Criminal files are the records of any criminal activity that someone has engaged in and may have been prosecuted or convicted for. Since criminal records are considered public records, these are readily available to people who wish to conduct background checks for one reason or the other. Criminal documents, compared to civil court files, definitely bear more weight when it comes to the assessment of an individual and his or her character.
If you have been convicted before, you may want to access your own criminal files before a potential business partner or employer gets to them. It is best to come prepared by familiarizing yourself with the contents of the criminal file and work on having them permanently closed, especially if charges have been dropped or dismissed.
You need to file a formal request for the closure of criminal files at least one month after they have been made, but even then, only the fingerprints, photographs and sections of the file will be destroyed. An occurrence report of criminal records is typically maintained by the registrar or by the county court even after closure for record keeping purposes.
Online Access to Criminal Records – Evaluating the Pros and Cons
Quite a number of companies are now offering access to criminal documents online, giving the general public a comprehensive search of different kinds of criminal files. These include federal fugitive files, probation records, prison parole files and searches that include both state and county repositories for criminal records.
Remote access to criminal files allows you to retrieve the information by demand, whenever the situation calls for it. Employers will be able to make quick hiring decisions and businesses will be able to decide on partnerships and joint ventures without doubting the credibility of their associates.
There are disadvantages though. Cases of identity theft can proliferate and some people may use the information obtained through criminal files for blackmail or other unscrupulous reasons. The contents of these documents may also be used in influencing decisions of defendants and witnesses in ongoing criminal proceedings.
While knowledge is control, it is the responsibility of your state to ensure that criminal files are accessed for the primary intent of protecting its citizens. They need to make sure that sealed documents remain confidential except in situations where it is justified that they are released. Pretrial and pre-sentence investigations are also to be withheld from the public until they have progressed to actual legal proceedings.
But the disadvantages that remote access may bring about are still outweighed by the advantages. Tracking cases become easier since even judges and lawyers can access these criminal records online and the clerk's office is freed from the burden of numerous requests.
If there are any mistakes in criminal files, it becomes much easier to know about them and correct them accordingly. Even wrongful prosecutions and cases involving bribery and favoritism can be tracked using remote access to criminal files. Finally, this reinforces the open nature of public records and the legal system by allowing access to criminal files on the Internet.
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