How to Obtain a Criminal Record Search Free of Charge

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Criminal records are a history of an individual’s criminal background. They can divulge a lot about an individual’s character. Many people now seek these records before extending employment, leases, loans, or even before dating someone. In positions that require the person to work with children, such as babysitters, nannies, and teachers, potential employers more frequently have an interest in obtaining the criminal records. You can easily do a criminal record search free on any person with whom you may enter into a professional or personal relationship.

State Criminal Record Searches

Contact the criminal division of your state’s Department of Justice and/or Department of Law & Public Safety. You may also be able to find the criminal division online by visiting your state’s official website. Draft a written request that includes the individual’s full name, address, and date of birth.

You should provide a social security number (if you have it) and include the reason for your request, for example, employment. Then, sign the bottom of the document.

Submit the request for criminal records of the individual you want to research through the division. You may be required to notarize your request before it will be accepted. Some states, including Arkansas, also require you to obtain permission from the individual before you perform a criminal background check.

You May Need to Pay Copying Fees

Pay any applicable copying fees. Although the request for a criminal record search is free, you will need to pay any fees for copying the records. The cost is typically low. You can also check your state’s criminal division online to see if they offer an online criminal record database. This will allow you to review and print criminal records free of charge from home.

Free Criminal Record Searches Online

Check your state and local laws for criminal records searches first. Remember that some states require you to obtain permission from the individual you want to research before you can review his or her criminal records.

Visit an online criminal records database that offers free criminal background information, like or Enter the full first and last name of the individual for whom you want to obtain a criminal background. If it is a common name, you may also want to include the full address, city, and state where the individual lives. Keep in mind that you may only receive records from crimes that were committed in that state if you narrow your search that way.

Search the database for any criminal records. To ensure that you find all possible criminal records, repeat the search for every state in which the individual previously resided.


  • In addition to performing a criminal record search, you may also want to search for the individual on your state and the national sex offender registry.



About the Author

Carrie Ferland is a practicing civil litigation defense attorney in the Philadelphia Area. As an author, her work has been featured in various legal publications for over 10 years. Ferland is a 2000 graduate of Pennsylvania State University and completed her Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration with the Dickinson School of Law. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in English.