How To Check My Criminal Record

More and more companies invest both time and money into running a criminal record check for job applicants. They want to make sure that they are getting someone whom they can trust, that is why they often use our product to search across the vast number of different databases available.

Do you know what a potential employer is going to find if they run your name through a criminal background check? The answers that you find might surprise – even if you have never been convicted of a crime before (but we will talk more about that later on). If you have ever been curious about your criminal record or asked yourself the question “how do I check my criminal record?”, we will help shed some light on the subject..

The Tools You Use For A Criminal Background Check

There are two primary options for finding out more about your criminal record: manual research and paid criminal background check products. You might say to yourself ‘most court information is public record’, which is true. You can check misdemeanor and felony convictions by visiting the court's official website if you know the county of your conviction. If you have both the time and the inclination, you can look up information at the local county or state courthouse. If you have been convicted in more than one location (or have resided in more than one location, it is going to take you a long time to go through each individual website.

The alternative to having to search manually is a paid criminal background check product such as We make sure that we combine all the different databases into a single location and keep the information up to date. This means that someone who wants the fastest and most accurate background check can simply use a single location to find all the information they need about a possible applicant.

Why Check Your Records?

This is another one of the questions that we often get “why would I want to check my own criminal record?” One of the reasons to check your criminal record is because you want to make sure that if you have expunged or sealed records, that these are in fact not showing up on a background check. One instance could be that you complete a expungement request to have certain eligible records removed from your record. If you have an expunged record, you can legally answer “no” for the question “have you been convicted for this type of crime”.

However, in rare instances we notice that certain databases still keep this information on file. You want to make sure that there are no private criminal databases where this information can be found. Even if you are not legally lying about an expunged record during a job application, you want to make sure that it does not appear that you are caught in a lie.

But I Know My Record – Why Check?

Perhaps you are too familiar with the details of all your criminal convictions, but do you have an idea what the actual court records are like? By using a credible background check company to search for your criminal record, you are able to see what an employer knows about you when they run a background check. Perhaps the information found in the court records make a situation appear far more severe than it actually was – perhaps there were extenuating circumstances that are not included in the records. By learning more about what the court records say, you are now aware of what someone running a background check sees and you can talk about possible inaccuracies or inconsistencies. Sometimes putting a situation into context is going to reveal a great deal more than the actual records will.

But I Have Never Been Convicted – Should I Still Check My Criminal Record?

Absolutely you should, even if you have never been convicted, charged with, or arrested for a crime, you can benefit from having a criminal record check done. You do this to make sure that there is no one else who goes by the same name with the same date of birth who has been convicted of a criminal offense before. You do not want your criminal record to have a conviction that belongs to another person on it.

Even though this is a mix-up, it could still mean that you are unable to get a new job. Finding out that you do in fact have someone with the same name and birthday as yourself would mean that you are able to stop these mistakes from happening during pre-employment background checks.

What Is An Employer Able To See?

We find that there are many applicants who are not quite clear on what an employer can or cannot see during a criminal background check. Here is what an employer CAN find out about you:

  • Any convictions (regardless of when these took place)
  • Arrests from the last 7 years

Your potential employer is NOT able to find out about:

  • Records that have been erased, expunged, or pardoned
  • Arrests from more than 7 years ago

By having a better understanding of what is going to show up on your criminal record, you are able to better prepare for the job interview process. It ultimately means that you have more of an understanding of what might come up during an interview.

How Do I Answer Questions About My Criminal Record

This is a question that people with a criminal record often worry about, how do I answer questions about my criminal record? The truth is that honesty is the best policy here. If you actively lie about something when you apply for a job, there is a good chance that you are going to be fired for lying. If you have questions about your criminal record, make sure that you check the information carefully and only answer the requested information. For example, if the company asks if you have been convicted of a felony, do not openly begin talking about misdemeanors.

If you need to answer “yes” on a question about your criminal record, it is a good idea to write something along the lines of “yes, and will explain at interview”. This is going to let you discuss why something in your past does not mean that you will not be a great employee in the future.

Tips For Applicants

Because so many people have a blemish on their record, we want to make sure that we offer steps so you can prepare for a job interview:

  • Learn the questions – There are often standard questions that get asked related to a criminal background check, make sure that you understand these and have an answer ready.
  • Tell the truth – We previously mentioned it, but honestly is the best policy. You might not get state welfare or unemployment if you are fired for lying. It might also be a criminal offense to lie about your criminal record in some jobs.
  • How will you talk about your criminal record? - You might have to explain certain gaps in your job history where you did not have a job. How are you going to explain the times when you did not have a job?

Getting Something Off Your Record

If you believe that something on your criminal record is a mistake, you should send a letter to state police. You should detail the information that is incorrect and provide proof of the mistake. You should get a response within 60 days.

There are also pardons available. These include:

  • A provisional pardon – This might make it easier to get a job but does not erase your criminal record. With a provisional pardon it is not legal for an employer to hire you just because of your criminal record.
  • An expungement – This is going to erase your state criminal record. You have to wait a specific number of years from the disposition date before you can apply for a pardon.

Being Prepared For A Job Search

It is difficult to get a job, and it might be even more difficult if you already have a criminal record. Before you get hired, there is a good chance that you will have to complete a criminal background check. Make sure that you understand your rights – and that you know what is or is not included in your criminal record. By knowing what an employer is able to find out about you, how you can answer questions about your criminal record, and figuring out how to remove something from your record, you should have a better chance of finding a job in the future.