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  • Writer's pictureSafer Places

County vs. Statewide

What’s the best approach to searching for possible criminal records? Did you know you have choices and the best answer isn’t the same from one state to another? If we put aside federal court searches and private database searches for a moment, we’re left with a county search or a statewide search. Some states offer access to a central repository of records that are aggregated from county courts across the state. Some county court records are available electronically and if all courts in a given state allow electronic access, we can quickly scan all counties simultaneously. Where neither of these scenarios are possible, we send a court researcher to the court to use their public access terminal (PAT) or submit a request to the clerk of courts (Clerk assist courts usually slow the process).

Cost is also a factor. Access to statewide repositories may cost more than a single county search, but not always, especially if the court charges a fee to access the records. If the subject has resided in more than one county, a statewide search is almost always less expensive and it will include all counties in that state so it could uncover a record you may otherwise have missed. To help our clients decide the best searches to order and to be as transparent as possible in the various searches we offer, we have created a state-by-state list of available and recommended searches. This is available on the dashboard of our employment screening webpage (available to clients only). Click here to get to the login screen.

Here’s some examples of what you should know when deciding on the best searches for your situation:

MA – each court within the county is a separate search. We include Superior Court and one District court. A statewide search (CORI) includes all Superior and all District court records across the state.

NH – County searches are limited to specific courts (same as MA) and each court charges a fee – A State Police search covers the entire state. A special authorization form is required but no longer needs to be notarized.

ME – All Counties charge a fee so a statewide search is actually less costly than searching a single county.

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