Where and How To Get a Criminal Background Check

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

May 27 2021

A background check is a useful tool when you want to verify the credentials of a potential hire. 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 will be a positive influence on your workplace.

Navigating through the endless options of internet searches and “free” background checks can leave you confused about which is the best choice for you. 

How to Get a Background Check

A background check can be run through several different sources, but an accredited background screening company is the most thorough, trusted source for pre-employment background checks.

When deciding how to get a background check, consider the other costs of onboarding a new employee. While it might be tempting to lean on free online sources, they often access outdated or incomplete information. Running a thorough background check through a reputable source ensures your onboarding expenses don’t go to waste. 

Learn how to get a background check below.


Free Online Searches

“Free” online background checks are prevalent, but are rarely what they seem. 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 Your searches could be accessing outdated database information.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 missing crucial pieces of an employee’s history, such as very recent criminal infractions. These online searches also frequently misreport criminal records on people who do not have a record, which could cost you an excellent new hire. Using this faulty information can have legal repercussions for your company as well, as there are complex compliance regulations that a background screening partner can help you manage.

The inclination to go online and use a “free” search is understandable. These searches are fine for the purpose of simple curiosity. However, 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 conduct the search for you for a fee.

However, this criminal search will be limited to the county of that court’s office. If any criminal activity occurred in another county, it won’t be discovered. Make sure you visit the correct offices 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 ideal. For this criminal search, you may go to the State Bureau of Investigation.

The State Bureau of Investigation can search of criminal information for all crimes committed in your state. However, not all of the state’s departments 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, the state’s database is often incomplete or not fully 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 fairly accessible. But as an employer you need more than criminal records; you need accurate information. Government-based background checks can lack in certain areas. A third-party screening service will offer numerous additional services that government services are not be able to provide.

In addition to criminal background checks, when considering how to get a background check, look for a partner who can also deliver continuous monitoring, employment verifications, education verifications, drug testing, motor vehicle records, social media screens, and more.

Third-party background check services provide an accurate criminal record search. You want to ensure that you are finding all criminal records associated with your applicant; however, you also want to make sure that all the records you find are actually associated with them and not someone else.

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 and databases across multiple states. Third-party screening companies can also conduct drug tests, 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.

Finally, the right background screening partner will offer additional benefits, like integration with your ATS/HCM, mobile onboarding technology, and stellar customer service


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 them thoroughly.

There are cases where you only need criminal information for a background check and others where you may need a thorough employee screening process. You might choose 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. InfoMart is here to help.

The Comprehensive Background Checks Checklist

Whether you need to screen thousands of employees or small business background checks better fit your needs, it’s likely time to review your background screening process.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 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 30 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 Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA 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 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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