Pacific Information Resources, Inc., familiarly known as Search Systems, has released a guide to researching criminal records. The document is viewable online and can also be downloaded as a PDF. Search Systems provides links to commercial and government-operated databases of public record information on the Internet. Most of these are free, but access to the huge collection has a small fee.
The site categorizes links to all imaginable public records that are available on the Internet. Some popular types of public records included are: Births, Marriages and Deaths, Corporations, Court Records, Fictitious Business Names, Professional Licenses, Real Property, Recorded Documents, and Voter Registrations.
The Criminal Records Search Guide addresses the myth of a nationwide criminal records database and lists the different types of criminal records and their agency source. It also identifies non court records of sanctions and enforcement databases. This is a basic tutorial, designed for the casual or non professional researcher.
But the primary emphasis is on the Search Systems collection of criminal records — both the free links, called DirectPass, and the fee-based criminal records database, part of the Premium searches. Premium searches are discounted for DirectPass subscribers, but incur an additional fee.
The Premium criminal records content is from a commercial database but is reformatted by Search Systems, usable as a cut-and-paste text document. The text formatting enhances this product over the html one of the data provider. Search by full or partial first and last name, with an option to limit by date of birth or year of birth. The cost is $7 per state search or $19 for a search of all available jurisdictions, if you are a subscriber to DirectPass.
The most comprehensive search of criminal records will utilize the free government-sponsored sites — those listed in the DirectPass collection and Internet sources that haven’t yet found their way into the Search Systems public records. Also, a comprehensive search for criminal records must include a commercial database — probably 2 to 3 databases, depending on the jurisdiction one is searching. There is no substitute for hand searching court records, whether or not the particular jurisdiction is encompassed in the online records.