Primary Government Sources

The links below lead to over 9,000 government locations that hold criminal records. Each location displays key data including address, phone numbers, web page, and record access methods.

Click to Find a State or Local Court

A county courthouse search is the most accurate and least complicated search. Seventy-five percent of the courts provide some type of online access, but online access may not always be the most practical search method. Slightly over half of these online courts do NOT provide enough identifiers to determine the true identity of a person in question. (Makes you wonder about the completeness of the so-called instant national background checks available on the Web, doesn't it?).

Click to Find a State Repository

There are two primary state criminal record resources available to the public in every state:
  1. The State Criminal Record Repository
  2. Court Records on State Judicial Systems
About the Criminal Record Repositories
State repositories are often designated as the state’s "Official Source" for background checks. Not all repositories are open to the public, however, and many require a signed release and/or fingerprints. For name searches, these agencies are generally not as reliable as the courts for accuracy and final case disposition.

About Court Records on State Judicial Systems
Every state has a judicial branch, often known as the Administration Office of the Courts, that oversees that state’s trial and appellate court system. Over 35 of these agencies provide or endorse access to county level criminal record dockets. A search in these systems can be a particularly useful tool in statessuch as NY or UT, which do not permit a search of the state's criminal records repository.

Click to Find a Federal Court or Federal Record Center

The United States District Courts are the trial courts of the federal court system. There are a total of 94 federal judicial districts, with at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands also have District Courts.

Searching federal court system records can be one of the easiest or one of the most frustrating experiences that record searchers encounter. Although the federal court system offers advanced electronic search capabilities, at times it is practically impossible to properly identify a subject when searching civil or criminal records...there are few or no identifiers!

Three additional significant federal courts are the U.S. Tax Court, the Court of International Trade, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.