Do I Really Need To Pay For County Or State-level Criminal Search?
Though a multi-jurisdictional search (MJD) sounds impressive, it is not as thorough as it seems. This search is often represented as being a comprehensive search. The fact is, the multi-jurisdictional database search does have limitations, the most important of which is incomplete data (not all records are available, some record sources are not computerized, some states/counties do not sell records, etc.).
Multi-Jurisdictional Searches Have Limitations
The MJD search is a good tool to be used in a comprehensive background check. By definition, it is a database search and therefore can indicate that there is a potential issue but unfortunately, it doesn’t include enough information for an accurate identification.
Employers should know that MJD’s should never be used as a stand-alone product. It’s important to note that compliance dictates that potential hits always be backed up with a county search. A great example is the Sex Offender database which is built into the MJD search.
Guidance For The Best Comprehensive Search
It is highly recommended that you consider a search that adds additional search components – particularly county searches.
For instance, the majority of child sexual abuse and violent crime records are maintained at the county level. Since MJD’s are incomplete, the best method of gathering county criminal records is to request those records directly from the county record-keeper.
The county criminal records search reports felony and misdemeanor convictions within the past 7 years (or longer if allowed), in accordance with FCRA regulations. Note that this search is limited to the applicant’s current county of residence. If the applicant is new to the county or lives/works in an area serving several counties, an organization may request additional counties for a county search. Further, the Social Security Trace will reveal the applicants’ past addresses.
Another case for digging deeper is that very common names may yield many “potential” matches. So, how do you know if you have the correct “John or Jane Doe”? The only compliant way to identify a candidate and report this is if you verify this on a county-level search. In the screening industry, the best way to mitigate risk is to be thorough and entrust your screening program to an experienced CRA that understands compliance and provides reports that are thorough and concise.
In addition to a county search, the federal court search is relevant in identifying arrests and/or convictions for charges related to child pornography, as well as white-collar and financial crimes relevant for screening management and executive candidates. Some employment contracts require federal criminal records searches as an element of a comprehensive screening package. The level of information that can be gained from county and federal searches confirms that merely running an MJD, could put you at risk for negligent hiring and/or negligent retention issues in your future. Remember that all screening companies work slightly differently. Working on screening when you have various departments and needs can often be complex. A screening company such as MyHRScreens can help you tailor your ordering and billing experience, to ensure FCRA compliance.