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Criminal Record

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Criminal Record

If someone has a criminal record, it is likely that both them and a third party can access this record with a public information request. Laws regarding public records in general and criminal records specifically vary from state to state. Some states make such records easy to access and some states make it much more difficult. If the record holder or someone else is going to be accessing their criminal record, they should know what might be on the record, how the criminal record can be accessed online, and how they can request a hard copy of their record. Read on to learn more about criminal records.

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Criminal Records Defined

Defining “criminal record” may seem simple: it’s a record of all the crimes someone has been convicted of. However, there is often considerably more information than convictions on someone’s criminal record. This is another aspect that varies from state to state, but criminal records may also include pending charges, charges they have been acquitted of, all arrests (even if the arrest did not lead to a conviction), and both past and outstanding warrants.
Of course, the criminal record that a record holder can request from their state will include all state criminal cases. However, a criminal record will often also include local and federal cases, especially if these cases resulted in a conviction.
In addition to criminal cases, a criminal record will also include a person’s name, fingerprints, picture, current and past addresses, and any aliases.
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Accessing Your Criminal History

Some states make it easy to look up criminal records online. This ease of access is more commonly seen with those convicted of sex crimes, but those convicted of other types of crimes may also have easily accessible criminal records. In general, it is easier for someone to access their own criminal record than it is for a third party to access the record.

While someone may be able to easily view their criminal record online through their state’s public record’s database. a third party will likely need their permission. As you might expect, law enforcement is an exception to this. Even law enforcement may need your permission to access your criminal history if you are not suspected of a crime. For example, you must give permission for law enforcement to carry out a criminal records check if you want to purchase a firearm.


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Request a Criminal Record

The vast majority of states, even those who do not have online databases, allow people to request their own criminal records online. Such a request will often require the record holder to pay a fee and list a reason for their request. If a third party is requesting a record, they will have to show proof that the record holder has given them permission to do so.

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Last Verified:
May 11, 2022
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