federal criminal record checks

Should I Be Conducting a Federal Criminal Records Search?

federal criminal records searchAbsolutely. A very common mistake organizations make is assuming a national criminal record check and a federal criminal records search are synonymous.  They are not.

Federal vs. State Courts

There are 2 kinds of courts in the U.S.- state courts and federal courts.

State Courts are county, city and municipal courts.  The majority of criminal records in the U.S. are found in the state courts.  i.e. they are crimes against the state.  For example, if a person is convicted of drunk driving, murder or domestic violence, this is almost always a crime against the state (I say almost because there are exceptions to every rule).  So if the crime occurred in Los Angeles, this is a crime against the State of California and the court of record will be the L.A. County Courts.

Crimes against the state account for more than 90% of criminal records.  Some studies have shown this as high as 94-95%.

State courts are included in most “national background checks.”  I cannot provide a definitive without reviewing your screening program because there are a lot of screening firms that peddle cheap database searches which provide a very limited and incomplete search.

Federal Courts are comprised of 89 U.S. District Courts in the 50 states.  Criminal cases in the federal courts deal with violations of the constitution and are investigated by federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, ATF, etc.

Here are some examples of federal crimes:

  • Mail Fraud
  • Kidnapping
  • Tax Evasion
  • Cyber Crimes (online predators, internet fraud, identity theft)
  • Public Corruption
  • Civil Rights Cases (hate crimes, human trafficking)
  • White Collar (bankruptcy fraud, insurance fraud, money laundering, embezzlement)
  • Violent Crime & Major Theft (bank robbery, cargo theft, crimes against children, gangs, drug trafficking)

A federal criminal records search is not always included in a screening package.  In the past, financial institutions were the most interested in federal crimes because of the white collar nature of federal offenses.

However, today we are seeing an increase in the number of federal criminal cases related to the internet including identity theft, online predators and internet fraud.  And as our society has become more transient, the crimes committed across state lines has increased.

So a search that was relegated to certain industries in the past is now a search that should be part of your screening package.  The great news is the federal criminal records search is a very inexpensive addition to your package.

Click here to learn more about Federal Criminal Records Searches.

Top 7 Reasons You Need Federal Criminal Records Search

federal criminal record searchWell, many of you have asked why you need a Federal Criminal Records Search if you are conducting a national criminal background check?  I hear you.  Great question.  Let me try to clear the muddy water on criminal records and the U.S. court structure. The majority of crimes committed in the U.S are crimes against the state like domestic violence, DUI, murder, robbery, etc. For example, let’s say a guy in Nashville, TN decides to rob a convenience store and gets caught.  The crime is against the State of Tennessee and the case is filed in the Davidson County Courts which will be the court of record.  Roughly, 94% of crimes fall into this category.

Now, let’s say our little robber friend from Nashville decides he wants to bypass the convenience store and rob a bank.  Hey, seems like the natural corporate ladder for robbers.  However, he must have flunked robbery 101 because bank robbery is not a lucrative business these days with new technology and dye packs.  But let’s assume he skipped this class.

So he grabs his ski mask and walks into the bank, hands a note to the customer service representative, she pushes a panic button and hands him a bag of cash and a dye pack.  Robber makes it out the door, door is locked electronically, dye pack goes off and police grab him.  Bad day at the office.

And to make things worse, he is handed over to the FBI because robbing a bank is a federal crime.  So this is a crime against the federal government and the case is filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville and the federal courts become the court of record.

No biggie, unless you are the robber and you realize that in federal courts the sentencing guidelines are day for day.  So a 10 year sentences means 10 years in jail.  On the other hand, a trip to the state prison system for robbery would equal 3 years or less because the state awards 2 good days for each day served.

So what are the top 7 reasons you need the federal criminal records search:

  1. Records Not Found in County Criminal or National Criminal Databases.  The federal courts are separate from county and state courts.
  2. Cyber Crimes.  Online predators, internet fraud, identity theft, intellectual property theft, computer intrusions.
  3. Public Corruption.  Government fraud, election fraud.
  4. Civil Rights Cases.  Hate crimes, human trafficking.
  5. White Collar Crimes.  Bankruptcy fraud, corporate/securities fraud, health care fraud, insurance fraud, money laundering, embezzlement.
  6. Violent Crime & Major Thefts.  Bank robbery, cargo theft, crimes against children, gangs, Indian Country crime
  7. It is CHEAP.  This search will not dent your budget.

This search has become more critical in recent years with the proliferation of cyber crimes, child internet solicitation and drug trafficking across state lines.

So what does that mean for me?  Honestly, you need to add the federal criminal search to your background screening package.  It has become a best practice.

Do you have any questions about the federal criminal search?