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Criminal Records of New York State

Article by Elizabeth Arson-Hodge

Obtaining New York criminal records online has become common practice indeed. It is done for a wide range of reasons, from employment screening to checking out new neighbors. There are also various options for conducting NY criminal record checks. We could go online, on site computers, telephone, mail, fax or in-person inquiry. These can be done DIY or through information brokers or investigation services. But which is the best approach and just how fool-proof are the results of the checks?

As with many other things, it is important to understand the coming about of the findings in order to utilize the information appropriately. To start with, we must take note that there are thousands of databases in the country from which public record vendors can possibly source their information. Not only are these not linked nor networked, they are not standardized. A lot of them are private and privileged, thus making them inherently difficult to authenticate, verify or regulate.

Also, the laws on background record access and use vary from state to state. It is necessary to heed the nitty-gritty when the information is utilized in official context, for example by employers, academia and so forth. The records may also be categorized differently because of respective state laws. Even the treatment of the information varies in terms of whether it is public records, under the authority of which public office and the requirement and procedures to follow in obtaining them.

Criminal Records Online

While we can be relatively sure that every criminal indictment or incarceration is recorded somewhere, we are not so certain about its actual location. Firstly, there is no such thing as a central database that is complete with all the public background records. Perhaps very highly classified governmental agencies in enforcement and security would have something close to that but it would likely be illegal to access or make use of its information without official approval. What this means is ‘no record’ does not mean clean record. Say if a county record has not been uploaded onto the state-level database, we have an escapee.

What about expunged or sealed records, infractions and pardons? To be sure, they too can be searched, but not by way of typical New York criminal records search. The onus is on us to adopt the right perspective and interpretation of findings lest the due diligence activity backfires on us instead. We all know the potential damage of misplaced trust and judgment, much less a false sense of security.

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