How to Check If a Misdemeanor Is on Record?

By Hannah Maarv - Updated June 05, 2017
Man doing internet research on laptop

In recent years, court websites in most states have made it possible to search criminal records from your home. However, states function independently of each other, and there is no one location where you can look up if a person has a misdemeanor on record anywhere in the country. You will have to check the court website in every state where the person might have committed a misdemeanor. A few courts do not make their basic criminal records available online. If this is the case for your suspected location, you will need to call the court and speak to the clerk about obtaining the information through mail correspondence.

Gather Information

Obtain as much personal data as you can about the person whose record you are looking for, particularly if the person's name is common. With common names, you are likely to need the date of birth as well. Try to confirm that the name of the person you know is in fact their legal name. If you have the opportunity to see the person's drivers license, the information you need will be there.

Explore the Court Website

Different court websites place the link to court records in different places on the website. The link will likely use the word "records" or "dockets" and it is likely to be on the bottom of the page. If you cannot find the link, it is possible that the court does not provide this service. Call the court clerk to confirm. Misdemeanor court records can be filed under criminal cases. When searching, try a few different spellings of the name if the obvious spelling does not yield results. Baby name websites often provide alternative spellings for names.

Obtain the Information by Mail

If the court records are not available on line, the court is required to provide the information by mail. The clerks office may require a small processing fee for this service. Some court clerks also require that the request be made in writing. In the letter include as much identifying details as you know and ask the court clerk's office to send you the criminal docket on the that person. Also, include proper payment for the processing fee in the envelope.

About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Hannah Maarv has been a writer and a researcher since 2006. She specializes in law, culture and religion. Her articles have appeared online at Womenslaw and Patheos. Maarv holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology from Rutgers College and a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School.

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