How do criminal records work state by state?

If I have a criminal record in Maryland and no other state and a cop stops me in D.C. and does a check on me, would he be notified that I have a criminal record or not?

In other words, do records work state by state or are they nationwide?


If there’s a warrant out for you in another state, it’s likely the cop will know about it.

If you were convicted of petty theft in 1993 in some other state and are not on probation, highly unlikely.

If you were convicted of a serious misdemeanor or a felony, you may very well have a record in the NCIC database. Some states maintain their own databases, also.

Information on NCIC records:

The Virtual Chase has a pretty good summary of what’s available otherwise on the state and federal levels:

According to a series currently running in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, you could be quite safe with either a criminal record or even current warrants from another state, depending on whether or not your information was entered into the national database, or whether or not the local police check the national database.

From the article:

I’m pretty sure this is the same or similar in every state but I am not 100%. Your criminal history can not be looked up during a motor vehicle stop. In our system it doesn’t work that way and it’s not legal. During a motor vehicle stop in New Jersey what will be looked at is any New Jersey traffic warrants, any New Jersey criminal warrants, your driving record (how many points) and if you have a warrant entered into NCIC. Your criminal history will only be looked up after an arrest. It can not be used as part of probable cause for the arrest but it can and does get used to determine bail.

Thanks, fellas.

:confused: It’s not legal? Why not? What about alerting you if the subject has a felony conviction? We need to know that to make a determination on some things, like possession of a firearm.

The MDT in my squad can show me criminal record and if the person is on probation, parole, or has a felony conviction I get a flashing notice of it. I’m 99.9% certain this covers nation wide. It also shows petty convictions like ordinance violations, but I’m not sure if that includes from all states. Probably not.

pkbites, I’m pretty sure arrest records don’t show up interstate unless it was pretty serious. The cop who stopped me last year for a traffic violation didn’t find anything. (NO, I’m not a felon, though if I’d been caught for some of the things I did, I would be) He DID find a local arrest. A “no harm, no foul” type thing.

I think it depends on whether they’ve got SCMODS. :wink:

There I go assuming things. For one I have no idea how you go about determining anything by prior bad acts. Not during something like a routine motor vehicle stop. But I can see how it can be abused if criminal history pops up whenever you do a random look up. I’ll just assume that our laws are more restrictive due to our strong anti-profiling laws. I assure you I have no way of looking up criminal histories on my MDT. All requests have to be done through the dispatcher and they are very strictly controlled by the state. The only times I routinely get criminal history look ups are when I have to go to a judge for bail or a temporary restraining order.

I didn’t say arrest record. I said convictions. And yes they do.

LOACH, doesn’t your MDT tell you if the subject is a felon or not?

Nope. It says what I mentioned in post 6.

Huh. Ours flashes on the screen “FELONY OFFENDER”. And you can’t make it go away even if you scroll down the screen.