Is your crime still online? Or are you looking for criminal records on someone else? Either way, here’s how to find them, fast, easy and all for free!
Types of Criminal Records
There are two types of criminal records. First there are the official government records from the jails and courts.
These may show whether someone was convicted, pardoned or if their conviction was expunged. Government records often reveal dates of incarceration and the crimes the person was charged with.
But sometimes the government makes mistakes. If you find the government made a mistake about your criminal record, you can provide proof of their error and they will have to fix it.
But there are also other records that exist independent of the government. These include the footprints of government records captured in blogs, newspapers, arrest mugshot sites, and sites that charge for online background checks.
That’s right! Your arrest records could appear in a newspaper even after the charges were dropped. Or you could be pardoned to find that years later, your photo still appears in a commercial mugshot database!
This is a wonderful thing if you’re looking for the crimes of someone else. After all, a person can be morally guilty even when the charges were dropped. It happens all the time. Sometimes there’s political pressure to dismiss the case. At other times, charges are dropped due to legal technicalities.
Would you, for example, hire a shoplifter who had been charged twice but never convicted? Or what about the person who beat a murder rap because of an invalid search warrant? Are these the people you want to bring home to mother? Are these the people you want playing with your kids?
Of course, you may see it differently if you’re the one with the criminal record! In that case you can ask for a retraction.
If you find your record was listed inaccurately, you can reach out to the source and ask for it to be removed. But there’s no guarantee they’ll do so.
Your rights may depend on what was posted, when it was posted and if the source was a blog or newspaper. With newspapers there could be First Amendment concerns over free speech that trump your right to a good name. But that’s a blog for another time and place. Now, let’s get to finding these records!
Searching Criminal Records Can Be Daunting.
The Internet can be daunting when you have no idea where to begin. Pushing through mountains of links, blogs and bad websites can leave you exhausted, lost and discouraged. But there is a method to the madness. And I’m going to show some quick and easy ways to cut through the fat.
So Where Do You Begin?
Step 1: Do A Name Search In The Free National Databases That List Criminal Records
Up until last year, I had no idea that the free ones existed. But they do and I’ve listed them here and below. So keep reading! At the bottom, I’ve included specific websites and how to search within them. Or you can watch the Sleuth For The Truth Video Is Your Crime Still Online?
How Can These Records Help Me?
Often a criminal record search requires you to know the state and county where the crime occurred. This usually coincides with where the person has lived. Sometimes you’ll know this information. But more often than not you won’t. And even then, you can never predict these things.
On the road crimes such as speeding or DUI often happen when passing through other towns. So these national databases are a great help for where to start looking.
To search for someone, simply enter in their name and see if anything comes up. If their name isn’t there, it usually means they have no criminal record-at least not on the state and county level.
But if you find them, it tells you at least someone with their name was in trouble! You’ll know you have the right person based on other identifiers. Usually next to their name is their age along with the state where the crime occurred. (Don’t know their age?
See Age-The First Stop In Any Background Check.)
These records are far from perfect. And the free databases won’t tell you what the crime was. It could be anything from a violent felony to a misdemeanor speeding ticket. But right now, you just want to know if there was a crime at all. And if there was, where did it take place? (Step 2 will help you find out the details)
Make sure to write down the state where the crime occurred. You’ll need it if you immediately choose to look for their Mugshot & Arrest Records. For Federal crimes, see also Federal Prison Records and The Sleuth for Truth Video Let’s Talk Federal Prison.
Step 2: The Free State & County Links
Our next stop is to search for records in the state and county databases. This includes jails, prisons and other county
court records. Below I’ll show you where you can get many of these in one spot.
Step 3: The Google Search
Finally, be sure to Google yourself and others for criminal records mentioned in news articles, blogs, complaints and other sources. See the blog Google Like A Pro. See also People With Common Names-How To Search For Them.
Specific Websites And How To Search Them
Below is a printed version of the YouTube video Is Your Crime Still Online?
National Criminal Database #1
Our first stop for free criminal records is at Checkcourts.com. At the link above, a first and last name will turn up the criminal records associated with it. If you see duplicate names, match the name, age, and location to make sure you have the right person.
So let’s search for criminal records on “Adam Rosen”. To see what states come up, here we’ll enter in only his first and last name, no state and no middle initial. We’ll leave out the middle initial for two reasons. First we may not know it. And second, we don’t want to miss those records which forgot to include it.
A national search brings up 131 hits and will tell you all the states where there are records. States are listed from A to Z. Often you’ll see their age, and middle name or initial included as well.
We could scroll down to see all the states where Adam Rosens have criminal records, but in this case our Adam Rosen only lived in California.
A search in CA shows only 16 records. So by selecting a state, we’ve narrowed it down by 115 records! With proof now that he has a criminal record, we can leave this website and target the state and county records within California. This is what I’ll show you next.
State & County Database #1
Let’s go to blackbookonline.com, a free directory that allows you to search for state and county records in any of the 50 states and DC. Our next Stop: California.
Don’t get lost by all the choices you see. The four main places to search are Arrest Warrants, Court Records, Criminal Records and Sex Offenders. If you’re not sure of the county, you can also click on “City/County Converter” which is above the link for court records.
Here is a sample of what you’ll see when you click on Arrest Warrants. (see video or look at link for results)
When you click on Court Records, you must choose your county. (Video shows samples of what you can find in Marin County.) Sometimes you can even find traffic citations.
On the Criminal Records page, you have a choice of all records or to click on specific types of records. I recommend all types minus the crime maps. If you uncheck to see all counties, you can look for records in specific counties and not get flooded with too much information.
Googling For Criminal Records
Our last stop is the Google search. People tend to Google first. They then get frustrated because they have no way to distinguish their subject from the numerous others with the same name. So for common names, it’s best to Google only once you know their age, middle name, the places they’ve lived and where the crimes were committed.
Below, I’ve included high power search terms most likely to retrieve criminal records. For other terms, look up lookup synonyms for arrests, crimes and convictions. Be sure to Google these as well.
Searching For John Smith:
1. John Smith convicted
2. John Smith arrested
3. John Smith guilty
4. John Smith NOLO
5. “John Smith” conviction (Name in quotes)
6. “John R Smith” charges (Middle initial included)
7. “John Richard Smith” sentenced (Full name in quotes)
8. John Smith sentenced Georgia
9. “John R Smith” sentenced Georgia
10. Name above with felony or misdemeanor
Remember to search with the name in quotes and also without quotes. If your name is a common one, be sure to include a state as well. For more Google search terms, check out the Sleuth for the Truth Blogs & Videos at http://sleuthforthetruth.com.