How to Get a Criminal Record – Including Your Own – Online

Written by Jason Lee -

A criminal record contains a person's criminal history at a local, state, and federal level. Criminal records often include records of:

  • misdemeanors
  • felony convictions
  • charges pending
  • acquitted charges
  • ongoing proceedings

A criminal record can be a burden. Some employers request this information to determine your candidacy for a position. Others may consider you a danger to themselves if they see your history.

On the flip side, criminal records can also help keep you safe. Such a situation that could help is if you've found a love interest, but something doesn't feel right. Such gut feelings usually happen for a reason. One such reason could be something in their past that could be discovered through these records.

So how can you go about seeing what is on your criminal record? And how can you lawfully request someone else's records? Read on as we guide you through the steps you can take for both.

Request Your Criminal Record

Getting your own records requires you to request a copy through the FBI website. Once you complete the Applicant Information Form, you will need a copy of your fingerprints for processing. This can be done at your local law enforcement agency, or at a sheriff's office. You will then need to mail the Applicant Information Form, and your fingerprint card, to the FBI.

Note that you will also need to make a payment by check, money order, or credit card before your criminal records will be sent to you.

Request Someone Else's Criminal Record

When someone is arrested and convicted - or acquitted - of a federal crime, public records exist of the case. These records are the court proceedings, which anyone can view with the right know-how. The most reliable access to these records is from the federal courthouse the person was tried.

You will need to speak to a clerk of courts, who can access these records. They will need to provide some basic information to help locate the records. At the very least, the clerk will need the person's name and date of birth. Other information of help would be the case number of interest, and a social security number.

There is the potential that some records will need you to contact other courthouses. This will be necessary if the person has been convicted in several cities, or even states.

If you feel the person is a (potential) sex offender, check the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). If the person has been convicted of sexual offences in the past, their records will be available. Use the quick search feature to search their name against the national database. If you feel unsafe or at risk, contact your local law enforcement immediately.

Other Criminal History Access Methods 

Some times searching online for the person's name with "mugshot" can be all that's needed. For example, you could search on Google for 'John Doe mugshot' and take a look at the web and image search results. While a little unorthodox, it can turn up some quick results before you delve in to looking at court cases.

Another option is to go to your local or state police department. So long as your reasons are lawful, they are able to provide a criminal history report. Note that fees will apply for these services. If the records you need are in another state, you will need to contact that state police department for such records. Again, fees will apply for these types of requests.

Last but by no means least, you can look through background check websites. These websites can often give you easy access to criminal records without you needing to request anything. Simply provide what information you can and these services do the heavy lifting for you. Each service has different fees attached, so be sure to check the fine print and make sure you're happy with what you're paying for

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