Criminal Background Check FAQ

Criminal Background Check FAQ

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If you would like to dispute information reported on you or request a copy of your report, please visit our Consumer Assistance page.

A Consumer's Guide to Criminal Records

If you are a renter or consumer, looking at the criminal section on your background report and are utterly confused, don’t worry! We’re here to help. Take a look at some of the frequently asked questions and our answers below.

Each court jurisdiction controls what data fields are stored and how much information will be provided for commercial use. Records given by different jurisdictions might vary, however, you’ll see conviction records.

An arrest is an action by a police officer in taking a person into custody on suspicion of having committed a criminal violation. An arrest record does not indicate if the person is guilty. Nor does the arrest always result in the person being taken to jail. 

A conviction occurs when there has been a factual adjudication of guilt. This can happen through a jury trial with (depending on the county) 12 jurors or by a judge in a court trial. Guilt can also be established if the defendant pleads guilty to the criminal charge.

If you see that it is a “pending matter,” that means an arrest is still pending in court.

Yes, most criminal court records are public records. However, there are circumstances in which a record could be expunged (removed from public record) or sealed. Additionally, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database is maintained by the FBI and is not available for public viewing. Records within this database can only be accessed by an approved local, state, or federal law enforcement agency.

Maybe. Some states allow criminal conviction records to be expunged (removed from public record) or sealed. However, typically the judge would need a valid reason. Some circumstances in which a record was sealed are if the offender was a minor, they successfully completed their sentence, if it was their first offense, and/or if they have not reoffended within a period of time.

No, criminal records are not on your credit report. Property managers and landlords can only see criminal records via the background check provided by a resident screening company. 

No. Evictions are civil cases, which is a different division from the criminal courts. It is possible for a criminal case to run concurrent with a housing civil case and for both to have similar elements (for example, selling illegal substances within their rental unit). However, they would be two separate cases.

Yes! Contemporary Information Corp.’s multi-jurisdictional search covers 50 states + Washington D.C. of available criminal sources and incorporates other criminal scans like the sex offender registry. 

Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act § 605.a, criminal records are reported for 7 years. In some states/counties, it can be a reduced period of time. However, with databases, like the sex offender registry, it could be longer. Any other state and local restrictions on the reporting and use of criminal records will be addressed with our proprietary Regulatory Matrix

What About Housing Court Records?