Where To Get a Criminal Background Check?

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

March 15 2017

A background check is a beneficial tool when you want to verify the credentials of a potential hire or just want to check your own criminal history. As an employer, conducting a criminal background check on future employees is an excellent way to ensure that your future hires not only have a clean history, but can help determine if they will be a positive influence on your workplace.

However, navigating through the endless options of internet searches and “free” background checks can leave you confused about which is the best choice for you. To help, here are a few places you can go that will assist you with your criminal background check:

Free Online Searches

“Free” online background checks are very prevalent, but aren’t what they seem. These searches embody the “buyer beware” concept.
Not every courthouse, state or municipal, shares its records online. Your searches could be accessing outdated database information. This means that the final report you receive may be inaccurate and missing crucial pieces of an employee’s history, such as recent criminal infractions. Additionally, online searches frequently misreport criminal records on people who do not have a record whatsoever. Using this online erroneous information can have legal repercussions.

The first inclination to go online and use a free search is understandable. Free searches are fine for the purpose of curiosity. However, for hiring purposes or as the basis for a business decision you should seek alternative options.


County Superior Court or Sheriff’s Office

You can start your search by visiting your local superior court. The court clerk or any centralized office of law enforcement will likely be able to provide you a criminal record search report for that county, as infractions should be archived and accessible. The office clerk may be able to conduct the search for you for a fee.

However, this criminal search will be limited to the county of that superior court’s office. If any criminal activity occurred outside that county, it will not be discovered in this background check. Make sure you visit the correct office when starting your search.


State Superior Court or Sheriff’s Office

In many cases, a county search isn’t sufficient to perform a successful background search. Widening your scope to include multiple counties is best and you may go to the State Bureau of Investigation for this criminal search.

The State Bureau of Investigation is a search of criminal information for all crimes committed in your state. However, not all state’s department of public safety, police forces and courts contribute criminal record information to a centralized state database. This type of search will give you a broader range criminal search; however many times the state database is not complete or not consistently updated.


A Third-Party Background Check Service

Obtaining a criminal search isn’t difficult. From free online criminal searches to government record sources, criminal background checks are easily assailable. But as an employer you need more than a search of criminal records; you need accurate criminal information to base your hiring decisions. Government-based background checks, the criminal records obtained from public records, do provide criminal information, but can lack in other areas. A third-party screening service will offer numerous additional services that government services may not be able to provide.

Third-party background check services provide the criminal record search that can relied upon to be accurate criminal information. Not just that past criminal records are reported on ex-offenders, but that criminal records are not reported, falsely associating a criminal record with a non-associated partners.

Third party background check services have the expertise and experience to know the depth and reliability of court and state criminal record searches.

These services handle criminal history checks from all levels, database, county and state level and across multiple states. Third-party screening companies can also conduct drug testing, credit checks, social media searches and other reliable resources for vetting your potential job candidate. Screening companies even have the resources necessary to conduct post-hire screening.


Find the Right Service

By knowing the criminal history of any potential employee, you can mitigate the risk of your company being involved in a future crime. Hiring decisions can make or break a company, so get to know the people you are considering by vetting thoroughly.

There are cases where you only need criminal information for a background check and others where you require a thorough employee screening process. You may need the versatility of a professional screening service or prefer the simplicity of going to your local court.

It is important to find the right background check service for your business, so you can hire the best candidate for your company. Make sure you find the service that best fits your company’s background check needs.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart over 28 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for over 28 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, and they have achieved NAPBS accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 40 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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