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What are Criminal Records?

Criminal records are a history of a person’s crimes—used by a variety of types of people and organizations—to assess someone’s character and past. The information included in a criminal records check varies from provider to provider, making it of the utmost importance that you chose a company with access to all of the major public records sources.

A criminal records check typically lists all of crimes a person has committed that have not been expunged from the criminal record. Viewing this information will allow you to quickly asses a person's past and view data that would be otherwise unavailable.

Criminal Records Overview

In the United States, the purpose of a criminal record is to present a comprehensive criminal history of a person. These types of records are generally used during the background checks process in situations involving travel licensing and adoption. Criminal records are also used to investigate suspects in current criminal investigations and to help with sentencing in court prosecutions.

Various criminal records are stored in a number of places, both physically and electronically. Federal records, for instance, are stored in the respective federal law enforcement agencies. The federal government also maintains a database of all federal crimes. For example, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is a database run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that manages the official national criminal database. This database also holds information about matters such as pending depositions, open arrest warrants, and missing persons.

Criminal Records by State

Most states have an agency that maintains all criminal records on the state level. This information is submitted partially to the NCIC to maintain criminal records on the federal level. However, individual states typically have much more detailed records about all warrants and state arrests. States also have the option to search the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS) in order to find out information about a citizen's criminal and driving records that might be located in another state.

Other Criminal Record Facts

In the United States, most misdemeanors are removed from the public record after a certain amount of time has passed. This information is very useful as these crimes no longer have to be reported by people after that period has passed. Other crimes can potentially be expunged from the record, but these laws vary from state to state.

Criminal Records in Other Countries

Criminal records tend to function in a similar way in most other countries. There are always a few differences, though. For example, in Canada there are four levels of record checks, each with a varying amount of information. Ultimately, it’s important you understand the laws and processes of whatever country you are in.

Whether you need to perform a criminal records check or would like to know what information is out there on yourself, get all the information you need right here on

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