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What Should I Know About Free Criminal Background Checks?

Article Details
  • Written By: A Kaminsky
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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In this age of information and identity theft, many businesses want to know more about employees and prospective hires. Private citizens may want to check out a neighbor, or even a love interest. One way to do this is through free criminal background checks. Free criminal background checks are usually done online and can give some important information.

Some people protest free criminal background checks, or any kind of background checks, citing their right to privacy. The truth is, however, that much of this kind of information is public record. Adult arrest records, property tax assessments, marriage licenses, divorce decrees -- unless sealed by the court, all these are public record and the county courthouse clerks or police station clerks are required by law to disclose the public portions of these records upon request. Megan's Law, for instance, requires all convicted sex offenders to register their whereabouts with local law enforcement, and also puts limits on how close they can live to a school or day care center. This information is public record, as is the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR). Free criminal background checks often canvass these records to produce information for background reports.

Free criminal background checks do have their limitations, however. They usually only cover those records readily available online by a simple name search. They do not necessarily include every arrest, or arrests made out of state, or civil cases. These are usually cited in the kinds of background checks that someone gets paid to perform. Getting really detailed information usually involves some time and legwork, particularly if the person once lived out of state. This, of course, requires money and few people are willing to do these kinds of checks for free.

In fact, someone who knows their way around a computer and knows what to look for can often do their own free criminal background checks. If a person is primarily concerned whether someone is a convicted sex offender, then the NSOR may answer that question. Checking out an address or property may be as simple as looking in the records at the county tax assessor's office. Wondering how many times someone has been married? Check with the probate judge's office, or county clerk.

For someone who is not conversant in these methods, online free criminal background checks may be the best solutions. However, people need to remember these checks are often not comprehensive and depending on the situation, a person may be better off paying for the service. Peace of mind is worth a great deal.

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