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 crimes differ from other crimes in that a federal crime is prosecuted under federal criminal law in federal courts. A county search does not return results on the federal level.
Federal criminal records are accessible only through a specific federal search. There is no overlap with county or statewide searches, or with the national search.
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 that 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
Searches that uncover a criminal record can take 2-4 days to complete. Because most federal records have all or most personally identifying information (PII) redacted, searches that yield no results are returned almost immediately. All federal information is online, making in-court research unnecessary.
Conducting the federal search
Checkr first conducts a search of the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database, which is the central repository for all publicly accessible federal cases nationwide. The database relies on name-based searches and provides no means to search using other identifiers (such as SSN or DOB). Primary and alias names are searched separately.
To ensure a comprehensive range of returned records, Checkr does not require exact name matching for the initial PACER search. This results in a broader set of potential matches.
Candidates whose initial PACER search returns no results receive a Complete federal search, and no additional federal search is conducted.
For candidates whose searched name returns at least one potential match, Checkr’s researchers conduct secondary searches to look for additional identifiers within the record file. These searches are conducted at the federal district court level to ensure that all potential cases identified are thoroughly investigated, in order to determine whether the case record belongs to the candidate.
Because of the relatively limited amount of personally identifiable information (PII) included in federal record files, and the non-standardization of such data, these records undergo an additional level of review. When cases returned by researchers do not meet Checkr’s strict PII matching criteria to be included in the report, they are further reviewed by Checkr’s Quality Assurance (QA) team. If QA determines that there are not sufficient identifiers, they will conduct additional public searches to determine if any may be found.
The federal search must be run in conjunction with the basic report package. The federal search is unavailable as a standalone search.
Candidates will be asked to provide personally identifiable information (PII), including their full name, date of birth, social security number, email address, and phone number.
They will then be presented and asked to acknowledge receipt of applicable forms and notifications, including a Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and an Acknowledgement and Authorization for Background Check.
After the candidate consents, Checkr will initiate the search.
If you've applied for a job and are looking for more information on your background check’s status or progress, please log into the Checkr Candidate Portal.