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Under The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, any person has the right to request access to public records: criminal records, arrests & warrants, inmate records, vital records & more.

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How to Find and Access State Criminal Records

State criminal records can provide invaluable information when you're searching for background details on any individual. You may want to access criminal records in your state in order to conduct a background check or ensure your own records are accurate. Many states allow certain details in criminal records to be expunged upon petition and approval, and this may enable you to pursue specific career or educational opportunities in the future. Every state is different and you must research the methods of record keeping in your locality, but most likely will find the records you seek with the local courthouse.


Where to Access State Criminal Records

Most states require a bit of research, time and effort to gather all existing criminal records about an individual. Court records are held at the local courthouse, and arrest records and RAP sheets can be found with the Department of Corrections or local police or sheriff's office. Of course, you must know where these arrests and court appearances took place in order to find them in the correct locale. This may pose a problem when conducting your own criminal record search, but professional services can help you track down records from across the country, too.


Researching Federal Criminal Records

National criminal records may be researched through the FBI, federal Bureau of Prisons and even PACER. The FBI maintains information on absconded and most wanted individuals, and this site may be accessed at The BOP site at allows you to search for an inmate that was held at any federal institution from 1982 onward. Finally, PACER provides federal court records from across the country in real time at You may also check the National Sex Offender Public Website at to see if your subject individual is or has ever been a registered sex offender. This can be an important check if you are hiring someone for childcare purposes, or otherwise giving full access to your home.


Conducting Your Own Criminal Records Search


If you are employing someone and plan to conduct your own background search, you do not need to gain the person's consent to do so. This is only necessary if you plan on hiring an outside individual or company to conduct a formal background check. Meanwhile, you may still search state, local and national databases to see if the person has ever served jail time or been convicted of a serious crime. However, there are some limitations to conducting these searches that vary among the states, so check with your own state government to determine the best way to do so.

For Information on How to Find and Access State-Specific Criminal Records, Please Visit the Following Links:

Alabama Criminal Records

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