As an organization, you understand the value of pre-employment background checks for mitigating risk and providing confidence in hiring.This blog series is designed to help you understand some of the options available to you when you work with a professional background screening company.
Do you really know what you are getting when you order a Statewide Search as part of your employee background checks?
It seems logical to assume that a ‘Statewide Search’ for criminal records means that your background screening company is checking the entire state for criminal records with the name and date of birth you provided. Unfortunately, we can’t always depend on logic when it comes to state courts and how background screening company label their products.
First thing first. Let’s try to simplify where criminal record searches are conducted and why.
When individuals offend against state law, their cases are processed at the county level in the county of the offense. Most counties will have at least two courts that process criminal offenders (example low/high, superior/district), many have more. At some point, information about these cases are sent to that state’s criminal record repository.
There are states that have invested in technology to help streamline and standardize record keeping. This technology helps state repositories stay up to date with the cases sent from the county courts. But others are not
far removed from a manual process, creating gaps in information, not to mention errors as data is transferred.
What does Statewide Criminal Record Search involve?
So, what am I getting when I order a Statewide Criminal Record Search from my background screening company?
Good Question. And one you should ask.
The answer you get will most likely be one of the following.
If you get your results instantly, your screener most likely uses a third party database for their statewide search. Database searches can be helpful for identifying records in areas outside of your county searches. But, because not all states and counties supply information to these date aggregators, and if they do, at varying intervals (monthly, quarterly, one-time), it should be understood that the result you get cannot be considered up-to-date information or a complete statewide search. Records found in a database search should always be backed up with a county search to get the most complete and up-to-date information.
Each state has their own states regarding access to the state repository of criminal records. Some will require special release forms, some fingerprints. There are states that limit access for specific permissible purpose and general employment isn’t always one of them. Your provider can tell you what states allow access and what forms are required.
There are states that have the technology in place to allow access to all county records with one search. This allows a ‘true’ statewide search at the county level, so all records found should be complete and up-to-date.
Ask your provider how they conduct their statewide searches. Unless it is an all-county, real-time search, you will want to order county criminal record searches in the counties of residence and enhance those with a statewide search to expand your search.
cFIRST Employment Background Checks will give you confidence in hiring. We provide the technology and personalized support you need to get your candidates screened fast, without compromising on compliance and quality.Contact us today.