Yes, almost all criminal court records (but not all), are available to the public.
The United States has criminal records that are similar to most other countries.Criminal proceedingsThey are generally considered public. Public court proceedings allow the public and media access to justice in action and are intended to hold the justice systems accountable. This goal is also achieved by public access to court records. However, some believe that this should not be allowed. For the most part, however, anyone can visit a court clerk’s desk (and sometimes on a website of a court or state agency) to search the files for records regarding convictions for a particular person. If you are looking for an answer to how to find past mugshots for free, this is what you need to do.
A court may exempt convictions from public access by allowing them to be sealed. Individuals with Polk County mugshots records can ask the court to review their case in most states.seal (or “expunge”) certain convictions. State requirements vary on how to seal a record. (For more information on sealing criminal records see Nolo’s articleThe Basics of Expungement?.
The FBI, state criminal record offices (or central repository), and courts have databases on criminal history records. Access to these databases is restricted to law enforcement and prosecutors. The public may be granted limited access. A second level of access is possible for employment background checks. The only way to determine if someone has a criminal record was to visit every county in the state. (Or in the entire country, if necessary). However, the internet and sophisticated data gathering have made all this possible.
To find criminal history records, you can still visit the local courthouse and state criminal records office. Many states also offer online access to public criminal history records. As noted, not all records are available to the public. Public information may include the defendant’s full name, the list of convictions (including any statutory citations), sentence (such a probation or incarceration length), as well as fines and other fees. Private (and not easily accessible) information includes the defendant’s social security number, medical records, and any other sensitive data.
Search government records
You can search online for Orange County mugshots history records by entering the name of your state and “criminal record records”. This will often bring up several websites. Look out for records belonging to a state court (judiciary), or a government agency (like a State Bureau of Investigations). Even if the website appears to be official, double-check it. Some states allow online access for no cost, while others require payment. (Physical court records can be viewed at no cost at the courthouse. However, they may charge for copies.
Private search companies
There are likely to be many private criminal background check firms that you will find in your search. There may be a charge for searching criminal history online. It’s important that you understand the workings of these companies and why your information might not be reliable. These for-profit private companies collect conviction records in several ways. They may use the traditional method (by sending people into the courthouse to verify the files), or they might use the Internet to download large quantities of government data in bulk. Even though the initial record information may be accurate, companies sometimes don’t keep it up-to-date with new court orders like expungements, dismissals or acquittals. Companies are not subject to regulation and accuracy of information is susceptible to abuse.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for information on a government site or a private website, but it is important to remember that mistakes can occur and data could be wrong. Private companies are not required to keep their data accurate or up-to-date, as mentioned earlier. Also, government data can be corrupt. A police officer in Manatee County arrests James Smith for drug sales. Inadvertently, the officer attaches the arrest record to the record for another James Smith from New York City. His only interaction with justice is a speeding ticket. James Smith has now been charged with drug sales. He also has one traffic ticket. Identity theft is another way for incorrect data to be entered into the system. Identity theft is when a thief robs a store and steals your wallet. When police ask for identification, the thief will pull out your driver’s permit. You can also have a record removed, but it is possible due to a glitch with the system.
It is important to remember that you cannot always rely solely on information found on websites. A majority of states have a process for hiring people to do a job. The individual must provide fingerprints so that the correct file can be found. Do your research and verify the accuracy of any record you are relying upon.