Criminal Report Differences – Criminal Background Check

When someone says “background check”, what most people actually mean is a Criminal Background Check. Criminal Report differences are a source of confusion for many people. There are many different types of criminal background checks and sometimes they all sound the same but they do have some major (or minor) differences.
There are 4 main types of criminal reports:

County Criminal Level Reports
County Criminal reports are just that – criminal reports obtained at the county level. They cover felony and misdemeanor case information obtained directly from the court system in one particular county. They will typically go back a minimum of 7 years, but could go back further depending on the county. The benefit of county reports is that they are the most accurate. They will contain all case filings in the court system as of that day.

The biggest downfall of county criminal reports is that they only cover one county. This could get very expensive if you are running all counties in a state, or even just the counties a person has lived. In addition, just because a person lives in one county, doesn’t mean they can’t commit a crime in a neighboring county.

Statewide Criminal Level Reports
When it comes to statewide criminal reports, the biggest thing to remember is that there is a big difference between a “repository” report and a “database” report.

Repository reports are typically obtained directly from a state agency. Many states have a department that gathers and maintains criminal records that can be purchased for a fee. The upside to these types of reports is that, because the government provided it, many feel that it is more reliable than a database report obtained by a private company. These reports are typically considered more “compliant” with regards to employment hiring practices. The biggest “issue” many people have with repository reports is the cost. Many government agencies charge significant fees for the report and can have a longer turn-around time involved.

Database reports are obtained through private companies, not state agencies. Because of this, many courts hold Repository reports in a much higher regard then database reports.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of private database companies that gather and maintain criminal information from various court systems, court administrators, and public records systems. These private companies then sell this information to background screening companies for a fee. Although the information in these reports come from court systems and other government resources, they are not gathered and maintained by the state. The accuracy of the reports depends on many factors including how often the information is updated and the diligence of the person gathering the information. Not all database reports are created equal. It is important to be aware of what you are getting when ordering a database report.

The best part of database report is typically the low cost and fast turn-around time. Depending on the purpose of the report, they are a very effective and economical choice. For instance, landlords typically pick this choice because it is fast and inexpensive. However, when hiring a high-level executive, a company will normally go for the more “compliant” government provided report.

When it comes to Statewide Criminal Reports, it is best to consider the purpose of the report, which state the report is being ordered from, and the cost versus benefit factor of a repository report or database report. We are always available to help guide you through the differences and help you pick which report is best for you.

National Level Criminal Reports
National Level Criminal Reports are always database reports obtained and maintained by a private company. The government does not sell a national search to the public. Because of this reason, the same rules apply to this report as the Statewide Database reports. Basically, a National Criminal report is a compilation of all the available statewide database reports. National reports cover the most area for the lowest cost.

The name, National, however is misleading. National criminal reports are “national” in the sense that they cover courts and agencies all over the nation, but they in no way are inclusive of ALL courts and agencies in the United States. Many states and/or counties have rules and regulations regarding what type of information they release to the public and some counties don’t provide a database for this purpose at all. Therefore, national records have a potential to miss information in these areas.

Federal Level Criminal Reports
Federal Criminal Reports are much different than any of the other criminal reports. The name may confuse people to think that a federal report is a national report. There is a very big difference between a National Criminal Report and a Federal Criminal Report. Federal Criminal Reports only search the Federal Court System for Federal crimes. Those are the big things like drug trafficking or kidnapping across state lines, terrorist threats, and embezzlement… This search will NOT pickup state level crimes.

It is also very important to remember the Federal Courts do not release date of birth or social security number for comparison. Therefore, Federal Criminal Searches are done by name match only.

In conclusion, the options of available criminal reports are abundant. Picking the right one for your purpose can be daunting. We are here to help. We won’t tell you what to do, or what you shouldn’t do, but we will give you all the knowledge that you need to make an educated choice.