Criminal Record

Criminal Record Definition

A criminal record is a public report of an individual’s entire criminal history. Criminal records can include arrests, moving traffic violations, convictions, acquitted charges, and dismissed charges. It is very important to be aware of one’s criminal record since it can have an impact on employment opportunities and professional licenses.

How Are Criminal Records Tracked in the United States?

At times, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about criminal records in the United States and how important they are. Most criminal records in the United States public record. Criminal records are essentially government documents that have been recorded, filed or written by a member of law enforcement or court official. The way that criminal records are organized in the United States is complex and is outlined below:

Regional Level

The regional level is important for criminal records as it includes local police departments, sheriff offices, and county courts. Typically, these agencies will keep the criminal records in an internal database.

State Level

States have statewide repositories that contain criminal background data from different local jurisdictions within a state. The objective here is to show a record of a criminal’s movements across a larger state and detect patterns.

Federal Level

There is a nationwide database maintained by the federal government. When citizens are attempting to work abroad, particularly as teachers, employers will require a federal background check to ensure that there are no prior criminal records from other states that would not show up on one state’s records.

Are Criminal Records Public or Private?

It is very important to understand that criminal records are often public and can be accessed by contacting law enforcement agencies. Some criminal records can be restricted from access depending on the nature of the records and the regulations of that particular state. Criminal records are often used for security clearances and background checks that are necessary steps for many lucrative employment opportunities in both the public and private sector in the United States. For sex offenders, there are nationwide electronic sex offender registries that are available to the public, which can be quite damaging to employment prospects.

How Are Juvenile Criminal Records Managed?

Juvenile criminal records are records for crimes committed before a person turns 18 years old. Juvenile records are managed differently than adult criminal records since they are not available to the public. There are exceptions to this that depend on the severity of the crime that the juvenile committed. If the juvenile has committed a sex offense, many courts will try them as an adult, and that record will remain on their permanent criminal record.

What Is Expungement?

Many individuals wonder whether anything on their criminal record can be erased. While this is a complex issue, there are certain situations where a record can be eliminated. Expungement is a process that allows individuals convicted of specific crimes to erase criminal records from the public view. It is important to understand that the actual arrest record doesn’t just vanish; however, it cannot be visible to potential employers in a background check. Expungement is particularly helpful to an individual who was charged without finding guilt who wants to clean up their record for better employment opportunities.

Criminal records are something that needs to be taken very seriously. This is particularly important for juveniles who may not know that their crimes could lead to them being charged as an adult and impact their criminal record for the rest of their lives. The rule of thumb with criminal records is that it is wise to avoid anything that could jeopardize your criminal record for employment opportunities. When it comes to expungement, it is best to consult with an attorney before beginning to search for a job to see if expungement is possible and what steps are necessary to expunge one’s criminal record.

Criminal Record Glossary Definition

Criminal records in the United States can usually include convictions, arrests, and even charges that have been dismissed. Employers often request background checks that can pick up on any prior criminal records. It is important for individuals to be aware of the long-term impact that a criminal record can cause in the United States in terms of employment, reputation, and additional criminal offenses committed.