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County vs. Statewide Criminal Searches

Posted in News Articles on 12/04/2009

We have received questions from clients –
What is a better criminal search – a county or a statewide?
Why should I do a county search when I can do a statewide?
What is the difference between these searches?

County and statewide criminal searches are still the backbone of any background check, but they each pose their own strengths and weaknesses.  The simple definition of each one is that a county search only covers a single county and the statewide covers an entire state.  Unfortunately, those definitions do not give the whole picture.

County criminal searches are available for every county across the United States and are updated daily.  A county search includes all felony convictions and can also include misdemeanor convictions.  County searches do not contain any federally prosecuted crimes.

Statewide searches can vary widely from state to state.  Some states have excellent searches where all jurisdictions report all convictions and are updated daily.  Some states have good searches where all jurisdictions report, but not as frequently.  Some states do not include every county or update their records on a regular basis, and there are some states where a statewide search is just not available.

So, what is the best search for your company?  The answer depends on where you and your applicants are located.  If you are located in one of our excellent or good states, then a statewide search may be the most cost effective solution for your company.

Why do a county search when a statewide is available?  If the state is not one of the better ones, then you may be missing sections of the state or not getting the most up-to-date information that is available.  Statewide searches in those cases can be a good supplement to your background check, but the county search will provide the most up-to-date information available.

BackTrack keeps track of the states who offer better searches, and working with your BackTrack Team Manager, we can guide your company to those states.  Interested in getting the best value for your money on criminal searches, contact BackTrack at 800-991-9694.