How to Lookup Criminal Charges
Having a criminal record can keep you out of certain jobs and even keep you away from your polling place on election day. While some crimes that appear on your criminal record may not be troublesome for you, others can linger and impact your life for many years after they take place. Having the ability to lookup criminal charges can save a person a lot of grief and embarrassment.
Looking up a criminal record allows you to see what criminal charges or convictions are still present. This can help you fix errors, or in some cases, work to get old criminal records expunged in a timely manner. If you’re an attorney, being able to look up criminal charges is also particularly important when helping your clients.
Use this guide to learn more about how to lookup criminal charges and see what’s really part of a criminal record.
What is a Criminal Charge?
A criminal charge is simply an accusation that’s made by a law enforcement and government agency. For example, if you are in the state of California, you would be charged by that particular state for the offense in question.
A criminal charge is not a conviction, and not all criminal charges are as serious as you might think. In fact, things as simple as traffic tickets are often lumped in when talking about criminal charges.
What Are My Criminal Charges?
Checking criminal charges can seem like a daunting process if you’ve never attempted to do it before. If you’re checking charges for yourself, a loved one or a client that you’re working with as an attorney, there are a few different ways to do it that can be effective:
- Contact the court where the charges were filed. If you don’t mind working within the court system, you should be able to obtain a copy of your own criminal record or criminal charges that were filed against you. You may be able to obtain some of this information online as well, though the in-person process may be faster in some areas. Criminal charges that have been closed without conviction may not be available after a certain amount of time, however.
- Go through a third-party website. While third-party websites can’t get you official documents that you may need for a court hearing or other legal matter, you can quickly find out what criminal charges are on your criminal record. The main benefit of using a third-party website is the fact that you can see your records much faster than you could when filing a request with the appropriate court.
- Hire an attorney. An attorney can help you obtain a copy of your criminal history with ease. They can obtain an official copy for you, but they may also be able to find your information and relay it to you faster than simply going through the court system. However, hiring an attorney do this for you is going to be the most expensive option.
Common Criminal Charges
Not all criminal charges are for serious crimes, despite how menacing the term might sound. Here are some common criminal charges that you might be able to see on any given person’s criminal record:
- Citations and traffic tickets. These may include public nuisance or other minor charges.
- More serious complaints like assault, battery, DUI or drug sales.
- Serious felony charges related to major offenses like manslaughter, aggravated assault or drug trafficking.
Civil cases and issues related to civil court or monetary issues do not show up on your criminal record.
Criminal Charges vs. Criminal Convictions
A criminal charge is an accusation and nothing has been proven yet. A simple charge does not mean that you committed the crime or were found guilty of any sort of wrong doing at all.
A criminal conviction means that you were found guilty of a crime. How you were found guilty depends on the situation, as this can vary depending on the type of crime. After all, a traffic ticket conviction is different from a murder case conviction.
Why Looking Up Criminal Charges Is Important
Criminal charges can stay on your record for some time, making it hard for you to do everything from getting a job to voting and more. In some cases, charges that should have been dropped are left on a person’s record due to a simple clerical error. That’s one main reason why checking your criminal record regularly is essential if you’ve been charged with anything whether you were convicted or not.
Checking to see what criminal charges are part of your criminal record is also important if you want to see what others see when they run a background check. This is particularly important when dealing with a potential employer or handling court and custody issues.
Getting a copy of your criminal record can allow you to see any charges filed against you, including convictions. Being in the dark about your criminal record just doesn’t make sense, so get a copy of yours today if you’ve ever been charged. By doing that, you can fight any wrongful charges that may have an impact on your future for a very long time.
If left unchecked, those criminal charges can stay on your criminal record for years to come and potentially cause you some serious problems.