal Record?
A violation of the criminal statutes of a particular state or local jurisdiction is usually classified as an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony. An offense is a non-criminal violation of the law. For example, a driver who fails to stop for a red light is committing an infraction by violating the state traffic laws and is subject to a fine. The conviction would become part of the individual’s driving record, but it would not leave the person with a criminal record unless the offense was a misdemeanor or a felony as might occur following an arrest for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Misdemeanor Criminal Records
Misdemeanors are more serious violations of the law than is an infraction. Misdemeanors are crimes, so a conviction would give you a criminal record. Simple assault and shoplifting are examples of criminal offenses classified as misdemeanors. If the victim of a simple assault suffers a serious injury, the charge could be upgraded to a felony.
Felony Criminal Records
Felonies, such as murder, rape and arson, are serious criminal offenses with penalties that could include imprisonment in a state prison or, in the case of a murder conviction, the death penalty. A felony becomes part of a person’s criminal history available to anyone conducting a background check.
How Long Do Criminal Records Stay On My Record?
Under most circumstances, a misdemeanor or felony conviction results in a permanent criminal record. There are, however steps a person can take to seal or expunge a criminal record.
How Criminal Records Affect Getting a Job
Most employers routinely conduct background checks before hiring someone for a job. A misdemeanor or felony conviction could cause a potential employer to decide not to offer employment to someone with a criminal record when there are other applicants for the position without criminal histories.
Another factor influencing how an employer evaluates a job applicant based upon the person’s criminal record has to do with the type of crime. The manager of a retail store might be reluctant to hire a person for a cashier position if the applicant has a criminal record with a theft conviction on it.
Some states will not grant certain licenses to someone with a felony conviction. For example, a person with a felony conviction could be prevented by the state from obtaining a license to work as a real estate agent or broker.
How To Get a Criminal Record Remvoed
There are procedures, such as expungement, by which a person may request the criminal record removal of a criminal record. However, the decision whether to grant the request is usually left to the discretion of a judge who must be convinced through a written application and evidence, including letters and other documents attesting to the applicant deserving to have the criminal record removed.
Some states allow for the sealing of a criminal record. As with a request to expunge a record, the applicant must complete a written application with supporting documents that prove the individual is worthy of having the criminal record sealed and made unavailable to the public and law enforcement agencies.
How Can I Check My Criminal Record
Some states allow you to obtain a copy of your criminal record by going to the local courthouse to make a request in person. It is much easier to make the request through the website a state has for conducting criminal record searches.
Some states permit you to apply for a criminal record search for a small service charge and view the results online. More detailed searches may be conducted by submitting a copy of your fingerprints to the state agency. The fingerprints are used to conduct a record search.
There are several commercial websites allowing you to conduct criminal record searches and background checks on yourself or on other people. The companies operating the websites charge a service fee to provide access to information obtained from public agency databases. With all the options available, there is more than one method to answer the question, ” How Can I Check My Criminal Record “.