How to review your criminal record

A criminal record is created whenever you are arrested, even if you are released without being charged or found not guilty. These criminal records can be viewed by the public, including potential…

If they do offer fingerprinting services, you can go to your local police station. If not, go to the Illinois State Police office near you. You should bring a piece of identification information with you. The Illinois State Police will process all Access and Review fingerprint submissions free of charge. Your local police departments may charge a nominal fee for completing and submitting the Access and Review form. It will take a few days to receive the results.

Wait to receive notice that your criminal history transcript is ready to be picked up. This pick up will be at the Illinois State Police or your local police department. If no criminal history is found, the paper will be blank. Your written statement will tell you it is empty.

What if there are errors on my criminal history transcript?

When you received your criminal history from the Illinois State Police, you should have received a form to revise your transcript or make corrections. You should complete the Record Challenge form, attach documents and return it to the address provided. While these forms are often part of the RAP sheet request, they may not always be included with your report. Request a form, fill out the appropriate mistakes, errors or challenges and return the form to the appropriate agency.

Once your corrections are verified, you should receive confirmation from the appropriate agency.

The Criminal History Records Section serves as the Central State Repository for criminal records in the state of Arizona (see Arizona Revised Statute 41-1750).

Criminal justice agencies within Arizona are required by this statute to report arrest and disposition information to the Central State Repository. Copies of criminal records are restricted to authorized individuals/agencies.

Note: Please do not contact “Public Records” regarding Criminal History Records.

Instructions

Employee Background Checks:

The Applicant Team conducts fingerprint based state and federal criminal history background checks for agencies authorized under ARS 41-1750(G) and Public Law 92-544 to receive the information. Agencies submitting applicant prints must have an FBI approved city, town, or county ordinance, tribal resolution or state statute mandating the criminal history records check. For more information you can contact the Applicant Team at (602) 223-2223.

ARS 41-1750(G) does not provide DPS the statutory authority to process applicant fingerprints and release Arizona state criminal history record information to private companies for employment purposes with the exception of non-profit organizations pursuant to ARS 41-1750(G)23.

Fingerprint Clearance Card: If you have been told by an employer or agency that you need a fingerprint clearance card in order to work for a company/agency, contact the Applicant Clearance Card Team at (602) 223-2279.

Clearance Letter: Arizona law does not permit the Central State Repository to do a criminal history record check or to provide a clearance letter for the purpose of immigration, obtaining a visa, or for foreign adoption. Please contact the Criminal History Records Section (602) 223-2222 if you need a notarized copy of this statement.

National Check / Clearance: A national check or clearance can be obtained by contacting the FBI:

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Special Correspondence Unit

1000 Custer Hollow Road

Clarksburg, WV 26306

Local Clearance: If you need a local clearance, you should contact your local police agency.

Record Reviews: Individuals wishing to review their Arizona criminal record must complete a Record Review Packet.

Record Review Packet

The Criminal History Records Section of the Arizona Department of Public Safety serves as the Central State Repository for criminal records in the State of Arizona (see Arizona Revised Statute §41-1750). The subject of a criminal record may review the information contained in the record for the SOLE PURPOSE OF REVIEWING THE ACCURACY AND COMPLETENESS OF THEIR RECORD.

To Review the record the subject may:

  • Request a Record Review Packet by contacting the Criminal History Records Section at (602) 223-2222.
    • The Record Review Packet contains the following items:
      • Instructions
      • Blank Applicant fingerprint card
      • Contact Information Sheet
      • Pre-addressed return envelope

A response, including a copy of any existing criminal record information, will be mailed to the requester within 15 days of receipt of the completed Record Review Packet. No personal information regarding the identity or address of the requester will be included in the response.

Forms

  • Download and print the Record Review Packet Instructions
  • Download and print the fingerprint card and take it to a law enforcement agency to be fingerprinted. The agency may prefer to use a fingerprint card on standard stock. You may use the fingerprint card provided by the printing agency as long as the fingerprint card is the FBI blue standard applicant fingerprint card and all information identified in the instructions, including the agency and official taking the fingerprints, has been entered on the fingerprint card.
  • Download and print the Contact Information Sheet
  • Download and print the Record Review Packet Checklist
  • Download FAQ for any questions

When you are arrested or charged with an offense, a criminal record is created, even if you are released without being charged or found not guilty. These criminal records can be viewed by the…

Take action

A criminal record lists the offenses you were arrested for, the offenses you were charged with, and the outcome of the cases including any sentences you received. You need this information to find out if your offenses can be expunged (erased) or sealed (hidden).

You can get records at the Illinois State Police Department, the Chicago Police Department, specific suburban or municipal police departments, specific county sheriff’s department, and the Illinois Circuit Court . Depending on your situation only a few of these steps may be necessary.

Statewide criminal history transcript

You can get a “Statewide Criminal History Transcript” from the Illinois State Police (ISP). This document includes all arrests and convictions that happened in Illinois.

You will need to get your fingerprints taken. You can do this by contacting the ISP here:

Illinois State Police, Bureau of Identification
260 N. Chicago St.
Joliet, IL 60432
Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4 pm
(815) 740-5160 – select option 2

You can also go to any licensed live scan fingerprint vendor. They will take your fingerprints and send your information to the ISP.

If you are homeless , you might be able to get fingerprinted for free. Contact your local law enforcement agency for details.

The ISP will email you an encrypted version of your report. In order to read your report, you’ll need to receive an online permission certificate and an encryption application for your computer or you can pick it up at a later date in the office where you ordered the transcript. Read more about the encryption-approval process.

Learn more about the fees involved.

Access and review

Municipal Chicago – Chicago Police Headquarters

If your arrest was in Chicago, you can get your Chicago RAP Sheet (Record of Arrests and Prosecutions). The RAP sheet is a list of all arrests, charges, and court case outcomes that happened in Chicago.

In person

There is a $16 fee, payable only by cash, check, or money order. While you are there, request a copy of your Illinois State Police Statewide Criminal History Transcript at no additional cost.

Chicago Police Headquarters
3510 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60653
(312) 745-5508

You will need to first go and get your fingerprints taken. The hours for this service are 8:30-12:00 pm, Monday-Friday. While there, you will fill out an envelope with the address you wish to receive the RAP sheet. You will receive your RAP sheet in the mail 7-10 business days from the date you were fingerprinted.

By mail

You can also request your RAP sheet by mail. You will need:

  • A set of your fingerprints from a local police department,
  • A photocopy of your ID,
  • A $16 money order made out to the Department of Revenue,
  • A self-addressed stamped envelope (the RAP sheet will be sent directly to you), and
  • A letter to the Chicago Police Department asking for a copy of your Chicago RAP sheet along with your phone number in case they have questions.

If you’re thinking about applying for a job, hiring someone for your business, or have recently had criminal charges against you dropped, you might want to know how to obtain a criminal record. Whether you need to make corrections to it or conduct a criminal background check for your business, having access to criminal history reports can be very useful.

Why Check a Criminal Record?

Every few years, it is wise to check your own criminal record to make sure that everything’s correct. If there’s an error on your criminal history, you could be barred from employment, licenses, and other government approvals.

Depending on your state’s laws, you may also be able to request other people’s criminal records. You might want to do this if you’re hiring someone to care for a family member, or a similar scenario. When allowing someone into your home to care for your family, knowing their criminal history can help put your mind at ease.

Finally, as an employer, you can typically request criminal background checks on your applicants. Often, you’ll need to acquire the applicant’s permission, or sometimes their fingerprints. You can also use a private background checking company as an alternative.

Criminal History Report Contents

While each state differs in what they provide for different types of criminal record reports, the document will typically include information about any time an individual has been arrested and any dispositions resulting from the offense(s).

Some states differentiate between what you can see on your own criminal record, and what you can see for someone else.

EXAMPLE: In Alaska, the state differentiates its personal versus public criminal records as follows:

  • Your personal record:
    • Past convictions.
    • Current sex offender information.
    • Your criminal identification information (e.g. case and booking numbers).
    • Information about incidents that you WERE NOT convicted of.
    • Sealed/confidential records.
    • Information regarding incarceration.
  • Publicly available records:
    • Past convictions.
    • Current offender information.
    • Criminal identification information.

Name-Based vs. Fingerprint Checks

Some states also have different processes and requirements based on what kind of criminal record check you wish to conduct. You can request a:

  • Name-based check.
    • Typically limited to in-state criminal background only.
    • Does not account for other known names or aliases.
  • Fingerprint-based check.
    • Usually includes information reported to your state under other names or aliases.
    • Also usually reports info from any other state where you lived or were arrested.
      • Often only open to authorized employers.

While a name-based check is typically sufficient when checking your own criminal record, if you’ve recently changed your name and you want to be sure that your criminal record is complete, you may wish to consider using the fingerprint-based method.

When checking someone else’s criminal record, a fingerprint check may be the more efficient choice, as you will receive information for all known names and aliases for that individual. If the national criminal history check is open to you, whether as a private citizen or an employer, this can also give you a wealth of detailed information.

Running a Criminal Record Check

While each state varies its requirements, most follow this general outline:

  • Name-based record checks:
    • Complete and submit your state’s record request application. You may need to have this form notarized.
      • Some states allow you do to this online; others give you the option to mail it in or visit an office location in person.
    • Pay the required record check fee and wait for your results.
  • Fingerprint-based searches:
    • Complete a fingerprint form or card, or obtain the prints from the person you wish to run the check on.
      • You may need to request a packet or application from your state.
      • Some states charge an extra fee for the fingerprint card.
      • If you’re requesting a check on someone else, you may also need their authorization in writing.
    • Provide the required fee for the check, and any extra charges associated with fingerprinting.

Search for your state’s authority on criminal records to determine the exact steps necessary in your specific case. You can also have a third-party vendor conduct the background check for you. If you’re an employer, our guide to Employee Background Checks can give you details on how to obtain a report on potential hires.

Employer-Conducted Background Checks

Some states pose restrictions on which companies can ask for a criminal background check, and the type of information that can be found on it. For information on how to complete the criminal background check process in your state, contact your criminal justice department or other appropriate authority.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) keeps all criminal records. The FDLE provides two types of criminal records:

  1. Personal Review Criminal Record
  2. Certified Criminal Record

Each type is available to you for different purposes.

How to Get Your Personal Review Criminal Record:

Florida law allows you to review your criminal record for free. Only you and your attorney can get this record. It is important to check your record for accuracy. If you think something on your record is wrong, you can submit a “records challenge” to the FDLE. They will investigate and correct your record if necessary.

A Personal Review record is not a Certified Criminal record. That means it cannot be used for immigration, employment, licensing, or skills certification.

Here is how to get your free record for personal review:

  1. Go to the FDLE’s website at Florida Department of Law Enforcement and click on, “Request a Criminal History.
  2. Click on the blue tab labeled, “Personal Review” under “Additional Information” at the bottom.
  3. Click on the blue link also labeled, “Personal Review.” Read this information carefully.
  4. Click on the link for the application form, “Personal Review of Florida Criminal History Record” to complete application.
  5. Get your fingerprints taken at your local law enforcement agency such as your local police department or sheriff’s office. Call them first to make an appointment and to find out what the fee is for fingerprinting.
  6. Mail your completed application and your fingerprint card to this address:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Attn: Criminal History Record Maintenance Section

Post Office Box 1489
Tallahassee, FL 32302-1489

You will receive your criminal record from the FDLE, but it may take up to 30 days. The FDLE will also return your fingerprint card.

How to Get Your Certified Criminal Record:

You can apply to the FDLE for a Certified Criminal record either online or by mail. The FDLE will send your record by return mail. Certified Criminal records are usually required for employment, licensing, certification, immigration, and adoptions.

Each search for a record costs $24. You must use a credit card to pay for a Certified Criminal record online. If you don’t have a credit card, you need to ask for your record by mail.

Here is how to make a request online for a Certified Criminal record:

  1. Go to the FDLE website:Florida Department of Law Enforcement Criminal History Record Check.
  2. Read the general information and click on the blue tab labeled, “Certified Search.”
  3. Click on the blue link labeled, “Certified Florida Criminal History Search.” Follow the directions. The accuracy of your results depends on the accuracy of the information you provide. You must pay a $24 fee by credit card for every search.

You will receive your Certified Criminal record by mail in about a week.

Here is how to make a request by mail for a Certified Criminal record:

  1. Go to the FDLE website:Florida Department of Law Enforcement Criminal History Record Check.
  2. Click on the blue tab labeled, “Search by Mail.”
  3. Click on the blue link labeled, “Criminal History Information Request.” Complete the form online and print it or fill it out by hand.
  4. Send the completed form with your payment (check or money order made out to FDLE) to the address on the form.

Contact for Request to seal your criminal record

Office of the Commissioner of Probation

Phone

The Details of Request to seal your criminal record

What you need for Request to seal your criminal record

Effective Monday, July 20 , 2020, the Office of the Commissioner of Probation will be open to the public by appointment only. If you wish to make an appointment or speak with someone regarding sealing or expunging a record or have questions for the Records Unit, please call (617) 557-0225.

To seal your criminal record, you should file a petition to seal your record. If you’re filing with the Boston Municipal Court (BMC), you can file 3 or more record dismissals and non-criminal court records from 2 or more BMC court divisions at once.

  • For criminal conviction records — Fill out the Petition to seal conviction records form.
  • For cases without convictions — Fill out the Petition to seal non-conviction records form. You can also also include any documents to support your reason for sealing the record in your case. Things the court may consider when deciding whether or not to seal your record include:
    • The particular disadvantage(s) caused because your criminal record is available
    • Evidence of rehabilitation that suggests you could overcome these disadvantages if the record were sealed
    • Any other evidence that sealing would help you overcome these disadvantage(s)
    • Relevant circumstances to you when the offense happened that suggest a likelihood of recidivism (committing another offense) or success
    • The amount of time passed since the offense and the end of the criminal case
    • The nature of and reasons for the particular disposition of the criminal case

It’s also recommended, but not required, that you file:

  • A copy of your criminal record.
    • Adult record — Please see the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) for more information.
    • Juvenile record — Fill out the Personal Massachusetts Juvenile Court Activity Record Information Request Form and send it to the Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS).
  • A certified copy of the court docket of your offenses. You can get a copy of the court docket from the Criminal Clerk’s Office in the court where the case started.

Fees for Request to seal your criminal record

There is no fee to request to seal your criminal record.

How to request Request to seal your criminal record

In person

Request to seal your criminal record in person.

  • For criminal conviction records — File your paperwork with the MPS.
  • For cases without convictions in the District Court — File at the clerk’s office of the District Court where the criminal case you want to seal started.
  • For cases without convictions in the BMC — File at the BMC court division where you live. If you don’t live in the BMC territories anymore, file at the BMC court division where your most recent eligible criminal record is from.

More info for Request to seal your criminal record

After you request to seal your record, there are different processes depending on where you filed.

District Court Department

If you filed in the District Court, a District Court judge will review your petition and any supporting documents. If the judge determines that you haven’t met the requirements to request to seal your criminal record, the judge can deny the petition without a hearing, and you’ll be told in writing. If the judge determines that you’ve met the requirements to request to seal your record, you’ll be told by mail when a court hearing will be held. A copy of the notice will be posted on a court bulletin board for at least 7 days.

You should bring any documents or information (in addition to the ones you previously provided with your petition) that you want the court to consider to the hearing. At the hearing, you’ll be able to tell the court why you think there is good cause to seal your record and how it outweighs the public’s general right to access court documents and information. You may be represented by a lawyer at the hearing if you want. At the end of the hearing on your petition, the judge may issue a decision right away or may take the case under advisement, in which case you’ll be told in writing about the final decision. The clerk’s office will provide a copy of the signed order to you and the chief probation officer. If you disagree with the court’s decision on your request to seal a criminal record, you can appeal the decision to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

Boston Municipal Court

If you filed in the BMC, a judge may conduct a preliminary hearing to determine whether you’ve presented a prima facie case (a first review to see if you’ve met your legal requirements) for sealing your court record(s), or a judge may conduct the review based on your petition. If you don’t meet the legal requirements, your request to seal will be denied.

If you meet the legal requirements, a final hearing will be scheduled. The clerk’s office of the court division conducting the final hearing must post a public notice for at least 7 days that includes the date, time, and location of the final hearing. If you want to seal multiple court records, and you meet the legal requirements, the final hearing must be scheduled no earlier than 30 days but no later than 45 days from the preliminary hearing or when the petition is filed. You must send a copy of your petition to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at least 30 days before the scheduled final hearing. If you don’t send the petition, and the District Attorney’s Office hasn’t waived the 30 days notice, then no criminal records from other court divisions will be sealed at the final hearing.

After the final hearing, if the judge approves your petition, the judge must make specific findings on the court record giving their reason(s) for allowing the record to be sealed. The clerk’s office of the court that approves your petition must give a copy of the order approving your petition to the probation department and to each clerk’s office with criminal case(s) listed on your petition. The Chief Probation Officer of the court that approves your petition will tell the MPS, who will then seal the record(s). If you disagree with the court’s decision on your request to seal a criminal record, you can appeal the decision to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

How to review your criminal record

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With so many employers conducting routine background checks on applicants, it’s nearly impossible to conceal a criminal past. However, this doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of unemployment. As long as you’re honest about your record and can prove to employers that you’ve turned your life around, many will give you the benefit of the doubt.

Describe What You Learned

Many employers will overlook a criminal past if you explain that it inspired you to make positive life changes. Tell the interviewer that your arrest made you realize you were jeopardizing your future and it opened your eyes to what’s important and what you want for the rest of your life. As a result, you ended relationships that had a negative influence on you, entered a 12-step program to break a drug or alcohol addiction, or went back to school to earn your high school diploma or college degree. Mention that you now more carefully consider the long-term consequences of every decision you make.

Put it Behind You

If the offense occurred several years ago, stress to the interviewer that your criminal behavior is a thing of the past. Tell him how long you’ve been sober or add that the incident occurred in your youth and you haven’t offended since. Explain the steps you’ve taken to ensure you stay on the straight and narrow. Mention that you belong to a support group for ex-offenders or that you’re in counseling. Highlight what you’ve accomplished since your arrest. Describe your work as a mentor for at-risk youth or your volunteer work with local nonprofit organizations. Focus on work-related achievements such as quickly earning a promotion at your last job.

Follow the Employer’s Lead

Some interviewers won’t ask if you have a criminal background. Many job applications, for example, only ask about offenses within the preceding five years. Answer the interviewer’ s questions, but don’t volunteer more information than necessary. Some employers only ask about convictions. If authorities dropped the charges or a jury acquitted you, don’t mention the offense. Other employers only ask about felony offenses. If you have a misdemeanor such as a drunk driving charge, you don’t need to tell the employer about it.

Be Honest

Even though you can safely omit some information about your criminal past, you must offer an honest answer when directly asked about it by the interviewer. Don’t lie about your past, even if it was a minor offense or a single occurrence. Many employers conduct background checks, which will reveal the incident. Even if the employer could see past your offense, he likely won’t forgive you if you lie to him. This damages your credibility and prompts the employer to wonder what else you’ve lied about.

See also:

  • What You Should Know About the EEOC and Arrest and Conviction Records
  • Enforcement Guidance on Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Federal law does not prohibit employers from asking about your criminal history. But, federal EEO laws do prohibit employers from discriminating when they use criminal history information. Using criminal history information to make employment decisions may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII).

  1. Title VII prohibits employers from treating people with similar criminal records differently because of their race, national origin, or another Title VII-protected characteristic (which includes color, sex, and religion).
  2. Title VII prohibits employers from using policies or practices that screen individuals based on criminal history information if:
    • They significantly disadvantage Title VII-protected individuals such as African Americans and Hispanics; AND
    • They do not help the employer accurately decide if the person is likely to be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee.

Difference Between Arrest Records and Conviction Records

The fact that an individual was arrested is not proof that he engaged in criminal conduct. Therefore, an individual’s arrest record standing alone may not be used by an employer to take a negative employment action (e.g., not hiring, firing or suspending an applicant or employee). However, an arrest may trigger an inquiry into whether the conduct underlying the arrest justifies such action.

In contrast, a conviction record will usually be sufficient to demonstrate that a person engaged in particular criminal conduct. In certain circumstances, however, there may be reasons for an employer not to rely on the conviction record alone when making an employment decision.

Several states’ laws limit employers’ use of arrest and conviction records to make employment decisions. These laws may prohibit employers from asking about arrest records or require employers to wait until late in the hiring process to ask about conviction records. If you have questions about these kinds of laws, you should contact your state fair employment agency for more information.

Consumer Protections and Criminal Background Checks

Employers that obtain an applicant’s or employee’s criminal history information from consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) also must follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). For example, FCRA requires employers to:

  • Get your permission before asking a CRA for a criminal history report;
  • Give you a copy of the report and a summary of your rights under FCRA before taking a negative employment action based on information in the report.
  • Send you certain notices if it decides not to hire or promote you based on the information in the CRA report.

If you would like to know more about FCRA, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website (the federal agency that enforces FCRA). Or contact the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-832-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.