What's the difference between the multi-jurisdictional search and other searches? Why would I pay for a county or state search if I can run the multi-jurisdictional search?

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Though a multi-jurisdictional search sounds impressive, it is a basic database search, and the primary product being sold by background check vendors. This search is often represented as having value beyond its actual worth. The multi-jurisdictional database search has significant limitations, the most important of which is incomplete data (not all records are available, some record sources are not computerized, some states/counties do not sell records, etc.). If your organization is not limited by budgetary concerns, it is highly recommended that you consider a search that adds additional search components – particularly county searches.

The majority of child sexual abuse and violent crime records are maintained at the county level. Given the weaknesses of the multi-jurisdictional database search, the best method of gathering county criminal records is to request those records directly from the county record-keeper. A County of Residence Report is an effort to hand-retrieve county criminal records by a nationwide network of experienced court researchers. The county criminal records search reports felony and misdemeanor convictions within the past 7 years, in accordance with FCRA regulations. This search is limited to the applicant’s current county of residence. If the applicant is new to the county or lives/works in an area serving several counties, an organization may request additional counties for a hand-retrieved county search. Further, the Social Security Trace will reveal the applicants' past addresses – instructive if an organization wishes to undertake a hand-retrieved county search of past counties of residence. Additional county searches will incur additional fees per county, and fees may vary from county to county.

The federal court (or state-wide) search is relevant in identifying arrests and/or convictions for charges related to child pornography, as well as white-collar and financial crimes relevant for screening management and executive candidates. Some employment contracts require federal criminal records searches as an element of a comprehensive screening package.

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