Statewide criminal history searches are not the end all be all of employee screening. Nearly half of the states don’t offer such a search and there are a handful that do, but include disclaimers about incomplete records. As a result, 100% coverage for statewide criminal records for background checks isn’t guaranteed. Not to imply that these searches are not a great starting point for any background check, but there are only rare instances where they should be conducted as a stand alone search for pre-employment screening. Professional background check investigators have long been aware that for the most complete coverage, searches must be conducted using the best available statewide criminal history data along with county and local court records. This is especially true for applicants coming from more rural areas as police departments in those locations are less likely to subscribe and submit to state reporting agencies.
When it comes to county level searches and any searches at the local or city level, we are looking for additional records that might include misdemeanor charges that otherwise may not be included in a statewide search, depending on the region. These searches help paint a clearer picture of an applicant’s criminal history and often include more detailed information about any arrests or convictions that might be found.
As background check experts, it is our job to advise our clients on the best practices in conducting background checks on applicants, which includes utilizing multiple sources of data to look for possible criminal records. In conjunction, statewide criminal history searches and county/local court searches offer the best possible coverage to ensure that any records that exist are located and reported appropriately to our clients.