The United States (US) federal courts have jurisdiction over the United States government, the Constitution, and federal laws. Federal courts try crimes under federal criminal law.
Accessing federal records requires a federal record search. Federal criminal information is online, so in-court research is usually unnecessary. Most federal records redact all or most personally identifiable information (PII).
Some federal offenses include the crimes below:
- Bank robberies
- Child pornography (possession, production, trafficking)
- Crimes against federal employees
- Crimes committed on federal land
- Crimes that cross state lines
- Drug cases involving large distribution networks
- Other crimes outside state jurisdictions
County and statewide searches don’t return federal records.
Checkr first searches the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database, the central repository for publicly accessible federal cases. PACER allows name-based searches but doesn’t allow searches using other identifiers, such as Social Security number or birth date. Checkr limits PACER searches to the states relevant to your candidate’s address history.
To ensure a comprehensive range of returned records, Checkr doesn't require a candidate’s exact name for the initial PACER search. What happens next depends on what PACER finds:
- At least one potential match: Checkr researchers complete the search by accessing the record at the federal courthouse.
- No match: Checkr does a complete federal search, with no additional searches.
Federal searches can find the information below if publicly available:
- Case number
- Charge type (such as felony or misdemeanor)
- Court jurisdiction
- Defendant’s name
- Disposition (such as guilty or dismissed)
- Disposition date
- Sentencing information
You can add federal search to a background check search package from the Checkr Dashboard.
Federal searches that find no records finish almost immediately.
Federal searches that find a record can take two to three days to complete.
Play the Checkr Academy video below to learn the advantages and limitations of a federal search.
The candidate provides the relevant PII below:
- Birth date
- Email address
- Full name
- Phone number
- Social Security number (SSN)
The candidate then reads and acknowledges receipt of applicable forms and authorizations:
- A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
- Disclosure Regarding Background Investigation
- Other state and required disclosures as applicable
- Authorization for a background check
After the candidate consents in writing, Checkr starts the search.
If you applied for a job and want to know your background check’s status, log in to the Checkr Candidate Portal.