Criminal Research: Fact & Fiction

Criminal Research: Fact & Fiction

Blog by Danilio Davila, Executive Director, GroupOne Background Screening

It’s important to understand the difference between fact and fiction. First, let’s agree there is not a single data source to provide all criminal history appropriate for pre-employment reports. Criminal history is assembled by county court record systems. A consumer reporting agency such as GroupOne Background Screening can obtain the information directly from the courts. The “urban myth” of having a single criminal data source was created by vendors who claimed they could provide millions of items at the click of a button. Fact No. 1: such data is stale, dated and unverified.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some advantages when collecting instant criminal data. For example, you can save time, money and labor. Instant criminal databases can provide over three billion records and reach out to 1,700 sources with multiple filters. Fact No. 2: There are risks when using instant databases.

These criminal reports do not cover every county in the state. While the agency using instant criminal data may note their search as complete, that’s obviously fiction. Most of the data produced in instant criminal reports is rarely updated, and as a result could include charges that have been redacted or expunged.

A growing trend within our industry is to monitor the absence of key identifying elements in certain jurisdictions. In Georgia, some counties will return a “name match” only, or just provide the year of birth. Missouri only provides the year of birth, and a reporting agency must go to the courts to obtain additional information. Hawaii does not provide the date of birth. And so on.

Fact No. 3: Good criminal research combines “in court” work to support national criminal database searches. You’ve got to have both if you want to be safe. Information gathered “in court” includes updated expungements, “hit” confirmations and validation. Adding a strong quality assurance review to close the research is the best practice. The QA process can reduce risk and litigation while enhancing accuracy. Fact No. 4: It is important to ensure your work can be relied upon for compliance purposes. A single search through an instant criminal database will not provide such assurance.

Here at GroupOne, we would never settle for such fiction.

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