One of the most asked questions we get is how to search criminal records for free. Whenever questions about obtaining someone’s criminal records come up, the answer is usually the same: it depends.
“Criminal records” can mean different things to different people. For some people, criminal records refers to any violation of the law – from speeding tickets on up. Others might only be interested in misdemeanors or felonies – or perhaps just violent crimes.
Similarly, criminal records can be categorized differently depending on the courthouse, county or state involved in terms of the information they choose to make public. For example, driving records – such as traffic violations, – are generally not available to the public at all in the state of Florida, while virtually all other criminal records are available to the public.
Assuming the type of criminal record you’re looking for is public, the next part of the question is whether the record is available for free. When we think of free information, we often think of the internet, so many times this question really means “can I get criminal records free online?” To that question, the answer is: sometimes, but usually only if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
For example, many states have a searchable sex offender registry that is available for free to the public (though these will typically not provide the specific criminal record to explain the reason a person is on the registry). Other states will allow you to pull a record, but only if you have the actual case number and know the specific courthouse involved – and the records are often not free.
Still other courthouse sites – such as State of California Department of Justice – will allow you to request your own state criminal records, but do not offer a comprehensive search of anyone else (and even your own records cost $25). Even if you’re willing to make a trip to the courthouse, you’re generally in the same boat in terms of criminal record availability and cost (except that some states/courthouses only make records available in person rather than online).
Aside from the obvious limitations of the above options, perhaps the biggest disadvantage is that all of these criminal record searches are limited – at best – to one state only (and, more often, to only one specific courthouse at a time). This means that in order to truly run a complete criminal record check on a person, you’d need to check every courthouse in the US – and you’d have to travel to some of them in person to run a search.
Fortunately, there is an easier way that is available online instantly that costs less than what you’d pay for just one record at a courthouse. You don’t need to know case numbers or specific courthouses – you just need a name and last known city/state of residence and the people finder does the rest.
People finder companies have done the legwork – they’ve literally pulled every available record from every courthouse in the US – and compiled it into a searchable database so that they can find every record associated with a person from every state they’ve ever been in. New records are added daily, so you can be confident the info you get will be up to date. You can even try a free search below to ensure they have records for the person you’re looking for:
Through our partnership with PeopleFinders.com, you'll receive Industry-Leading data by combining over 43 Billion Verified Public Records giving you the most comprehensive Background, Criminal, People, Marriage and Divorce Checks available Online. We receive income from our partnerships.
In addition to criminal records, you’ll also receive an address history, marriage/divorce records, and a list of relatives and friends/associates (who you can also research, if you like). At around $10 for unlimited searches, you just can’t go wrong.
So, if you have searched for criminal records and have got as far as you can for free, then paying a small fee for a people finder search will get you all the background information you need.
Ron is the lead writer for USATrace.com. Ron has over 40 years of experience both as a private investigator and attorney. He brings excellent value to the site with his insite on public records and the changing demographics of people search on the internet. You can contact Ron via email@example.com.