Criminal Records Online: Where to Find Them for Free

Author: Chad Kiser

Free Criminal Records Search Tutorial

In any thorough investigation about a person's background, verification of records of criminal activity, if any, is part of the modus operandi. The highly computerized environment of the present Information Age makes such inquiries both expedient and comprehensive with online criminal records.

There are numerous websites, some given below, which offer extensive databases of records of criminal activity. One thing to keep in mind is that the data may only relate to convictions. There is no central nationwide criminal database open for general viewing. The closest thing to free online public criminal records database is the FBI Criminal database, although it is not allowed for unrestricted access.

An online index of criminal data and a register of excluded persons is available on the US Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) website - BXA.doc.gov. The register is kept so that they can 'prevent the illegal export of dual-use items before they occur'. It also aids in researching, probing and examining offenders of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the Fastener Quality Act (FQA). While this register is not an authorized one, these online criminal records are still useful as the data can assist you in screening out undesirable, debarred or unlawful persons.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has only just made public its database of records of criminal activity on its website, BOP.gov. The Bureau has in its charge the detention, supervision and care of Federal prisoners, and keeps therefore, a comprehensive and important collection of criminal records in its online database. Information regarding sentenced prisoners presently serving in Federal institutions or those free from 1982 onwards is also available online. The website offers an Inmate Locater tool to trace any federal convict imprisoned from 1982 to the present day.

The website maintained by the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls - PMDTC.org -offers a collection of online criminal records of those disqualified individuals, agencies or institutions convicted for conspiring to violate or for violations under the arms export control act. These persons or entities, disqualified under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), are listed on the DTC website highlighting criminal records. Because of their sentence, such entities are bound by 'statutory debarment' under section 38(g) (4) of the AECA and section 127.7 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

One of the most comprehensive websites offering databases of online criminal records is PACER - Pacer.USPCI.UScourts.gov - which while not free, is extensive and accurate. The fees are quite reasonable and the information makes it worthwhile. A catalog of federal filings in courts, including bankruptcy, appellate and federal district courts is maintained by PACER.

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