Federal Criminal Search

Background checks are not a one-size fits all solution for employers. Each job and even each company has different kinds of needs that require different kinds of screening solutions. This even applies to the most basic of all screenings, aside from a standard employment history search – the criminal background check.

If you’re running a criminal background check all on your own, it’s important to know the options you have available to you – along with all the reasons for doing it one way versus the other. We’ll walk you through two major variations of this essential employment screening, and show you the best ways to both conduct one, and apply the data you retrieve to your overall background check process for new hires.

The Details Of A Federal Criminal Vs. County Criminal Search

Federal Criminal Search

A federal criminal search combs through records of federal crimes against a candidate’s name. If your candidate’s name matches any of the names associated with these offenses, it won’t take long to retrieve the relevant data. Moreover, it will quickly raise major questions about who you want to hire.

Federal crimes refer to offenses that violate U.S. federal laws, and are both investigated and prosecuted on the federal level as well. Many of these offenses are specific to the federal system, but some can simply be crimes that occured on Native American reservations or on any U.S. federal property. They can also include offenses that cross state borders. Kidnapping or drug trafficking, for instance, automatically become federal crimes when more than one state is involved. Other crimes that fall under the wide banner of federal offenses include computer crimes, damage to religious property, aircraft crimes, embezzlement, extortion, aggravated assault and battery, armed robbery, sexual assault, and wire fraud, to name just a few.

Federal criminal searches can be run on a nationwide level, or on the county level. The data on the nationwide level obviously combs quite wide, but usually retrieves only a shallow amount of public data, versus a district by district search for federal offenses, which combs much narrower, but retrieves a much deeper amount of public data.

County Criminal Search

A county criminal search combs through violations of state law that are held within the records of county courthouses. 99% of the results you’ll find on record encompass state law violations. The number of districts in each state vary from state to state (some states even just have one), so it’s important to confirm your candidate’s full address history when running your search, and include all counties listed.

Looking for a way to help confirm you’re getting a full address history before running any criminal search? Process a social security number trace on the candidate before running anything else. A SSN trace will retrieve a full list of addresses associated with that number, pinpointing the string of county searches you need to get the complete picture. If there are any gaps in that address history that aren’t already accounted for, then that’s also useful information. A SSN trace can also reveal any additional names a candidate may have used, which helps you expand that criminal history search accordingly (when it comes to not only state crimes, but federal ones as well).

Running A Federal Criminal & A County Criminal Search

If you’re conducting your entire background check all on your own, or relegating it to an in-house hiring manager, it can be a time consuming process, particularly when it comes to any county search. That’s why many time-pressed hiring managers choose to simply screen their candidate’s name against the National Criminal Database.

The National Criminal Database is a go-to for many companies looking to do decent diligence on their search without spending too much time, or spending too many resources looking. In other words – it encompasses an incomplete search, but it’s nonetheless a wide one. Over 750 million records are kept across multiple databases, and include both major and minor offenses. It’s a very useful tool to add to any search, and can even shed light on crimes that may have fallen through the cracks on that shallower, nationwide-level federal criminal search, but on its own, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

It’s easy to see why companies – and hiring managers specifically – turn to it in a pinch, however. Running a search on any local level, whether it be a country criminal search or a federal one, tends to become tiring and time-consuming. You’ll want to contact each county courthouse directly to retrieve the full records on file. Different counties have different protocols for this request, meaning you may have to get this information in a completely new way, for every county you check. Some states offer statewide checks, which combine all participating counties, but again, to feel secure, you’ll have to do a lot more legwork.

Ideally, you want to combine at least a county search, a federal search, and a search against the National Criminal Database for any candidate offered a high-value position. When it comes to federal and state crimes, both a deep county and a wide federal search cover the information that the other may be missing, with the Database search confirming that no crimes associated with your candidate’s name have disappeared from the latter. Again – that could mean a lot of work if you’re screening manually, which is where hiring a third party background check service makes life a whole lot easier. A third-party service can automate your criminal search process, and save you time and energy. It helps, however, for that service to be staffed with knowledgeable experts.

PeopleG2’s award-winning team doesn’t just verify the results of every search with first-rate knowledge & discretion, but we have researchers who handpick from records across every local courthouse across the country. On top of that, PeopleG2 makes it easy to further target your criminal history search with options like the statewide screenings described above – along with checking against the National Sex Offender Registry.

To Summarize

To properly comb through records of both federal and state crimes, you need to be searching on both the nationwide and the county levels. It’s not a casual task, especially if you’re adding on a search through the National Criminal Database (which you should).

If you want all this done quickly and efficiently, don’t leave all the work to yourself – or to HR. Hire a service like PeopleG2 that can automate every time-sucking chore, and verify all the information we’ve retrieved with industry-best knowledge and experience. When it comes to protecting your company, don’t settle for anything less than the full story. We can get that to you faster, easier and more decisively than anyone else, on any level.

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