The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website offers an inmate locator service for free. You can also check out credible public interest organizations such as the Family Watch Dog website that keeps track of sex offenders released from prison. Your next step is to search the separate databases of state correctional facilities, police records, and court records. Before you start your search, remember to verify the person’s name or identity.
In many states, criminal records are restricted and you need the person’s date of birth and social security number in order to conduct the search. Usually, prospective employers have this information but they are required by law to inform their applicants that a criminal background check is being conducted on them. They also need to provide the applicant access to the public information they gathered.
However, the process needed to make a complete search on your own for free criminal records online is difficult and time consuming. You may not have the time and patience to search through the mountain of free public information scattered all over the web. You may be satisfied with free public information services if your reasons for searching are merely for curiosity, and your personal life or business is not at risk.
However, if you are an employer with numerous candidates to investigate, or a landlord with several potential tenants applying, or a busy professional searching for a care giver for your children or aging parents, convenience and time are important to you.
In addition, you have to keep in mind that free services not provided by government agencies or accredited government providers have to be double-checked. Gathering nationwide data such as criminal records, which incur several additions throughout the year, requires great investment of time and resources. Therefore, sites that offer free information may not have updated records. Free criminal records database providers cannot provide convenience and customer service to help you search.
Your next recourse is an online search for fee-based providers of criminal record research. The fee depends on the detail of the research you want. The price will vary depending on the scope and quality of their databases. Some database searches are organized by state, while others provide a convenient nationwide search feature of criminal records for around $40 yearly fee per database.
Think through the reason for your search and consequences of inaccurate information, and then decide whether it is reasonable for you to pay higher subscription fees for quality information providers.