Your “trust your gut” instincts are kicking in, and you've begun to wonder if the person you're talking to online is who he says he is. Or, he could be applying for a job at your company or to rent your apartment. You want to double-check his credentials to find out if he has a criminal background. Often, you can find out if someone is on probation, is a sex or drug offender, or even if he has a prison record.
Much of the information is available at no charge, and this is where your search should begin.
Probation Reports Are Public Records
Public records are just that – available to the public and without a fee. Your local police station or county courthouse houses most of the information you need to determine if a specific person is on probation. Start with a telephone call and follow up with an online search. A successful search has you speaking with a parole officer and answering your questions as to the parolee’s offense, his reliability and any background information you may need.
Free Probation Records
Start locally and access the probation records for your county by searching the county court website. Once you enter the person’s name, any court action taken against him will appear, along with the records of the case and its disposition. If the party is reporting to a probation officer, that information is divulged.
If no information appears, you may need to backtrack the individual’s location, perhaps to another county or state. The more immediate information you have, the better your chances of finding the information you seek.
Do a State-by-State Search
If you need to check a person’s background beyond your county and state borders, national databases are available. A clearinghouse of information, state records indicate arrests, indictments, pending dispositions and convictions that have been gleaned from all the county records throughout each state. In addition, they have links to the sex offenders’ database and even traffic-related incidents.
A statewide parolee information database is also linked through the state database. If the subject of your search has successfully completed her parole, that information will be revealed. If not, the name of her parole office is given along with their contact information.
Search the Offender Network
Many states have a database originating with their Department of Corrections. Once you locate your state network through the internet by typing in “Offender Network” and the name of your state, enter all the information you have on the person, and his status should appear.
Fee-Based Records Searches
Several fee-based searches are available online. Research them, read their reviews and determine if the information you can get is worth the fee. Only do this if the free searches do not yield enough information.
Fee-based data companies compile information from a variety of sources and funnel the information into one complete report. The person being investigated is not aware that a search is being done, and all the details are confidential. A month-to-month subscription is the usual charge for these services.
No background search is 100 percent accurate, but the fee-based companies go an extra step in identifying their subjects by using social media for information-gathering. These services are vital if you need more information than if the person is on probation.
Hire a Private Investigator
Another avenue for uncovering background information is to hire a private investigator. This is a costly venture and should be undertaken only if you are concerned about your safety or financial situation. Contact the local police if issues exist that put you in jeopardy.