A party can find out the date of a conviction by searching the online database of the court in the county in which the conviction occurred. The party can also call, email or visit the court to get this information. A party can ask his local police department or county sheriff’s office about a conviction date related to a local arrest. If the convicted party has a lawyer, he can ask his lawyer for the conviction date.
What Is a Conviction Date?
A conviction date is the date on which a defendant in a criminal case is found guilty by the court. The court may sentence the defendant on a later date. A defendant is not always taken into custody on the conviction date.
Read More: How to Find Arrest & Conviction Records
Information May Not Be Available
Some states, such as California, do not allow employers to search for a conviction date. Generally, conviction dates for juveniles are not publicly available. A party can find out the date of his sealed or expunged conviction by calling or visiting the court.
A state may keep private certain criminal records, such as those that relate to mental health or fall under the federal Violence Against Women Act. Some states do not make conviction dates and other information about low-level crimes available to the public online. For example, Texas does not provide information online about dispositions for misdemeanors lower than Class B.
What Conviction Dates Are Available?
A party will not be able to ask a court in one county about conviction dates from other courts or states. A party with a federal conviction should search the U.S. Courts Public Access to Electronic Records (PACER) system. A party who wants to find out conviction dates for multiple areas should contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI will not provide the record to anyone other than the subject of the fingerprints that the party must submit with the request.
What Is a Withhold of Adjudication?
In Florida, a defendant with no or very little criminal history may be offered a withhold of adjudication. A withhold is a special sentence in which the court does not convict the defendant of a criminal offense. A party can search for the date of a withhold of adjudication just as he would a conviction. The withhold will be noted in the record of the criminal case.
Getting a Certificate of Disposition
A certificate of disposition is an official court document affixed with a court seal that states what occurred in a criminal case. It contains the name of the defendant, the offense with which she was charged, the conviction date and the sentence. A person applying for a job may be asked to provide a COD for each of her convictions.
A party can get a COD by contacting the court that sentenced her. There may be a fee for this service. A party who is on public assistance may be eligible for a fee waiver. The party may be asked for her birthdate, Social Security number and arrest date.
How Long Is Information Kept?
Criminal records are usually retained indefinitely. When a conviction is later invalidated, some states require that certain types of information, like fingerprints and photographs, be removed. Sometimes a search for a record may not yield the latest information.
When a record is missing a final disposition, the state may query the court for current information. State law determines how long the record may be pending while the court makes this search.
- North Carolina Judicial Branch: Criminal Background Check
- State of California, Department of Justice: Public Records
- Oregon Judicial Branch: How to Find a Case or Court Record
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Criminal History Name Search
- Montana Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation: Frequently Asked Questions
- New Jersey Courts Public Access: Criminal Cases: PROMIS / Gavel Public Access: Welcome
- State of Hawaii, Criminal Justice Database Center: Criminal History Records Check
- New York State Unified Court System: Certificate of Disposition
- Texas Department of Public Safety: About CCH (Computerized Criminal History System)
- Florida Bar Journal: Withhold of Adjudication, What Everyone Needs To Know
- United States Courts: Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Requesting FBI Records
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.