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A solid background check partner will help an employer ensure that their hiring processes are fully compliant and sufficient to attract the best talent possible while preventing the wrong hire from sneaking through. One aspect of employment background checks is a county criminal record search. 

Today on the blog we wanted to talk about what they are, why they might be used, and what will, or will not show up on a county criminal record search. Let’s talk about county background checks.

What is a County Background Check?

Well, it’s as simple as it sounds, a county background check is conducted at the county level by searching county and municipal court records. The United States and its territories are made up of 3,143 counties and county equivalents. Within each state or territory, each county has its own local government including county and municipal courts. Typically, most people who face criminal charges are prosecuted through county or municipal courts, and a county background check will help to find convictions and pending charges within individual counties. Most people who commit crimes do so in the county where they live and/or work. County court records provide the most up-to-date information.

Some employers start their background check process at the county level, where the company and employees reside. Some may use address history searches to identify where else candidates may have lived. Many counties provide electronic access, but in some cases, background check providers must go in person to the court clerk to retrieve relevant records. Ensure the company you partner with is willing to go the extra mile.

Why Would a County Background Check Be Used?

Depending on the industry, a county background check could be a small aspect of a greater search. A county search could also be related to state criminal records or national criminal database search discovery. By noticing a conviction at the federal or state level, a background check company may search criminal record information in the original county to validate the information and provide more current or detailed information regarding the charge and case. 

What Shows Up on a County Criminal Record Search?

If a criminal case or conviction were to show up at the county level, it will demonstrate the following information:

  • Case number
  • Type of charge
  • Offense severity (misdemeanor/felony)
  • Disposition if the case has been disposed of
  • Disposition date if the case has been disposed of
  • Sentence if available

What Does Not Show Up on a County Criminal Record Search?

However,  a county criminal background check will NOT report the following types of information:

  • Non-criminal cases such as traffic, civil lawsuits, or divorce
  • Expunged records
  • Sealed records
  • Petty offenses
  • Dismissed charges
  • Criminal cases filed in federal courts
  • Criminal cases filed in other states
  • Criminal cases outside of the searched counties

Because a county criminal record search does NOT report crimes that may be in another state or county, it’s not recommended to limit your background check program to only the county level. However, county criminal record searches can be instrumental in the greater background check process.  By having multiple ways to identify and access accurate, up-to-date, complete information, through a multi-tiered search approach you can ensure you’re making the right hiring decision. If you have any questions regarding your current background check program, don’t hesitate to reach out via our contact form or give us a call, we’re more than willing to help businesses of WNY and beyond!