Criminal Background Investigations

The best way to understand your applicants’ criminal history is to ask them.

However, because applicants are not always forthcoming with honest and complete answers about past bad behavior, it is critical for employers to run a criminal background check to verify applicants’ claims.

Imperative offers a number of criminal background investigation packages to meet every employer’s risk-tolerance and budget concerns.

Our most common criminal background investigation packages are outlined below but we are always glad to help you design a program that meets your specific needs.

Criminal Background Investigations can include

1. Advanced Identity Research
This review of information from consumer reference files is used to identify names and addresses potentially associated with your applicant. Our trained analysts use our internal best-practice guidelines to determine under which names and in which jurisdictions criminal research should be conducted.

This is not verification that the information provided by the applicant matches the records of the Social Security Administration or any government entity.

Because the information found in consumer reference files comes from a variety of sources and often contains errors, the information from consumer reference files are not included in our reports. The appearance of unexpected names or jurisdictions in research should not be assumed to be due to fraud by the applicant.

If the provided applicant information is inconsistent with the information in consumer reference files, Imperative will place the report on hold and contact the applicant to verify the information provided.

2. Multijurisdictional Criminal Records Database Search
Sometimes referred to as a “national” or “nationwide” criminal history search, this database contains millions of records from counties and states across the country, sex-offender registrations from all fifty states, the Office of Foreign Asset Control’s (OFAC) list of identified terrorists and other international criminals (often referred to as the Patriot Act search) and other sources.

Some states make only limited information available for inclusion in this database. Our experience is that this database will yield about 50% of the records we would otherwise find by conducting our standard county-level criminal records searches. However, the database is useful because it identifies potential records in counties where research otherwise might not have been conducted.

To comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s requirement that we ensure maximum possible accuracy, any records found in the database will be verified with the originating county prior to being reported to our client.

3. County-level Misdemeanor and Felony Criminal Records Searches
The best source for criminal records are the actual criminal case indices of the local court clerks in the jurisdictions where an individual has lived, worked, or attended school. 98% of the records we report to our clients originate at the county level. (The remaining records come from the federal district courts.)

We will search the criminal records of each county associated with the individual in the past ten years, as determined during Advanced Identity Research. Each search will cover a minimum of ten years of criminal records in that jurisdiction – most will cover much longer periods. However, some states prevent background screening companies from reporting certain cases due to age or outcome. Some jurisdictions also prevent employers from accessing certain information.

The overwhelming majority of courts’ records are not available online, which means that we must send researchers into the county courthouses to conduct hands-on research of their records.

4. State-level Criminal Records Searches
This search of the available statewide criminal records databases, prison records, and sex offender registries sometimes identifies criminal records in jurisdictions that would not have otherwise been included in our research efforts.

5. Federal District Criminal Records Searches
While federal court records account for only 2% of the criminal records we report to our clients, they are always items of interest. Federal court cases include bank robbery, insurance fraud, interstate drug and gun crimes, and kidnapping.

Because of the federal courts’ limitations on conducting research, possible records sometimes take several days to confirm. On rare occasions, it may take several weeks to determine if a record found belongs to the subject of the report.

6. USDOJ National Sex Offender Public Website Search
The US Department of Justice has built a gateway to the internet-based sex offender websites of all 50 states and a number of US territories.

While this single search touches dozens of sex offender databases, it is important to realize that each state has its own registration requirements—what requires registration in one state may not require registration in another. Additionally, many states restrict which registered offenders are listed on their public website.

Finally, many sex offender records on these websites do not include dates of birth or other identifiers with which to match the person listed to the applicant. Often, numerous records are found that cannot be confirmed or eliminated. This may require additional research and expense to determine if the suggested registrations are associated with your applicant. In order to save time and money, Imperative will conduct follow up research in the states associated with the individual’s known residence history.

7. National Wants and Warrants Search
This search identifies extraditable arrest warrants that have been reported by local, state, and federal authorities to the FBI. Many, if not most, warrants are not reported by local authorities. When a record is found, a search of county, state, and federal criminal records may be conducted to help identify additional relevant information.

1. Critical Criminal Background Investigation

Our best-practice criminal background solution for professional and managerial employees as well as those in high-risk positions with access to the customer homes or workplaces, removable company assets or accounts, customer or consumer information, or vulnerable populations.

This is our benchmark criminal background investigation. However, the age of criminal records, local courts’ record retention rules, and errors in the recording and indexing of records by court clerks can make it very likely that some criminal history information may go unreported. Contact us if you need a more thorough search—we have options!

Includes:

Advanced Identity Research
Multijurisdictional Criminal Records Database Search
County-level Misdemeanor and Felony Criminal Records Searches
State-level Criminal Records Searches
Federal District Criminal Records Searches
USDOJ National Sex Offender Public Website Search
National Wants and Warrants Search

2. Diligent Criminal Background Investigation

Our solution for moderate-risk positions. This investigation identifies 96% of the criminal records identified in our most thorough standard criminal background investigation, the Critical Criminal Background Investigation.

This investigation will miss criminal cases prosecuted in the federal courts (bank robbery, interstate drug crimes, child pornography, human trafficking, insurance fraud, etc.), some sex offender registrations, and some misdemeanors and felonies outside of the research scope.

Includes:

Advanced Identity Research
Multijurisdictional Criminal Records Database Search
County-level Misdemeanor and Felony Criminal Records Searches
State-level Criminal Records Searches
Federal District Criminal Records Searches
USDOJ National Sex Offender Public Website Search
National Wants and Warrants Search

3. Basic-Plus Criminal Background Investigation

Our solution for low-risk positions with limited or no access to the public, vulnerable populations, assets, accounts, or valuable information. This package identifies approximately 76% of the criminal records identified in our most thorough standard package, the Critical Criminal Background Investigation.

This investigation will miss criminal cases prosecuted in the federal courts (bank robbery, interstate drug crimes, insurance fraud, etc.), some sex offender registrations, and some misdemeanors and felonies outside of the research scope. This investigation is just as likely to miss a serious felony record (e.g., sexual assault, murder) as a minor misdemeanor (e.g., theft by check, open container violations).

Includes:

Advanced Identity Research
Multijurisdictional Criminal Records Database Search
County-level Misdemeanor and Felony Criminal Records Searches
State-level Criminal Records Searches
Federal District Criminal Records Searches
USDOJ National Sex Offender Public Website Search
National Wants and Warrants Search

Comparison Table

Basic Basic-Plus Diligent Critical

Search scope

7 years

Minimum of 10 years Imperative will search a minimum of ten years of each courts’ records but many courts’ primary computer index go even further back. We will report everything that we find that can legally be reported under the FCRA or applicable state laws.

Thoroughness As compared to the Critical Criminal Background Investigation, our most thorough standard criminal report.

22% Because this report only includes criminal cases disposed within the past seven years, it will miss most of the records included in our most thorough report, the Critical Criminal Background Investigation, which reports all convictions regardless of age. Generally, we find that when the seven-year limitation is not applied, the criminal records database identifies about half of the criminal cases identified in the Critical report.

76%

96%

Benchmark

Standard completion time

Instant, if no records found

3 business days

Content:

Basic Identity Research

Advanced Identity Research

Criminal Records Database

County-of-Residence Criminal Research

Criminal Research in Last 10 Years’ Counties

State Criminal Record Repository and Sex Offender Research Most state’s sex offender registries are included in the criminal records database, as well, though it may not reflect all current registrations

Federal District Criminal Research

Due to the very high fees for access to criminal records charged by the State of New York, an additional fee of $95 per name researched plus a $4 processing fee will be added for any New York research. As this will not be apparent until after you have paid for the background investigation and your applicant’s identity research has been completed, we will contact you for authorization and payment before proceeding with any New York research.

This report is typically completed within four business days, dependent on when the individual who is the subject of the report completes the required paperwork.