Why are criminal records important?
Criminal records in America are a large part of society and can heavily affect our lives. Without prior knowledge of our society's laws, the criminal justice system can be confusing and could have more severe consequences without understanding how it works. One in three Americans has a criminal record ranging from minor offenses to severe felonies.
What information do criminal records have?
The main information criminal records show is any crime that resulted in a conviction. Personal information is listed to identify the person, such as name and birthday. A criminal record may also show the details of the court hearing, the trial, and arrest records. Finally, information such as height, weight, eye color, race, etc., are in a criminal record to quickly identify the person.
What is the difference between an arrest record and a criminal record?
An arrest record only contains details about the arrest, not if the person was convicted of a crime. This means that someone arrested many times could be innocent and never have committed a crime. A criminal record will show both arrests and convictions.
Can you find criminal records for free?
Criminal records are held by multiple government agencies and can usually be found for free by at least one of them, depending on the state you live in. However, many people choose to do an online criminal record search for convenience.
Can you view criminal records online?
Many websites, including this one, have criminal record databases and can provide information about anyone you search for. Additionally, government websites may contain public information, but there may be restrictions on who can view it online. Everyone in America has a right to view public information.
Can employers see your criminal record?
Most employers will be able to see your criminal record. There are different laws put in place in various states that prevent employers from discriminating against people with criminal records. However, if you have committed a crime related to a job you are applying to, then employers retain the right not to hire you for that reason.
How far do background checks go?
Background checks can see any crime regardless of when it was committed unless there is a state law that says otherwise. Multiple states have joined the "Seven-year states," meaning that employers can't see crimes past seven years. Job applicants also have the right to obtain a company of criminal record history that the employer views.
How can I get a criminal background check?
Background checks can be obtained through third-party websites or the government. The local state government will provide criminal records about anyone for a fee. Additionally, visiting the local trial court will usually contain criminal records. The sheriff's office has access to the criminal database as well. An online search is usually the fastest and most convenient way to get a background check on yourself or another person.
Can employers see your arrest record?
In general, employers are able to see your arrest record. This is problematic for many people since an arrest record is not significant towards being a good employee or even a criminal. However, many states have specific laws that prevent arrest records from being shown completely or limited. For example, Maryland requires employees to only inquire about arrest records relevant to the job.
How do I find recent local arrests?
The best place to start looking for a recent arrest is the most closely associated government entity. For example, if a crime were committed in a local county, the sheriff assigned to that county would be the person to talk to. There is probably a short time when a recent arrest will not show up on a criminal record.
How do you wipe a criminal record clean?
The best way to reduce the impact of a criminal record is by expunging or sealing it. Expungement is removing a criminal record, where the online files are erased and the physical files destroyed. Sealing is the act of making your criminal record private. The eligibility of getting your record expunged or sealed depends on the state. There is no way to expunge a federal crime.
How do I get my criminal record expunged?
The expungement process looks different for every state. However, the process usually begins by checking to see if one is eligible for expungement and then filing for it through the court. It can take a long time, and there are many steps to gather documents and go to court along the way. Getting an attorney is recommended for this process.
How do I get my arrest record expunged?
Expunging an arrest record is usually much more accessible than a criminal conviction, as almost every state has laws that permit it. Certain states would allow immediate eligibility for the expungement of an arrest if there were no convictions. The process is typically the same as expunging a criminal record and is started by filing a local court request.
Do I need an attorney after committing a crime?
If you are charged with a crime, getting an attorney is the best thing you can do to help yourself. No matter how much you think you know about the law, an attorney has dedicated their entire career to have expert knowledge about how to help you. They will do most of the work for you and do everything they can to give you a reduced sentence or help you win the case.
Do I need an attorney for expungement?
In most cases, an attorney will be well worth the cost when expunging a criminal record. The process is lengthy and complicated, and making an error in the process may prevent one from having a clear history. Attorneys will do everything they can to make the process go smoothly and give you peace of mind.
Are arrest records public knowledge?
Arrest records are public knowledge unless they are expunged or sealed. In certain states, they could be automatically expunged after a certain period of time or be unavailable to the public. This has been a controversy for a while because arrest records don't indicate criminal behavior but can still negatively impact one's life.
What is a felony?
A felony is considered a more serious crime, as contrasted to misdemeanors. Felonies usually have more severe sentences and are harder to expunge. What qualifies as a felony differs between all 50 states. It is typically what most people think of when they think of crime. Things like murder, fraud, robbery, arson, kidnapping, and forgery are all felonies in all states.
What is a misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are a lesser crime that almost always has a more straightforward sentence than felonies. Depending on the state, there are different classes of misdemeanors, and some sentences may be a small fine. Disturbing the peace, reckless driving, and DUIs are all examples of misdemeanors. Misdemeanors typically don't cause significant harm to other people, whereas felonies almost always do.
Are there crimes less offensive than misdemeanors?
Some states have infractions, which are crimes lesser than misdemeanors. These are almost always things like traffic violations, littering, and jaywalking. There are practically no infractions that result in a prison sentence and usually result in a small fine.
What is Megan's Law?
Megan's law states that all relevant information regarding sex offenders must be available to the public. This law was adopted nationwide after the murder and rape of Megan Kanka, where a repeat sex offender was not notified to the public before the event. Information about sex offenders such as name, appearance, convictions, and location is publicly available because of Megan's Law.
How do I find the sex offender registry?
Simply search for the national sex offender registry on the Internet. There are also third-party services that notify you of sex offenders in your area. Additionally, you can search for a state sex offender registry. The sheriff's office will contain public information about sex offenders as well.
How can I get off the sex offender registry?
Getting off the state sex offender registry is challenging to do and depends on which state you live in. Many states have a tiered sex offender system, with low-tier sex offenders having more rights and potentially not registering for life. High-tier offenders usually have to register for life and lose many rights.
What can you do after being convicted of a crime?
After being convicted, one can appeal to a higher court, serve their sentence, and try to reduce their sentence through good behavior. Appealing to a higher court will cause the next court up from the trial court to review the case without receiving any additional information. If they find that the case was heard poorly, they can reverse or remand the lower court's decision.
What's inside an inmate record?
Inmate records contain information about convicted people who are sent to either jail, prison, or correctional facilities. It will provide information like the inmate's location, if they've been moved to a different facility, parole status, probation status, and sentence status.
Where can I find inmate records?
Most states will have a website for inmate records or provide contact information to retrieve them. Finding the court agency that holds inmate records for a specific facility can also be contacted. However, it can be challenging to find the right one.
Do I have to go to trial after committing a crime?
Everyone charged with a crime must go to court. It is a constitutional right to receive due process, and it is in everyone's best interest to show up to court. The court can give the police a warrant to search for someone if they don't go to the trial.
Do juveniles have criminal records?
When a juvenile commits a crime, there is a much different process and attitude regarding how it is recorded. Juveniles are much more likely to make mistakes in life, so there are laws put in place to protect people up until they are adults. Juveniles typically have far reduced sentences, don't go to prison, and are much easier to qualify for expungement.
Are juvenile criminal records public knowledge?
Juvenile records are usually confidential. Again, this is meant to protect juveniles' future and not have crimes committed now affect them later in life. In most cases, employers will not ask and cannot ask about your juvenile criminal record.
What does it mean to be put on probation?
Probation is usually offered as an alternative to jail time, and it allows people to continue with their life with certain restrictions. There are usually orders to not go near certain people or places, or they are tracked with an ankle bracelet and instructed to remain in a specific area.
What does parole mean?
Parole is an opportunity for the convicted to get out of jail early. It usually requires a history of good behavior in the prison system, and they are still supervised after being released. Additionally, parolees are sometimes needed to stay in certain areas and are not allowed to do drugs or alcohol.