Accessing Court Records For Background Checking

Although it is true that most of the time it’s better to go by the saying, “what’s past is past,” there are instances when a person’s past greatly affects the direction of his life in the present, especially his professional life. Employers put huge emphasis on a person’s performance in previous jobs, grades earned back in college, and his history as a law-abiding citizen. References can confirm an applicant’s past performance, official transcript of grades provide the grade point average, and court records give a picture of how he functions as a citizen.

If you are an employer, you know the importance of hiring people that are not only competent to ensure success for your company, but also free from current legal troubles to maintain harmony in the workplace. With court records, you will be able to have access to documents pertaining to divorces, battles for child custody, dispute of properties, and other cases. Court records are generally available to the public, so as an employer, you can check out your applicant’s court records (if there are any) in order to have more insight on his character. Take note, though, that some court records are not available to the public as much as you want to be able to access them. When court records are confidential, it means that they contain sensitive information that may possibly be used against the party involved. For example, court records containing medical information, especially psychiatric in nature, are often confidential because the data can be used against to injure (e.g. discriminate against) the person involved.

Nevertheless, there are only a few exceptions to what is not allowed to be disclosed in publicly accessible court records, and the court involved determines what those are. Most of the time, information supplied by the applicant, his lawyer, the other parties involved in their case, and the other parties’ lawyers is included in court records for the public to see.

Court records are kept for long periods of time because they are official documents that are referenced to frequently. Thus, you can go way, way back when you are accessing your applicant’s court records. However, because of the old age of court records, many of them are in paper format. Only more recent court records are stored electronically. If you want access to court records on paper, you usually have to send a letter of request for copies. You must also provide payment for the copies and for shipping. If you prefer regular mail, you can send in a self-addressed envelope with the necessary stamps for good measure. Another way to access the court records is to visit the archives office if accessible and if your need is urgent.

Court records stored online are easier to access because you can view them at the comfort of your own office, using your own computer. Before sending letters of request or visiting the archives office, it’s advisable to check online first to see if your applicant’s court records are readily available online.

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