County Court Criminal Record Searches
ESR performs a primary source jurisdiction hand search of court records in any of the 3,000 plus counties in the United States. Court level access to these records provides the most up-to-date and compliant information possible. Only primary source courthouse searches or government maintained courthouse equivalent sources are used in report preparation. Cases held at the county level include felonies and misdemeanors as well as criminal traffic offenses.
Contrary to popular perception, criminal records are not available by computer nationwide. The FBI database (NCIC) is restricted to employers who have specific governmental authorization, and even that search is subject to various errors. For private employers, the search must be conducted by examining the public records at each individual county courthouse that is potentially relevant. There are over 3,200 courthouses in the US. As with any event that depends upon human accuracy, there is always the possibility of error. In some courts, the court clerk conducts the search and the accuracy depends upon the court clerk.
In addition, some county courts charge an access fee for criminal records ranging from a few dollars to an additional state imposed fee of $65 (subject to change) in New York for a state provided statewide search.
It is important to understand that private employers can only obtain public records, which typically means a record of a court case that has been filed against a consumer. Arrests or cases not resulting in a public record will not be available. In addition, there are numerous laws that limit what a screening firm can report to an employer. Contact ESR for more information.
If a criminal record is located, ESR goes through extensive procedures to ensure that the information is complete, accurate, and up to date, reportable under appropriate laws, and applies to your applicant. Only primary source, on-site courthouse searches, or government maintained courthouse equivalent sources are used in report preparation. An ESR report will include information on the Court, identifiers to show the relationship between the criminal matter and a consumer, and pertinent details about the offense.
However, an employer must make certain they understand all of the rules and limitations about the fair, appropriate, and non-discriminatory use of criminal records. A 2012 Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has laid out in detail the process employers should utilize in order to make sure that criminal records are used fairly. ESR makes extensive material available to clients on the fair and proper use of criminal records. Under no circumstances can an employer automatically reject applicant on the basis of a criminal record.
For more information on ESR County Court Criminal Record Search Services, Contact ESR.