The first thing you should know is that a single "National" database containing all criminal records does not exist outside of the FBI system. Are you surprised to hear that? Most people usually are!
Unfortunately, employers and background check agencies cannot simply enter an applicant’s name, date of birth, or social security number into one place and receive all of their criminal records. Rather, criminal records are stored in several completely separate systems, including places such as in County Courthouses, State Repositories, and in privately owned multi-state databases. Clearly this can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to determine which of those you need to have searched as part of your new hire background checks.
At ProScreening, we feel the best practice for an accurate and comprehensive criminal search is to perform BOTH a multi-state database search as well as a search of all county court records where an applicant has lived within the last 7 years. We call this search package our "Comprehensive Criminal Check". The following describes why it is important to include both types of searches in your background checks.
Searching an instant multi-state database can be compared to casting a wide net across the country to see if there are any crimes that your applicant committed across the country. Although these instant database searches are essential to find any crimes committed outside of where an applicant has lived, unfortunately they are estimated to only contain approximately 50% of court records from across the country. Due to that, databases should never be used as your only source for criminal records.
In order to perform a comprehensive criminal search, the industry standard (which we support) is to also search each counties felony and misdemeanor records where an applicant has lived. The best practice to do this accurately is to first determine where your applicant has lived, worked, and/or gone to school during the past 7-10 years. In order to do this, ProScreening utilizes a Social Security Number Trace to access 7 years worth of an applicant’s address history. With this information, we can make an informed decision as to which county criminal records we should search. County records are the most detailed, accurate and up-to-date type of criminal searches available. Unlike databases, the information contained in county criminal records is usually updated in real time and will contain the most accurate case disposition information.
Due to the different demographic restrictions of both the database searches and county records, we strongly recommend that your background check includes BOTH our Instacriminal Multi-State Database and 7 Years of County Criminal Records in order to provide you with a background check that is truly thorough. Aside from an actual FBI Background Check, our recommended Comprehensive Criminal Background Check is your best option to truly know what kind of person you might be hiring.