Arizona Background Check: How To Search AZ Records for Real Results

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | May 15, 2024

Arizona background check online on a computer screen on the right, while a man in the pre-employment process wonders how far back do background checks go in Arizona and a magnifying glass hovers over the state of Arizona background check laws included.

Arizona Background Check
Arizona background check to look for criminal records, background history, court documents, and search all public records in Arizona.

When performing a background check, Arizona laws make the Arizona background check process very simple and easy to search for AZ public records and information on any individual. But, it’s important to know how to find real results and avoid Arizona public records that are outdated or inaccurate.

Arizona follows the trend of many states, allowing simplified access to background check information, however, unless users know how to conduct a background check, what shows up on a background check, Arizona’s search options, and other key tips for finding public information in Arizona, the results can end up being ‘fake.’

What does that mean?

Fake background check results are those that are incomplete, inaccurate, or illegal. And it’s easier to get fake results than many people realize.

Finding real results in the state databases requires a knowledge of the laws Arizona has regarding background checks, but also how to search for the right records for the right type of search. For example, to comply with federal regulations, daycare providers must run complete fingerprint background checks on all employees and any volunteers who are over the age of 16. These type of laws help ensure the safety of vulnerable populations, such as children.

Likewise, all professional background checks (like those done for residency and tenants, employment, a nanny screening process, or any legal vetting process) require the consent of the person being searched, in writing, and usually a social security number. This is especially true for name-based (entry-level positions background investigations) since those don’t use fingerprints.

When searching public records for personal reasons, such as doing a dating background check or investigating the person who lives down the street, these can be performed without permission, but the results can be less than accurate unless users know the middle name or birthday of the person.

This complete guide provides all the sources, methods, and checklists for a number of occupations and employment background checks in Arizona. In short…everything needed to search AZ records for real results.

Free Background Check: Arizona Info and Public Records

Depending on what the information is for, there are a number of different ways to perform an Arizona background check. Public records searches can be done using a variety of methods.

Public records are just that…public. Unless the information has been sealed or expunged, background checks will show it.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) acts as the central repository for much of the criminal history information for the state of Arizona. The Arizona DPS maintains records for all issues pertaining to public safety in the state which include recent arrests and the following:

However, the state agency does not contain records for local and county jurisdictions. This means that incident reports, arrest records, and other reports gathered by county sheriffs or local police departments will not be available through the Arizona DPS.

Although the repository that is maintained by the Arizona DPS is the most comprehensive in the state, running background checks through the DPS is not a service that is available to the general public. Unfortunately, only authorized agencies are able to obtain criminal history information this way, as well as non-profits.

Most businesses in the state of Arizona that are performing pre-employment background checks (like an employee background check at Walmart) will work with a reputable background check company to perform the necessary criminal background checks. Besides hiring a third-party company to perform a background check, individuals still have the option of searching local records for criminal history information.

Although tedious, this can be a solid option for people looking to obtain criminal history information on someone for personal reasons, assuming they know what counties that individual has resided in.

Detailed steps on searching local repositories for background check-related information are outlined further down.

FBI Background Check: Arizona

Like all states, the state of Arizona uses nationwide background checks to vet many professionals, especially those that are required by federal law, such as child care, daycare, and healthcare workers. These professions, and some others, like real estate agents, are required to undergo a national criminal record search, using fingerprints.

To conduct the background check, the process is performed using the Identity History Summary process offered by the FBI.

Find Arizona Public Records through County Clerks

The various county clerks throughout the state of Arizona are one of the best resources for obtaining public records of a non-criminal sort.

Although there are a number of different kinds of records that are maintained by the county clerk, the most notable is the criminal history information that can be requested.

Some public records the county clerk usually holds include:

There are a few different ways to make a records request to the county clerk, however, it is important to know those county clerks will only have access to criminal records that took place in that particular county.

Criminal history information from a neighboring county will not be available. Before contacting the county clerk for records, be sure that the individual whose records are being sought resided in that county by performing an address lookup of who lives here.

Below is a link to the website of the county clerk for each county in Arizona.

Arizona CountyCounty Clerk Website
Apache CountyApache County Clerk Website
Cochise CountyCochise County Clerk Website
Coconino CountyCoconino County Clerk Website
Gila CountyGila County Clerk Website
Graham CountyGraham County Clerk Website
Greenlee CountyGreenlee County Clerk Website
La Paz CountyLa Paz County Clerk Website
Maricopa CountyMaricopa County Clerk Website
Mohave CountyMohave County Clerk Website
Navajo CountyNavajo County Clerk Website
Pima CountyPima County Clerk Website
Pinal CountyPinal County Clerk Website
Santa Cruz CountySanta Cruz County Clerk Website
Yavapai CountyYavapai County Clerk Website
Yuma CountyYuma County Clerk Website

Find Arizona Court Records (For Arizona Criminal Background Check)

There are two main ways to obtain court records from Arizona county clerks: Using the online portal OR requesting the records directly. Court records held at the local level are often absent from the FBI databases, so a comprehensive background check will reveal them.

Specific steps for both of these methods are outlined below.

Requesting Records Directly From the County Clerk

Step 1: Access the Website of the County Clerk

Using the table above, access the website of the specific county clerk that has the criminal record information being sought, such as Maricopa County

Step 2: Decide Which Method Works Best

There are 5 main ways to obtain criminal history records directly:

  • By Mail
  • By Fax
  • By Phone
  • By Email
  • In-Person

The cost of these methods is all the same: a $0.50 fee is required to obtain copies of criminal history information. If certified copies are needed, such as for a legal matter, there is an additional $30 fee to certify the records.

In-person will likely be the quickest should the requester have access to the specific court. Email, phone, and fax will also be fairly quick, with the records being returned usually within the day. Making a request by mail will take the longest as the records will also be mailed back, adding several days to the process.

Step 3: Follow Specific Steps to Make the Request

Once the method has been decided, the website of the county clerk will provide specific steps for each option detailing how to make the request. In general, the following information is required to complete the request.

  • Case Number
  • Name of parties involved in a case
  • Specific Documents needed
  • Filing Date
  • Requester Contact information in case additional information is needed

Although it is possible to obtain criminal record information from the county clerk without all of the above information, an additional $30 fee will be required to perform the search.

Requesting Records Online With Arizona E-access

The Arizona Supreme Court recently launched an online record portal to make it easier for individuals to access public information. Although obtaining these records still requires a fee, the online portal is likely the easiest and quickest option for most individuals to obtain specific court documents as part of an Arizona background check. 

Detailed steps to use the Arizona E-access website are outlined below.

Step 1: Access the Arizona Judicial Branch e-access website

The e-access website will be linked to the website of the county clerk or can be accessed directly here.

Step 2: Register an Account

In order to use the online court record portal, individuals must first register an account on the website. Signing up is easy and should only require basic information such as a name and email address.

Once registered, individuals must then select a subscription in order to access records. The subscription is essentially a way to pre-pay for documents based on what will be needed. The various subscription options are as follows:

  • Pay as you go: $10 per document, no upfront fee
  • Recurring: $80 upfront, access to 20 documents per month. Additional documents can be purchased for $10 each.
  • Recurring: $200 upfront, access to 50 documents per month
  • Recurring: $360 upfront, access to 100 documents per month
  • Recurring: $640 upfront, access to 200 documents per month
  • Recurring $1,050 upfront, access to 375 documents per month
  • Recurring $10,000 upfront, access to 5,000 documents per month

Step 3: Pay Fee and Perform the Search

Once the subscription has been selected and the proper fee paid, simply perform the search by following the onscreen prompts. Be sure to have as much information as possible before performing the search such as the name and case number.

Free Criminal Background Check: Arizona

Certain information relating to an Arizona Background Check can also be accessed through the State Police and through local Sheriffs’ Departments in the state. The information from both of these sources may be limited so it may be a good idea to contact the agency before making the request to ensure they have the specific type of record being sought, especially when performing a background check on yourself.

Detailed steps for how to make a record request through the state police and through the local sheriff’s department are outlined below.

Step 1: Access the Arizona Department of Public Safety Public Services Portal

The first step to requesting records information from the Arizona State Police is to access the public services portal that is part of the DPS website. Keep in mind that only law enforcement records will be available. Court records can be requested through the county clerk or through the Arizona court records portal.

Step 2: Create an Arizona DPS account

In order to file a records request through the Arizona DPS, individuals must first create an account with the Arizona DPS. The registration process is simple and should only require basic information such as a name and email address.

Step 3: Make a Record Request

With the account created, simply follow the onscreen prompts in order to make the records request. The information needed to make the request will obviously vary based on the request, but in general, the name of the individuals involved is a good start and often enough to complete the request.

The process for requesting records from a local sheriff’s department will vary slightly from department to department. Steps for requesting records from the Maricopa County Sheriff, which is fairly typical for every sheriff’s department in the state.

Step 1: Access the Sheriff’s Website

The local sheriff’s website is a great resource of information and should contain a page with specific instructions as to what records are available and the best way to request records from the department. Look for the following terms to locate the page that contains records information.

  • Services
  • Records Requests
  • Freedom of Information Act

For example, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department website has a page titled “Request Other MCSO Public Records

Step 2: Follow Specific Steps to Make a Request

As mentioned before, each department may have a slightly different process for the public to make a records request. In general, this will be done by mail, phone, or email. An email request is likely the easiest and can be sent at any time. What information is needed and the contact information of the sheriff’s department should be easily available on the public records page of the department website.

For example, the MCSO public records request page provides an email address, fax number, and address to send records requests to.

Step 3: Make Request and Pay Fees

There will be a fee associated with each record request. The fee will vary from department to department but is usually around $5.

When making the request be sure to include as much information as possible such as the names of the individuals involved, the date of the incident, the specific documents requested, etc.

Requests should be completed in a timely manner and will likely take less than two weeks. Certain requests may take longer such as those involving high-profile cases that have additional documents to sort through in order to locate the one being requested.

Below is a link to the website of each Sheriff’s department in the state.

Arizona CountySheriff’s Department Website
Apache CountyApache County Sheriff’s Department Website
Cochise CountyCochise County Sheriff’s Department Website
Coconino CountyCoconino County Sheriff’s Department Website
Gila CountyGila County Sheriff’s Department Website
Graham CountyGraham County Sheriff’s Department Website
Greenlee CountyGreenlee County Sheriff’s Department Website
La Paz CountyLa Paz County Sheriff’s Department Website
Maricopa CountyMaricopa County Sheriff’s Department Website
Mohave CountyMohave County Sheriff’s Department Website
Navajo CountyNavajo County Sheriff’s Department Website
Pima CountyPima County Sheriff’s Department Website
Pinal CountyPinal County Sheriff’s Department Website
Santa Cruz CountySanta Cruz County Sheriff’s Department Website
Yavapai CountyYavapai County Sheriff’s Department Website
Yuma CountyYuma County Sheriff’s Department Website

Arizona Pre-Employment Background Check

Many jobs in Arizona will require specific background checks to be performed as a condition of employment. These additional checks mainly apply to jobs that work with sensitive groups such as children or the elderly. Besides the specific checks required for these jobs, more traditional background screening checks will still be performed such as education checks, address verification, and others.

Below are the specific checks needed for various jobs in Arizona and the Arizona pre-employment background check.

Background Check Arizona: Educators

Teachers in Arizona are subject to additional and more rigorous background checks than most professions, as is the case for every state. In Arizona, a national background check must be performed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. This background check is fingerprint-based and requires a fingerprint clearance card.

The fingerprint clearance card and subsequent criminal background check are required before gaining employment as a teacher in the state. This applies to all teachers in the state as outlined by Arizona state law.

Healthcare Background Check AZ: Background Check System

Like all states, there are also additional checks required to become a healthcare provider in the state. These apply not just to those who work in hospitals but also to those involved in at-home care or any other kind of healthcare facility.

Besides normal criminal background checks, there are additional checks aimed at minimizing the risk of fraud and abuse. Several national and state databases will be checked such as those that contain information on individuals who have been convicted of abuse while in a healthcare-related field. Other databases that will be checked include the FDA debarment list and the FACIS background check (exhaustive Level 3 background check) which contains information on individuals who have been convicted of drug-related fraud and other crimes.

Showing up on any of these lists normally means automatically being removed from consideration for employment.

What is the background check turnaround time for healthcare in AZ? Many factors can contribute, but generally, the process is approximately 2 weeks.

Arizona Child Care Background Check

There are specific federal laws that the state of Arizona must follow for childcare providers. Arizona SB 1504, passed in 2020, increased the stipulations and requirements for childcare background checks.

These checks are required for anyone that will be with children unsupervised at any time, the law also applies to those as young as 16. The following checks are required to work in child care in Arizona:

  • FBI Identity History Summary Check
  • In-State Criminal History Check
  • National Sex Offender Registry Check
  • Arizona Sex Offender Registry Check
  • Arizona Child Abuse And Neglect Registry Check
  • Previous States Of Residency Criminal History Check
  • Previous States Of Residency Sex Offender Registry Check
  • Previous States Of Residency Child Abuse And Neglect Registry Check

Get Arizona DOT Record

Certain jobs in Arizona may require an Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT) record check. Although not common, this check may be required for jobs that involve driving or operating heavy machinery.

Requests for these records can be made online through the Arizona Department of Transportation website.

Arizona Inmate Lookup and Sex Offender Registry Screening

Finding inmate information such as location and sentencing information is extremely easy. The Arizona Department of Corrections maintains an online searchable database of inmates. Detailed steps to perform an inmate search are outlined below.

Step 1: Access the Arizona Department of Corrections Website

First, individuals will need to access the website for the Arizona DOC. The inmate search will be located under the “public resources,” drop-down menu.

Step 2: Enter Information and Perform Search. 

The Inmate Datasearch is easy to use and can be searched using only the name of the inmate. There are also options to search using the inmate’s ADC number. Results should be available instantly.

Background Check for Gun Purchase in Arizona

Arizona law only requires background checks to be performed when a licensed firearm dealer is performing the sale. This is done by contacting the FBI directly to perform the background check. Private sellers of firearms are not required to perform background checks.

There are also certain conditions that make it unnecessary for firearms dealers to perform background checks. For example, individuals with an Arizona state concealed carry permit are exempt from federal background checks when purchasing a handgun, but are required to undergo a federal background check when purchasing other types of firearms.

Arizona Background Check Laws

There are several unique background check laws in Arizona aside from those federally mandated by the FCRA.

Arizona has “ban the box” laws that prevent employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on the initial application. Although criminal history can be discussed further in the application process.

FCRA laws and a disclosure and consent form must be provided to an applicant before a background check takes place.

There are also additional laws around background checks for certain professions, which are outlined above.

How Long Does a Background Check Take in Arizona?

Generally, a background check in Arizona will take less than a week to complete. However certain criminal history information that is being requested from state agencies may take several weeks.

Background checks can be intimidating for anyone. Luckily getting an Arizona background check is a mostly stress-free process with specific requirements clearly laid out for conducting a background check, in Arizona.

Frequently Asked Questions About Arizona Background Check

How Do I Get a Background Check in Arizona? Is There a Free Criminal Background Check Arizona?

Background checks in Arizona can be obtained through a reputable background check company in most cases. Certain jobs may require individuals to get a background check through the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Most of these checks will require a small payment for reports.

What Shows Up on a Background Check in Arizona?

An Arizona background check will have all the typical information such as education history, work history, address verification, and criminal history information. Per the FCRA, criminal history information can only go back 7 years, with a few exceptions such as the annual salary of the job being applied for.

How Long Does a Background Check Take in Arizona?

An Arizona background check should take less than two weeks. In many cases, it will take as little as 2-3 days.

Is Arizona an Open Carry State?

Yes, Arizona permits the open carry of a firearm for anyone legally allowed to own a firearm. There are several exceptions such as schools and businesses with posted signs.

How Many Years Can an Employer Go Back on a Background Check in Arizona (Pre-Employment Background Check)?

An Arizona background check can only go back 7 years. In certain cases, it can go back further, such as for jobs that make more than 75,000 per year. But, unlike other 10-year background check states, Arizona limits the lookback period.

What’s a 7 Year Background Check Arizona?

A 7-year background check refers to the length of time that a background check can report. If a crime was committed more than 7 years ago, information for that crime can not be reported as part of a background check. Arizona is not a state that limits the length of time a background check can examine, and can be called a 10 year background check state, in a sense, because many checks will go back 10 years, while others can go back indefinitely.

Is There a Drug Test Background Check in Arizona?

Yes, many positions will require a drug test as part of the background check, such as those in healthcare, child care, and education.

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