What Are Criminal Records?
Criminal records are official state and federal documents of an individual’s convictions for state and federal crimes. Criminal records do not include accusations that were not proven and do not include non-criminal matters before state or federal courts. A criminal record could include:
- Active warrants
- Prior arrest information
- Current and pending criminal charges
- Acquitted criminal charges
- Dismissed criminal charges
Criminal records include misdemeanor and felony convictions, including for traffic violations.
How Are Criminal Records Used?
Criminal records are useful tools for determining the level of trust and honesty individuals and organizations might place in an individual. Background checks occur for many valid reasons, including:
- Employment screening for potential job offers
- When applying for admissions to a college or university
- Signing lease agreements
- Applying for travel visas
- Obtaining security clearance
- Buying firearms to ensure felons and others banned from ownership do not obtain them
- When signing up for military service
- As part of a criminal investigation
Criminal records include the Georgia Sex Offender Registry, which compiles a list of known criminal sexual offenders in respective communities across the state. Georgia requires convicted sex offenders to provide their current address and includes a recent photo as well as information of criminal sexual convictions, including those that occur out of state.
How Can Someone Access Your Records?
Unless they are sealed or expunged by a lawful court order, all criminal records are public records that virtually anyone can access. Criminal records and trial proceedings are maintained by state and federal courts. That is so that members of a local community can review them and better know the potential extent of criminal activity that occurs.
The Georgia Crime Information Center provides criminal records to anyone who obtains written permission from the subject and pays a fee to obtain the records. Because felonies are more serious levels of criminal convictions than misdemeanor convictions, the Georgia Technology Authority maintains the Georgia Felon Search website.
How Can You Request a Criminal Record?
The Georgia Felon Search provides immediate information on individuals’ respective felony convictions in the state. The database accesses the Georgia Bureau of Investigation records of felony convictions so that you can learn immediately whether someone close to your or your family is a potential problem. The online records search charges a fee.
You also can search county and federal court case records of individuals and learn about any criminal charges that respective courts might have processed and the final judgments in each case. Most courts do not charge fees for basic records searches but do for more extensive inquiries. The court records include criminal charges and final verdicts as well as any penalties imposed by the respective court. Court case records are not the same as criminal records.
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