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What States Don’t Share Criminal Records

Richard Grey - April 29, 2024

Criminal records are an important part of someone’s public record profile. When someone runs a background check, whether it is an individual, the government, or an employer, criminal records are one of the first bits of information that they look for.

While criminal records can be held in federal databases for serious crimes, minor violations, misdemeanors, and even some felonies are held at the state level. Most states share criminal records with one another as part of the background check process but this isn’t always the case.

So, what states don’t share criminal records? The short answer is that most states will gladly hand over records if they’re requested. However, some states might put up more of a fight or not send over someone’s transcript at all. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how criminal records are shared across states.

What Is a Criminal Record?

Before we jump into the states that don’t share criminal records, it’s important to discuss what a criminal record actually is. This is because the definition might change based on who you ask.

For example, some agencies or states might not include sex offender records on a criminal record, while other states might put in a sex offender registry. Still, understanding criminal records isn’t complicated. Essentially, they’re a collection of records about someone’s criminal history.

Criminal records can include crimes that were committed, when they were committed, and the details of the crime. Additionally, some states might even reveal people who were impacted by crimes and proceedings of court cases – this will vary based on the state and the nature of the crime.

On the other hand, some states may limit your view of someone’s criminal history unless you run a background check that specifically looks into someone’s criminal history.

Criminal records can also be found across many different states or in federal databases, depending on the severity of the crime. For this reason, it’s important to be thorough when running background checks.

What Information Shows Up on Criminal Records?

What shows up on a criminal record depends on the state and the person’s background. Sometimes, nothing will show up in someone’s criminal record because they haven’t committed any crimes. On the other hand, some criminal records will include detailed information about where a crime took place, those impacted, and much more.

We list the information you’ll find in someone’s criminal records below:

  • When a crime occurred; date and time down to the minute
  • Where a crime occurred; location, description of area
  • Any interactions with law enforcement personnel
  • Tickets, violations, and some driving records
  • Misdemeanor and other offenses
  • Felonies
  • Jail sentences
  • Probation records
  • The type of crime that was committed
  • Court decisions about the crime
  • Future court dates
  • Pending court dates
  • Names of victims and perpetrators

Some states will limit the type of information found in criminal records searches, so it varies based on where the crime happened and the state that it was in.

Who Can Look at Criminal Records?

Since criminal records are public unless they’re sealed, just about anyone can look at someone’s criminal records. That said, the most common entities to look for someone’s criminal records include courts, state and local governments, employers, and the federal government.

Some schools and other institutions may also consider a criminal record but this varies based on the organization. Ultimately, criminal records are usually only considered when someone is applying for a job or educational program.

Can States Share Criminal Records?

States can share criminal records. They share criminal records freely, in most cases, so there aren’t many limitations about what can be shared across state lines. It’s also important to note that many violent felonies are kept in the FBI database; this is what background checks access when they run your fingerprints. For this reason, you don’t have to wonder if states share criminal records if one of the crimes you committed resulted in you getting booked.

Still, states will share criminal records when they’re requested to do so; there’s not many ways around this, but the process can take time.

States share criminal records to ensure continuity between the states. Many initiatives have been created to ensure that people can’t commit crimes in one state and get away with it in another state. Therefore, information is shared freely between most states in the United States. In fact, even more territories share information with each other and the states.

When Do States Share Criminal Records?

States will only share criminal records when they’re requested. While they’re publicly available, most states won’t freely share this information until it’s requested on a background check.

Employers, government agencies, and even some educational institutions usually request this information, but it’s not uncommon for loan officers and other financial institutions to look for someone’s criminal records. Typically, these records are shared during the background check process.

How Long Does it Take for States to Share Criminal Records?

It doesn’t take states a long time to share criminal records. With modern technology and online databases, someone’s criminal record can be accessible in a matter of minutes. This is especially true when looking through the FBI database if someone was fingerprinted.

Therefore, you shouldn’t expect the process to be delayed when requesting information from another state. The biggest factor that can contribute to a time delay is getting in contact with someone from the other state for more specific records but most databases are available online.

What Information Can States Share?

There is no limit to the information that states can share. Typically, states will share anything that’s public record when requesting someone’s criminal record. This may include court dates, the time of the crime, the nature of the crime, and much more. Additionally, some states may share details about probation, jail sentencing, and other information.

Therefore, if it’s something that’s on someone’s criminal record, there’s a good chance that states can share it as long as it’s not sealed. While states can share a lot of information, some laws prohibit states from sharing sealed records or information that includes arrest records.

States can also share other information that goes beyond criminal records. It’s common for states to share driving records, credit reports, and other types of information. In fact, states can even share deep web data that they have about someone and other types of internet history.

Ultimately, if it’s a public record, states can share that information with one another freely.

Do States Share Sex Offender Status?

Yes, states share sex offender status. According to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), states have to share information about sex offenders immediately. The only exception is usually level 1 or some level 2 sexual offenses. Most sex offenders have to register with state and federal registries anyway, so this information is usually publicly available.

Most employers can run background checks and have this information included without having to worry about sourcing it from the right places or contacting different states.

Can Criminal Records Be Sealed?

Criminal records can be sealed in most states. In fact, some states will seal criminal records automatically after a certain period. For example, Colorado seals laws after 10 years based on the crime, but this doesn’t apply to violent felonies or sex offenses.

For the purpose of background checks, some states, like New York, operate in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and limit the period that an employer can view criminal records for up to seven years, excluding more serious felonies. This effectively seals the records for background check purposes.

How Can You Seal Criminal Records?

The process for sealing criminal records varies based on the type of crime and where the crime occurred. If you live in Colorado, for example, you can only seal criminal records after 10 years, and they can’t be records for violent felonies or sex offenses.

Once you know that you can seal your criminal records, there are some steps that you have to take to complete the process if your state doesn’t seal them automatically.

The first step is getting in contact with an attorney. You’ll have to file an appeal and go through court to have the record sealed. We recommend working with a good attorney to ensure that this can happen. Most states will require you to complete some type of rehabilitation program, and even if your state doesn’t, we recommend doing some type of rehabilitation program anyway to boost your chances of sealing the records.

Once you enter court, the judge will have to make a decision about your case, so make sure you come up with a strong argument for why your records should be sealed.

Can States Share Sealed Criminal Records?

States can only share sealed criminal records if the authority checking the record is granted permission to unseal them. This is extremely rare and will only happen in background checks that require security clearance or federal permissions.

Most state governments and employers can’t open sealed criminal records, so you don’t have to worry about them being shared among different states. That said, some background checks may reveal that someone’s record has been sealed, even if the crime happened in a different state. Don’t worry, though, because most employers can’t ask you for details about the crime.

What States Don’t Share Criminal Records?

Most states will share a criminal record, but this isn’t true for every state, and the way that criminal records are shared may vary based on the state. For example, some states don’t report to the interstate identification index, so fingerprints might not be available across some state borders.

While most states do participate in this index, some states might report information loosely, so it’s not always reliable. That said, federal law usually requires states to share information, but some states limit what information can be shared. Learn more about how some states handle different criminal records.

States That Don’t Allow People to Clear Criminal Convictions

Some states allow you to clear your criminal convictions. Therefore, if someone commits a crime in New York, they can clear the conviction, and it won’t show up on a background check in New York or in a different state. However, some states don’t allow you to clear criminal records. Currently, there are eight states that don’t allow you to clear criminal records.

These states include Texas, Alaska, Massachusetts, Virginia, Hawaii, Idaho, Florida, and Alabama. This means that if you committed a crime in one of these states it will remain on your record indefinitely; there may be limited examples of records being sealed in these states but it’s unlikely.

Due to convictions in these states being permanently on your record, states can request this information, and it will be available indefinitely. The only way you can escape this criminal record is if you go to a state like New York which limits the lookback period to seven years (for most crimes).

States That Can’t Use Expunged, Sealed, or Dismissed Records

When records are sealed or dismissed states should not be able to share that information. Unfortunately, databases might not always be updated properly, which can lead to delays in crimes being removed from someone’s criminal record.

While these records shouldn’t be available to the public, if they’re lingering in a database, an employer might be tempted to look at them and learn more about the nature of the crime.

While employers can look, some states limit the use of these records, and they can’t be used to determine if an applicant is a good fit. States that don’t allow the use of expunged records include:

  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Indiana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • Utah
  • Oklahoma
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
  • Mississippi

It’s important to note that these states might have some differences in how they handle the law. A great example is how New Hampshire handles arrest records and expungement. The state allows employers to ask about arrest records and other criminal records, but if the case was expunged, they can’t ask about arrest records. Specific wording also plays a role in how employers can ask about arrest records.

States That Don’t Share Arrest Records

Arrest records and some other types of non-convictions might be limited across state lines. This is because some states have passed laws that don’t allow cases that haven’t been judged to be shared across state lines or even in state lines.

Many states that have these laws also won’t share arrest records, court dates, or any future court dates until there is a ruling about the case. This comes down to people being innocent until proven guilty.

That said, most states don’t have laws like this in place. Some examples of states that limit the use of arrest records in background checks include:

  • New York
  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
  • Maine
  • Hawaii
  • California
  • Arizona
  • Massachusetts

Some states may change their laws in the future, so keep this in mind during the background check process. Also, some states have different ways of interpreting arrest records. For example, New York can evaluate pending charges during the application process.

States That Don’t Share DUI Information

Most states belong to the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (IDLC). This program generates one driving record for drivers that is shared between states. Most states belong to this program, so if you have a DUI in New York information about it can be shared with California. This applies to all other states that belong to the IDLC.

While a majority of US states belong to the IDLC, some states have chosen to not share DUI and other driving records. States that don’t share these records include Tennessee, Georgia, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

States can change their laws in the future, so make sure you’re aware of any potential changes in the law before you’re confident during the background check process. It’s also important to note that some territories might not share DUI information.

Do United States Territories Share Criminal Records?

United States territories do share criminal records, but they don’t have to participate in the interstate identification index. This means that some territories, like Guam, don’t have to report the same information as some US states. Therefore, some criminal records might not follow you from a US territory into the rest of the states.

This is something you have to keep in mind, especially if you’re an employer requesting information from someone who came from Guam or another territory like the US Virgin Islands.

How to View Criminal Records from Every State

States share a lot of information, but with so many different ways to store criminal records, the process of looking up information about them can be challenging. For example, you might have to bounce around to different databases, contact different people, or hire an expensive private investigator to find arrest records or criminal records from other states. The good news is that there is a better way to view criminal records across state lines.

CheckPeople.com offers several tools that can help you run background checks or pull up criminal records. Because our search tools are connected to millions of public records databases, we can present you with someone’s entire criminal record in one easy-to-read full report.

What’s more, the process takes about 10 minutes to complete, and you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money on background check companies or private investigators.

Learn more about how we can help below.

Background Checks

One of the best ways to view someone’s records across state lines is to run a background check. Most background checks are comprehensive, but you’ll need a fingerprint to see records from more than one state. For most individuals, this can be an expensive and time-consuming process. This is where our background check tool comes into play.

When you enter someone’s information into our background check tool, it compiles a full report of their records from every state. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about accessing different databases because everything will be presented to you in one convenient location.

Offering a background check tool is usually comprehensive enough, but sometimes, you might be looking for specific records. In these cases, you’ll want to use our arrest records search tool. When you enter someone’s name, address, and state, you can view all public records about their arrests in one straightforward full report. Arrest records may include when the crime occurred, who was involved, and any convictions.

While our arrest records search tool is effective, some states limit how arrest records are handled. Therefore, if you know someone was arrested but can’t see any records, they might have arrest records from one of those participating states.

What Other Information Can You Find with CheckPeople.com?

CheckPeople.com can help you learn all about someone’s criminal record or arrest records. However, that’s not the only thing we can help you find. Aside from arrest records, you can view anything about someone that’s a public record, including:

  • Social media accounts
  • Dating profiles
  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Work history
  • Employment history
  • Sex offender status
  • Jail and court records
  • Marriage records
  • Addresses
  • Email addresses

Depending on the person, you may find some or all of this information. Ultimately, it depends on what you’re looking for in your search. We recommend one of our comprehensive background checks to find everything you need to know in one simple place.

Run a Background Check With Confidence Today

The background check process can be a complicated one. Typically, you have to deal with federal agencies, contact databases in different states, or even hire an investigator to find the information you’re looking for. Unfortunately, this makes it challenging to find information about someone, and almost impossible to have all of it in one place.

The good news is that CheckPeople.com is here to help. When you use any of our background check tools, you’ll have access to anything that’s publicly available. You can also use our tools to run a background check on yourself to ensure that information from different states matches up.

Plus, when you run a background check with us, all of the information will be available in one convenient, full, and comprehensive report – it doesn’t matter if someone has lived in multiple states.

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