When it comes to hiring and recruitment, it’s best to partner with a trusted employment screening company to ensure compliance with applicable privacy laws and most importantly, to have accurate reports.
Criminal checks are common procedures in any background screening process. However, there are different types of criminal history records from different jurisdictions that you should know about. While the comprehensiveness of a report depends on where the information was obtained, it can also depend on the background check company you’re working with because not all companies do criminal checks in the same manner and in the same amount of time.
What is a county criminal records search?
County searches are among the main criminal record checks that pre-employment background check companies will perform. They typically provide more details about an individual’s criminal history considering that trials for all misdemeanor and felonies, which make up a majority of crimes, are done at a local level and filed in county courthouses. There are at least 3,100 counties across the country holding regularly updated and accurate county-level criminal records.
County vs. statewide criminal search
On the other hand, statewide criminal checks look into state criminal databases for criminal records including misdemeanors and felonies committed by the individual. While statewide and county-level searches supplement each other, the quality of data provided by statewide checks will vary from state to state. Sadly, some state databases are not regularly updated. There are even some that don’t include every county in the record.
Information from county searches
County searches provide detailed, accessible information about the criminal records of the individual within the limitations of state guidelines and Fair Credit Reporting Act. These records include:
- Active warrants
- Pending cases
- Level of offense
- Current status of the cases
- Convictions or adjudications
Generally, a county-level criminal search won’t include the following:
- Cases tried on state courts
- Police and law enforcement records
- Non-criminal records such as state-level petty crimes, infractions and traffic violations
- Deleted or expunged records
The accuracy and comprehensiveness of the criminal check reports will depend on how thorough your employment screening company goes through the applicable county records and each of the cases. So make sure you’re partnering with a dependable background check company with industry-recognized accreditation.
County searches are only as good as their scope
Furthermore, the completeness and accuracy of a county criminal background report will depend on the number of names and addresses applicable to each individual that are used in checking the databases.
While you’ll normally use the current name of the employment candidates to search for their criminal history, making use of all their aliases and even their previous last names (such as in the case of married women) can expand the scope of the county records search, and thus, creating a more comprehensive report on the individuals.
The same thing holds true when it comes to the individuals’ addresses. Aside from their current address, the following will further expand the scope of the county criminal search:
- Last few previous addresses
- Addresses where the individuals live within 7 to 10 years (7 years is the standard background check timeframe)
- All employment addresses
- All addresses of schools attended
The various names and addresses of an individual are reasons why county criminal searches are best supplemented with other background screening checks such as Social Security Number verification and even basic Instant Criminal Background Checks.
Do not DIY your county criminal checks
Country records are generally accessible electronically or online, but this doesn’t mean that you or your HR team should DIY the criminal records check in an effort to save money. For one, professional and experienced pre-employment background check companies have sufficient resources and manpower to provide accurate and comprehensive criminal record reports as fast as possible while toeing the line of any applicable privacy-protection and compliance legislations.
Moreover, not all counties make their records available online. In these cases, the data must be manually searched by the clerks or on-site researchers at the county courthouse.
Partner with a trusted background check company
Ensure you’re onboarding the right employment candidate the first time. SimpliVerified is a fully equipped background check and consumer reporting agency offering a variety of screening services. We’re accredited with the Professional Background Screening Association, which represents our commitment to compliance, transparency and constant improvement.
Contact us today to learn more.