This article will help you:
- Understand what happens in a Federal Criminal Search
- Decide when to include Federal Criminal Searches in your background check package
The US tries cases in two different courts: state/local courts and federal courts. These are considered to be different jurisdictions and therefore try different categories of cases.
Federal criminal offenses usually fall into the following categories:
- Crimes against federal employees (postal carriers, TSA employees, etc.)
- Crimes committed on federal land (e.g., national parks)
- Bank robberies (all banks are protected by the FDIC, a federal department)
- Commissions of crimes across state lines (e.g., a kidnapping occurring in California which crosses into Nevada, large-scale conspiracies)
- Drug cases involving large distribution network(s)
- Child Pornography (internet allows for transmission across state and country borders)
- Other crimes that fall outside state and local jurisdictions
It can be easy to confuse a Federal Criminal Search with the National Criminal Database. Unlike these other records, federal criminal records are only accessible through a specific federal criminal search.There is no overlap with county or statewide searches, nor with the National Criminal Database search.
The main difference between a federal crime and other crimes is that a federal crime is prosecuted under federal criminal law in federal courts. A county criminal search doesn't return results on the Federal level.
Federal Criminal Searches use the US Federal Government’s PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) criminal record system, which is an online portal used to obtain case information from the 94 Federal District Court jurisdictions.
Searches that uncover a criminal record can take 2-4 days to complete. Because most federal criminal records have all or most personally identifying information (PII) redacted, searches that yield no results are returned almost immediately. All federal criminal information is online, making in-court research unnecessary.