This article will help you:
- Understand what happens in a National Criminal Database Search
- Decide whether to act upon information from a National Criminal Database Search
Checkr runs a National Criminal Database search as a routine step in background checks. This search queries 1,800 databases and over 30 million records, to cast a wide net and find potential offenses. However, the records returned are often incomplete, lacking identifying information and/or the final disposition of what actually happened -- for example, whether the case was dismissed. Instead, we use the he National Criminal Database Search to quickly find other records that should be searched for more detailed information. Checkr uses hits from this search to determine which county records should be searched for criminal records, including felonies, misdemeanors, and some infractions and traffic records.
The National Criminal Database contains over 33 million records from various county and state agencies covering roughly one third of the United States. Data aggregators scour these county and state agencies, continuously updating the database. This database can be best described as a “pointer” database search, in that it points to other potential criminal records that may exist for a candidate. Because the national database search often provides incomplete or inaccurate data, we recommend that you pair it with county-level searches, which are more thorough. This search is used in virtually every criminal background check package to find additional “hits.” Once a “hit” is identified, Checkr dispatches researchers to the county where the national criminal search shows a possible record to obtain:
- Additional identifiers to confirm it belongs to the individual in question
- Complete and up-to-date case information (e.g., disposition, status)
Important: A National Criminal Database search is not the same as a Federal Criminal search. See our article on the differences between a national search and a federal search.