Criminal Record check in the US

I just started volunteering at the hospital nearby where I live, and needed a criminal record check before they would let me start, including checking to see if there are any issues with me working with children or “vulnerable” adults (my particular volunteer position is highly unlikely to expose me to either, but I think they check all volunteers at the hospital the same way so that they don’t need to do anything more if they change volunteer positions).

All that got me wondering. The criminal code in Canada is federal, so if I had a criminal record (I don’t) it would of necessity be nation-wide. However, you guys have both federal and state criminal law. How do criminal record checks work down there? Are the criminal records in all states automatically checked whenever one is done? If I commit a felony in California and voluntarily have a record check done in West Virginia (for example) will the felony automatically pop up?

If it matters, I am mostly interested in record checks that I voluntarily (more or less) have done, as opposed to the police arresting me and then seeing what other naughtiness I have been up to.

I can only address how civil background checks work in Missouri.

First, for civil purposes, only ‘open’ criminal records are released. Records are open for the first 30 days after the arrest, and remain open for guilty dispositions. Records are also open if the judgement is probation with a suspended imposition of sentence, during the period of probation. If the probation is served successfully, then the charge is no longer public record. Criminal justice practitioners have also have access to closed records, which means that they see every arrest, regardless of disposition.

There are two different systems, or rather I should say that you are correct that each state has its own system, and there is also an index of arrests at the federal level.

While each state maintains its own repository of criminal records, which are generally maintained using fingerprints as the unique identifier, states also submit qualifying arrests to the FBI, who indexes arrests submitted from all states.

So, you can request a criminal history check individually from each state, or you may request one from the FBI, which will report all arrests for the states from whom they have received fingerprints.

Now, the hang-up with that is that the state or the FBI can only report arrests that it has received prints for; so no prints, no arrest record. Also, before the advent of digital imaging fingerprint devices, they (FBI) were notorious for rejecting ink print cards for quality issues. So again, no print, no record.

So, it is conceivable that you may have arrests that do’t show up, because the arresting agency either didn’t submit prints, or submitted crappy ones.

Here we have the NCIC(NCIS?) a national database of public records of arrests, convictions etc. You Canadians have access to it, used at the border to check eligibility for entry. So the answer for the most part is yes to an extent, I shall now stand aside and let the legal eagles give us the details


National Crime Information Center, Capt Kirk. And specifically, the Interstate Identification Index, referred to as “Triple I”. An interesting note about the index is that it is just that; it actually doesn’t house the arrest records themselves. As an index, a query to III merely points the query back to the arresting state, which actually provides the record of arrest when requested.


As an aside, I was impressed when I had my fingerprints scanned digitally! First time I’ve had my prints done that way (I’ve had ink prints done before). That’s quite the gadget!

Here in California, a company called LexisNexis (a division of Elsevier) compiles state and federal criminal records which are available for purchase, though that may have to be done through an approved vendor as I don’t believe just anyone can view the data. I do know that my company uses it, but that may be a Government contracting requirement.

Thank you I could not remember Acronym or its meaning, stoopid South Texas heat has my brain on fire