How Do You Get a Criminal Background Check?

How Do You Get a Criminal Background Check?

There are many different kinds of background checks: criminal records, references, driving records, education verification, employment records, etc. So when it comes to figuring out how to get a background check, you first need to determine which kind of background check you want. Once you know that, there are a few different ways to get this background check information.

Online Services

CriminalWatchDog and other online background check services give instant results for any background check that uses a database, which can include SSN verification, sex offender registries, and criminal records. Many services will also check physical records for you in person if no online databases exist. Online services are typically the fastest and easiest way to get a background check (and we're not just saying that because we offer these services!).

Direct Court Searches

If you need to obtain case records at the county court level, the court will likely require someone to go to the courthouse in person. CriminalWatchDog and similar services will send a licensed investigator to the courthouse for you, but you can go to the courthouse yourself.

County court background checks generally take 2-4 days to complete, as they don't use online databases and have to be checked manually. How long other background checks take depends on the type of information needed.

National Sex Offender Registry

If you're looking for background information on any sort of sex crime, you can check each state's online sex offender registry. You can also use the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) to search all state, territorial, and tribal sex offender registries. The NSOPW database allows you to search by zipcode, name, address, and county, and offers instant results.


Employers wishing to verify an applicant's identity and legal working status can use E-Verify, which is a federally run system that uses data from the Department of Homeland Security, Social Security Administration, and I-9 Forms to verify employee information. While E-Verify doesn't give employers a full background check, it does help them ensure employees are who they say they are. You can learn how to run a full employer background check here.


Driving records can be a valuable part of a background check, especially for employers looking to hire for a driving position. Laws about what's included in driving records and who can check them vary by state.

Visit your state's DMV website to see if you're allowed to check an employee's driving records. Keep in mind that most states charge for driving records.

So, How Do You Get a Criminal Background Check?

First, you need to decide which type of criminal background check you need. Then, it's all about gathering information from the sources that will best give you the information you want. The different sources available are online background check services, direct court visits, sex offender registries, the government's e-verify service, and the DMV.

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