How To Get a Criminal Background Check on Yourself or Others in 2023

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | May 17, 2024

How to get a criminal background check, man wonders while looking at an inmate with an active arrest record behind a magnifying glass and looking into how to check someone’s criminal record by using a criminal background check on the right.

Run a Criminal Background Check on Yourself: Search Now
Criminal background check searches your personal criminal background history. Enter your name and location to search your full criminal record now.

Do you need to learn how to check your own criminal record and find a personal record that shows felony convictions, misdemeanor convictions, criminal cases, and arrest records for others (or more)?

Because of public records, anyone has the ability to search their own criminal history, or even find someone else’s criminal background in 2023, and the process is very straightforward once you know where to look.

This guide explaining how to request your criminal record shows every step required so you can learn the exact process for how to get a criminal background check on yourself as well as a background check on people without their knowledge, legally and safely.

How Can I Check My Criminal Record for Free?

Wondering how to check criminal records for free? Just like getting a volunteer background screening for free, individuals can also use the same free methods for searching criminal background check records.

For those who are interested in seeing their criminal record without paying, only a few resources are available. However, consider using one of these top three options to find a record, details of the convictions, and what to do next.

Individuals must keep in mind that if they are using federal, state, and local criminal databases, there may be extra fees involved — therefore, this is not a free service.

  • Option 1: Federal, state, and local criminal databases from official government sources (reports generally cost from $5-$25)
  • Option 2: Physical requests
  • Option 3: Reputable background check agency (usually the quickest method and you can even use a free 7-day trial check to save money)

If the criminal history information check is being done for personal reasons (i.e. someone is curious about their boyfriend’s past, or perhaps doesn’t trust their sister’s new fiancée, or wants to know more about their new friend, etc.), consent is NOT required.

However, if they are doing the background check for any type of professional reasons, such as hiring a new employee, approving someone for residency (renter’s background screening), or checking the background of a volunteer, consent is required and the person in question MUST approve the search.

Search Federal Records and Sex Offender Registrations (National Background Check)

Individuals can find their own criminal record or someone else’s records by looking at the United States Courts’ records and sex offender registries.

These resources are free to use to search criminal background at the federal level. So, when asking “How can I get a copy of my criminal record online?” Start with federal databases.

Step 1: Use the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) System or visit the clerk’s office to find where the case was filed.1

Screenshot on PACER website landing page.

The PACER System allows anyone to search for court case and docket information to find a federal criminal record and it is a completely free crime record search.

Step 2: If an individual cannot find where the federal case may have been filed, they can use the PACER Case Locator tool and search database.2

Step 3: Individuals can also access the federal case documents after logging into PACER to see the criminal record in question.3

Step 4: In-person: if they do not want to look online or set up a PACER account, someone can access case files in person at the local court clerk’s office.

  • If an individual is looking for a case that is older than 1999 to see if they have a criminal record, they will also have to look in person for the documents at one of the Federal Records Centers to conduct the national background check.

Step 5: Phone call: If a person can’t find the criminal record online via PACER or in person at the court clerk’s office, calling will provide them with basic information regarding the specific case.

Step 7: Court opinions: If a person does have a PACER account, they can find court opinions for free online.

Although people can find federal records via PACER or in-person services, these services are only free to search. For printed copies of the criminal report, there is a small charge. Although individuals can get a free criminal background check in Georgia, this is not true in every state.

  • Electronic and paper court records have a fee of 10 cents per page to print.
  • PACER charges 10 cents per page with a maximum of $3 per document.
  • Using the Federal Records Center costs $64.
  • Additional PACER free options are outlined on the website.

How To Get a Criminal Background Check Using State Criminal History Record Information

Every state provides access to a state-level background check service, either a name-based check or a fingerprint-based check. This can be useful to avoid the steps required for personal federal record checks.

The following table lists all states’ background check services:

Criminal Background Check State
State Background Check Website
AlabamaAlabama Background Check
AlaskaBackground Check Program
ArizonaPublic Access Case Lookup
ArkansasCriminal Background Checks
CaliforniaCriminal Records
ColoradoState of Colorado Criminal History Check
ConnecticutCriminal Records
DelawareObtaining a Certified Delaware Criminal History
District of ColumbiaCriminal Background Check
FloridaObtaining Criminal History Information
GeorgiaGeorgia Criminal Background Check System
HawaiiCriminal History Records Check
IdahoIdaho Criminal History Unit
IllinoisCriminal History Background Checks
IndianaIndiana State Police Limited Criminal History Search
IowaCriminal History Record Check Information
KansasCriminal History Record Search
KentuckyBackground Checks
LouisianaBureau of Criminal Identification and Information
MaineMaine Criminal History Record & Juvenile Crime Information
MarylandMaryland State and Federal Background Checks
MassachusettsCriminal record checks
MichiganMSP Criminal History Records
MinnesotaMinnesota Public Criminal History
MississippiCriminal History Record Checks
MissouriMissouri Automated Criminal History Site
MontanaBackground Checks Montana Department of Justice
NebraskaNebraska Background Check Portal
NevadaRCCD State of Nevada
New HampshireCriminal History Record Requests
New JerseyNew Jersey Criminal History Records Information
New MexicoFingerprinting and Background Checks
New YorkCriminal History Records, Background Checks
North CarolinaCriminal Background Check
North DakotaRequesting a Criminal History Record Check
OhioBackground Check
OklahomaCriminal History
OregonOregon State Police: Criminal History Record Checks
PennsylvaniaCriminal History Background Check
Rhode IslandBackground Checks
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Law Enforcement Division
South DakotaComputerized Criminal History
TennesseeCriminal Background Check
TexasCriminal Name History Search
UtahObtain a Copy of Your Own Criminal History Record
VermontRecord Checks Vermont Crime Information Center
VirginiaCivil and Applicants Record Exchange
WashingtonCriminal History Washington State Patrol
West VirginiaRequest a Criminal Background Check
WisconsinDOJ WORCS
WyomingCriminal Records Unit

There are two basic types of searches for someone’s legal charges or to find someone’s criminal record.

Criminal background checks are issued through the Department of Justice and criminal background checks are accessed through the state police background check.

Plus, states will vary on the proper steps to do online and in-person background checks. For example, the process of how to do the Georgia criminal background check online is different than doing a Louisiana check in person.

The following information provides an example step-by-step process to see the best way to conduct each search thoroughly.

PACER website screenshot pricing model page

To use the PACER system to find court records, users must sign up for an account and then pay small fees to access cases.

Criminal Background Check via the Department of Justice

Learn how to get a criminal background check on yourself through the Department of Justice in Delaware:

How to get a criminal background check graphic using the Department of Justice in Delaware, showing the steps for getting a criminal background check including sending in fingerprints, providing a photo ID, paying for the report to be generated and waiting for it in the mail to get a report of your criminal history.

Step 1: Obtain fingerprints through approved fingerprinting locations, with fees typically costing between $52 and $65 for vendor or contractor fingerprint services.

Step 2: Provide a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or any state ID.

Step 3: Juveniles must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Step 4: Individuals must pay a state and FBI criminal background check fee of $65 or a state background check fee of $25.

Step 5: Wait — the background check will be given to the point of contact.

Criminal Background Check via State Police

How can I get a local criminal background check? Use the local state police office to learn how to get a criminal background check.

Delaware Applicants:

  • Step 1: Complete the Authorization for Release of Information form.4
  • Step 2: Take the completed form to one of the state offices.
    • Kent County – Primary Facility
    • New Castle County – Satellite Facility
    • Sussex County – Satellite Facility
  • Step 3: Use a money order or credit card to pay the $65 processing fee.

Non-Delaware Applicants: 

  • Step 1: Visit the local fingerprint agency
  • Step 2: Print an FD fingerprint form on the FBI website or bring a fingerprint card.
    • If a person uses the FBI website, go to the ‘Services’ and ‘Identity History Summary Checks’ sections to find the ‘standard fingerprinting form (FD-258)’
  • Step 3: Complete the Authorization of Release Information form
  • Step 4: Mail the Authorization form, fingerprint card, and certified check or money order for $65 payable to the ‘Delaware State Police’ to the State Bureau of Identification in Dover, DE.

Use the following table to run a background check in any state. The rules for the personal background check procedure still apply, except each state website and jurisdiction is slightly different and will have different processing fees.

For example, a California background investigation requires a $25 fee and must include fingerprints.

Police Background Check by State
State Police Background Check Form/Access/Information
AlabamaCriminal Records Identification Unit
AlaskaBackground Records and Information
ArizonaCriminal History Records
ArkansasASBN Criminal Background Checks
CaliforniaCriminal Records Request Your Own
ColoradoInternet Criminal History Check 
ConnecticutState of Connecticut Criminal History Record Request Form
DelawareServices – Delaware State Police
District of ColumbiaPolice Clearances – Arrest and Criminal History Section
FloridaObtaining Criminal History Information
GeorgiaObtaining Criminal History Record Information
HawaiieCrim Hawaii’s Adult Criminal Information
IdahoFingerprinting & Background Checks
IllinoisWhat’s On My Record – Bureau of Identification
IndianaPLA: Criminal Background Checks
IowaState of Iowa Criminal History Record Check Request
KansasConducting a Record Check – Criminal History Record Search
KentuckyHow to Obtain Kentucky and Federal Criminal Background Check
LouisianaInternet Background Check
MaineCriminal History Record Information (CHRI)
MarylandPages – Criminal History Records Check
MassachusettsBackground Record Checks
MichiganICHAT Menu – State of Michigan
MinnesotaBCA Home – Search Criminal History
MississippiCriminal History Record Check Information
MissouriCriminal Record Check – Missouri State Highway Patrol
MontanaDDP Criminal History Background Check Policy
NebraskaCriminal Records
NevadaRecords Bureau
New HampshireCriminal History Record Requests
New JerseyIdentification & Information Technology Section
New MexicoFingerprinting and Background Checks
North CarolinaNCSBI – Background Checks
North DakotaNorth Dakota Courts Records
OhioRequesting Your Own Criminal Records
OklahomaBackground information search and assessment of results
OregonOregon State Police: Criminal Justice Information Services
PennsylvaniaPA State Police Criminal Background Check 
Rhode IslandGet a Background Check
South CarolinaCriminal Background Check: Register 
South DakotaBackground Check Requirements
TennesseeBackground Checks
TexasCrime Records
UtahCriminal Records
VermontVermont Criminal Conviction Record Internet Service
VirginiaServices – Virginia State Police
WashingtonBackground Checks Washington State Patrol
West VirginiaCriminal Records – WV State Police
WisconsinBackground Check & Criminal History Information
WyomingWHP Public Records Request

How To Check Someone’s Criminal Record From Local County Court Clerks

The following information provides steps for two different counties for how to get a criminal background check through local county court clerks. 

Example: County of Berks, Pennsylvania

The Clerk of Courts contains the records for the Criminal Division within the county. The Clerk is in charge of the seal and records of the Court, administering oaths, and affixing Seals to the processes.

Although there is a loophole for a Pennsylvania background screening, the public can learn how to get a criminal background check through the following:

Step 1: Visit the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania Web Portal to view court information.

This website shows appellate docket sheets, district court docket sheets, pleas, court calendars, and PayPal.

Step 2: Click on ‘Case Information’ to view ‘Court case’ and ‘Calendars.’

Step 3: Click on the ‘Public Records’ page under the Court Case section.

Step 4: Click on ‘Court Case Information’ under the UJS Web Portal.

The UJS web portal provides appellate court case information, criminal court case information, civil cases, traffic cases, and criminal cases.

Step 5: The other option is to visit the Criminal Courts of Common Pleas to see when a case event will be heard.

Example: Clark County, Washington

If an individual lives in Clark County, they can learn how to get a criminal background check through various methods.

Obtaining a criminal history in person

Step 1: Individuals can visit the Clerk’s office on the First Floor of the Clark County Courthouse.

Step 2: Individuals can use the public computer terminal to carry out record checks and research case numbers.

  • The public space is open between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • Individuals can view the online list of available files before going to the Clerk’s office.5

Obtaining a criminal history through the mail

Step 1: Individuals can request a certified copy of criminal records through the mail.

Step 2: Individuals need to pay $5.00 for the first page and $1.00 for every page afterward.

  • Non-certified documents are .50 cents per page mailed.
  • Copies of archived records dated before 1996 may have a $30 fee.

Step 3: Individuals must use a copy request form to mail to the Clark County Clerk’s office at 1200 Franklin St, Vancouver, WA 98660.

Obtaining a criminal history online

Step 1: Individuals can obtain a criminal history in Clark County by using a copy request form 6.

Step 2: Individuals can fill out the document, download it, and submit it to their email.

Getting Criminal History Through Odyssey Portal

How can I get a copy of my criminal record online? Obtaining court records is essential to find out information about another person or yourself 7.

In Clark County, it is easy.

Step 1: Visit the Odyssey Portal website.

Step 2: Individuals must pay $5.00 for a request to search Clark County criminal convictions.

  • Research Fee – $30

Step 3: Individuals must submit a request to the Clark County clerk through regular mail:

  • Attn. Criminal Department, PO Box 5000, Vancouver, WA 98666-5000

Step 4: The other option is to perform a statewide criminal search through the Washington State Patrol Criminal History.

Many individuals wonder how to check someone’s criminal record for a colleague, friend, family member, or new acquaintance.9 Whether it is for professional or personal reasons, it can be helpful to know how to get a criminal background check with online and in-person resources.10


1PACER System. US Courts Gov. Retrieved from <,Register%20for%20a%20PACER%20account>

2Search by National Index. Public Access to Court Electronic Records. Retrieved from <>

3Search by Specific Court. Public Access to Court Electronic Records. Retrieved from <>

4Instructions for Requesting a Criminal Background Check. DPR Files. Retrieved from <>

5File Location. Clark County Government. Retrieved from <>

6Access to Records. Clark County. Retrieved from <'s%20Office,-Attn.&text=If%20a%20statewide%20criminal%20conviction,fee%20of%20%2410.00%20per%20person.>

7Court Records. United States Courts. Retrieved from <>

8Washington State Patrol Criminal History. Washington Government. Retrieved from <>

9Employer Background Checks and Your Rights. FTC Consumer. Retrieved from <>

10Heydon, G & Naylor, B. (2017). Criminal record checking and employment: The importance of policy and proximity. Journal of Criminology. Retrieved from <>

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