The History of Public Records

History. Our lineage. Our heritage. From the long, deep roots of our family trees to the most recent recorded event that took place. How does anybody keep track of all this stuff? Records. Humans have been keeping records for a very long time. The earliest information found regarding ancient civilizations came in the form of cave paintings. Early humanity kept records and shared information in the form of drawings and symbols carved or colored into rock walls.

We have come a long way as a people. Modern technology has replaced rocks and hematite for most of us. Today we do things a bit differently. It seems like everything is connected to the World Wide Web. This means obtaining records and finding public information is easier and more convenient than ever.

What would YOU like to know?

The information is probably available if you look in the right places.

Table Of Contents:

Public Records - What do We Know?

Why are records so important? What would we know without them? The only detailed information we know about our past is available to us through records. If everything relied on our memories alone, things would be very confusing. Even the science we depend on for answers today was shaped by records that the earth kept within its rocks, trees, mountains, and landscapes.

What we know now is that when we write things down and take notes we are more apt to remember details correctly. When we get together as a group and create official records that have dates, times, and signatures we build a foundation of information that is available to anyone and everyone who knows how to find it.

This information can track back to whenever an event first started and keep going until whenever it ends. This is known as record keeping. The word “record” translates as if to record something (like a cassette tape if you’re that old). When these records are deemed public information they become public records, some of them are confidential, but most are not.

And there are a lot of them.

What are Public Records?

When we use the term “public record” we tap into a wide variety of definitions. The simple way to explain public records is to use an example.

First:

Let’s say, for instance, you purchase a home. When you buy property the government gets involved.

Second:

The whole transaction gets recorded and noted within the governing factor of the area that the home is located in. It could be the county, or parish, depending on which state the transaction happens in. The details of the sale are reported as facts and officially kept as records. Most of the transactions, agreements, and everything else that the government gets involved with are recorded and made public.

There are, however, confidential records that are not available for the public to see. In a nutshell, public records are government records that are available for everyone to view.

There are many transactions that could be deemed as public records, but here are some examples of events that are known as public records:

  • Birth records
  • Marriage records
  • Licensing records
  • Court records
  • Property records
  • Financial records
  • Death records
  • Statistical data
  • Court records
  • Warrant records
  • Arrest records

Of course, these are just examples. Basically, anything the government keeps records of is public record. Email conversations, lunch transactions. You name it. Because of the need for transparency within our government, it is the law that we have access to these records. It is within this law that we are allowed to obtain knowledge about anybody who has had any transaction with the government. Arrests. Convictions. Driving Records. Whatever.

Search SpyFly’s nationwide public records and receive a comprehensive consumer background report from just a name and state.

Searching for Public Records

There are literally tens of millions of Americans that search for public records every day.

Knowledge is power.

There are a number of reasons why somebody would choose to discover information about a specific person or group of people. Say, for example, your daughter started dating some guy or girl that you have a bad feeling about.

If you have enough information about them to perform a public record search and could do it without their knowledge wouldn’t it be amazing?

Keeping yourself safe on a personal level, and even in business is a wise choice. Finding public record information regarding an individual can provide a lot of information.

Anyone can search public records to:

Doing a public record search can give you a fresh, honest glimpse of the person you are looking at. Your neighbor, your friend, even your boss at work. Who are they, really?

Where and When Did Public Records Start?

Humanity may never know precisely how and where the art of keeping records started. Science believes that our own DNA started keeping records long before we were aware of such things in order to evolve into what we are now.

Regardless of where you stand on the opinion of science, one thing is for sure. Record keeping has been in play for a very long time. The ancient Babylonians kept records using cuneiform writing on clay tablets. They would keep records of who they traded with, and laws that were established.

In the United States, concerned citizens came to the conclusion that the government needed to be transparent in all of their business dealings in order to ensure they were being fair and legal. This is how the Freedom of Information Act, also known as FOIA, came into the picture in 1967.

The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, gives the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. This means that by law anybody can request access to public records for any reason. It doesn’t matter if the records are new or old, or what agency they come from. Access to public records is obtainable for anybody and everybody who seeks it unless the records are protected by law.

Although this Act was formulated in order to provide clarity within government policies and activities there are some records that can not be accessed publicly in order to protect national security, privacy, and other special circumstances.

Why Do We Need the FOIA?

Believe it or not, government officials are people too. Sometimes when people get put in charge they forget they are only people and try to do everything their own way. When a person of power has an agenda and has a lot of supporters behind that agenda the easiest way to force that agenda is to do it in secret.

If nobody knows it is going on, who can oppose it?

The best way to get a handle on tyranny and corruption is to keep an eye on it. With this act in place, it helps to keep secrets down to a minimum.

Here’s what happened:

According to The History Channel in 1955 John Moss, a Democrat, tried to investigate why several thousand federal employees were fired for apparently being “communists.” When Mr. Moss attempted to view the records that explained the dismissals, he was denied access.

This prompted him to advocate for transparency for all government practices.

Secrecy within the government seemed to be getting out of hand. Moss felt as if secrecy would threaten the security of the whole country and could end up giving an individual with shady interests enough leverage to change the government from a democracy to a dictatorship. The obvious solution was to have laws in place that gave the public access to records that would otherwise be secret.

Search SpyFly’s nationwide public records and receive a comprehensive consumer background report from just a name and state.

Access to Public Records is Born

Of course, just like many other things, a small shift in the system created a monumental change in the way our government handles everything. On July 4th, 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act. According to the National Security Archive, the president refused to have an official and formal ceremony to welcome the new law into the United States.

Did Lyndon Johnson want to keep things secret?

He most definitely may have, however, things were about to change. In time the bill gained steam and in 1967 began to provide the public with the right to request access to records from any federal agency.

According to investopedia.com, a federal agency is defined as “a special government organization set up for a specific purpose such as the management of resources, financial oversight of industries, or national security issues.”

What FOIA Means to You

You or anybody else can request records from any government agency. Here is a list of some of the agencies that are required to share information:

  • U.S Agency for International Development
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of State
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Justice
  • National Science Foundation
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy

What this means is that any of these agencies have to, unless protected by law, show records of transactions, discussions, and other information when asked. If there is any suspicion of corruption or waste records will most likely prove innocence or guilt.

Is the Government Corrupt?

Find out for yourself by using your right to information under the FOIA. The Freedom of Information Act Statute explains, in detail, the ins and outs of the whole Act and how it can be used to see through the veil of our government and all of its business.

Freedom of Information and Public Records Evolve

After the Watergate scandal in 1974, congress got serious about government transparency. There were many new requirements and sanctions that got brought in by the House and the Senate. President Ford believed that the new sanctions were unconstitutional and posed security threats and vetoed the new amendments. His veto was quickly overridden by the House and the Senate. The new statutes came into effect.

Government secrets can result in genocide

History proves that any government needs to be held accountable. Things like the holocaust, slavery, and the slaughter of indigenous Americans remind us that the potential for horrible acts in the name of greed and control are very real possibilities if the leaders are not watched carefully and kept honest.

FOIA Regulations and States

Oh, what a tangled web we weave. The Federal Government is a gigantic entity. In laymen’s terms, Federal means the whole country of the United States. The USA is broken down into regions, states, counties, parishes, cities, boroughs, neighborhoods, etc. Although each state belongs to the United States, they all have their own laws regarding public information. Within each state, every county or parish has its own way of conducting public record access regulations.

FOIA does not control the states

Although the federal government is the authority when it comes to freedom of information laws and regulations, each state is granted a certain level of autonomy when it comes to how they dictate access to public records. What this means is that every state has its own laws in regard to the freedom of information. This can make it difficult to find certain records.

So, how do you find public records?

Finding Public Records

There is a difference between searching for public records and finding them. SpyFly comes in handy when you need to find information about a specific person, but have no idea of their past. Since there are tens of thousands of agencies throughout the United States that all keep their own records it can be difficult to find anything, unless you know exactly where to look. SpyFly has access to thousands of databases all around the country that hold tons of state, county, city, parish, and everything in between records.

Is it legal though?

It depends on why you are looking for it, and what you are going to do with it. Public records are available for the public to view unless legally specified otherwise. If you are searching the SpyFly database for reasons regarding hiring an employee or renting a place to a tenant, it is against the law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is in place to protect consumers. According to the laws that are in place SpyFly is not an accurate source of information to use to make choices regarding employment, housing, and other instances. This is what we have to say about gathering information for any purposes other than informational:

SpyFly is not a consumer reporting agency as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), and the information in the databases has not been collected in whole or in part for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports, as defined in the FCRA. YOU SHALL NOT USE OUR SERVICES AS A FACTOR IN (1) ESTABLISHING AN INDIVIDUAL'S ELIGIBILITY FOR PERSONAL CREDIT OR INSURANCE OR ASSESSING RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH EXISTING CONSUMER CREDIT OBLIGATIONS, (2) EVALUATING AN INDIVIDUAL FOR EMPLOYMENT, PROMOTION, REASSIGNMENT OR RETENTION (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO EMPLOYMENT OF HOUSEHOLD WORKERS SUCH AS BABYSITTERS, CLEANING PERSONNEL, NANNIES, CONTRACTORS, AND OTHER INDIVIDUALS), OR (3) ANY OTHER PERSONAL BUSINESS TRANSACTION WITH ANOTHER INDIVIDUAL (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LEASING AN APARTMENT).

Here's the deal...

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was put into effect in 1970 by the Federal Government. It regulates the kind of information that credit reporting agencies are allowed to collect and share with third parties when they request an applicant’s credit history. This law is in place so that any information that is presented before an entity such as a lender, a landlord, or an employer is accurate and fair. This way any decision, theoretically, will be based on an honest account of the applicant.

Because of this, SpyFly wants every user to understand that the information that is available in the databases is only to be used for informational purposes. This means that when you learn sensitive information about a person by running a search it is solely for the purpose of knowledge. Knowledge is power, so be wise with what you learn. Not only is it against the law to use this type of information for making credit related decisions, it is unfair. If anybody and everybody’s information is available here, it means yours is too. Think about that before you judge. Make your credit and hiring decisions based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act laws.

What Kind of People Search Public Records?

For the most part, people who search public records are regular people that want the facts. Some people want to know if the person they are hanging around with is a convicted sex offender. Sometimes people want to know if the person they are dating has a history of domestic violence. People from all over the United States search for the truth every day. Everybody has a right to know if they are in danger. People who use the tools available to stay safe are one step ahead of the game and less apt to fall prey to anybody in their circle. Cautious people that are willing to take extra steps to ensure safety for themselves and their loved ones.

People who want to avoid tragedy

The story of Megan Nicole Kanka, the young girl behind Megan’s Law, is a perfect example of the kind of power that SpyFly has to offer. The details of this case are disgusting and horrible. A 7 year old girl became victim to a convicted sex offender that lived right across the street from her in Hamilton Township, N.J. The offender, Jesse Timmendequas, had been convicted on two previous sexual crimes that involved children then quietly released back into the community.

Megan’s parents, Maureen and Richard Kanka were not aware that the guy across the street was a known pedophile. In fact, they never dreamed in a million years that their daughter would go out on her bike to play and end up being brutally raped and murdered by a neighbor. If they would have known that their child was in danger, they would have done everything they possibly could to keep her away from her assailant.

This is where being aware comes in handy

Nobody should ever have to be concerned about things like this, but the sad truth is that there are some sick people in the world. Most of these sickos would rather keep what they have done a secret so that nobody knows the truth about them. This is how running a simple background check can be such a huge life-saver. SpyFly allows secrets to become uncovered and possible threats to be exposed. We may not be able to read minds and tell the future, but we definitely can shed some light on the past.

Search SpyFly’s nationwide public records and receive a comprehensive consumer background report from just a name and state.

Are you ready for the truth?

What do People Find in Searches?

When you undertake a search into a person’s past, be prepared for anything. You never know what you will discover. SpyFly’s databases are full of records of all types. Arrest records, bankruptcy records, criminal convictions, sex offenses, traffic violations and many other instances that have been recorded over the years. Many people have had a hunch about somebody that was close to them and went on a search to find answers. Much to their dismay they learned that their friend had been convicted of theft, sexual assult, or even murder. However, many others find nothing out of the ordinary besides traffic violations and such. The records are real, up to date, and available to anybody who wants to see them.

The Demographics of Searchers

Real data is the source of all truths. We like authentic data. Over the years we have kept the data that we have collected regarding searches from people in different states around the nation. Below we have a few illustrations that will show you just how many people use SpyFly and the percentages of people that they actually find records of in their searches.

It is easy to see that people from all over the country use our databases. Here is one example of Arrest searches by each state in our public record search database. This shows the percentage of people that have records of arrest AND have had a search run on them:

Arrest Record Search Arrest Record Search

What these graphs mean:

When you look at the information on the graphs above and below you will see bars that represent the states, and the percentages associated with each one. The percentages do not represent the number of people in that state that have had arrests or bankruptcies.

What this shows is the percentage of people who had reports run on them that actually had records to be found. For instance, if 20 names in Arizona that had record searches conducted resulted in 10 of the 20 names with records it would mean 50% of the people searched had that type of public record.

We work hard to keep these records updated so that public record searches using SpyFly’s database actually get you the information you are looking for and they are accurate, as well as up to date.

Bankruptcy Record Search Bankruptcy Record Search

What to do With Uncovered Truths

SpyFly does provide information that some people would rather be kept secret. However, this information is public information. It is available for anybody to see if they take the time to look for it. In most cases, finding public records involves visiting the recorder’s office, paying some fees, and spending a few hours looking through whatever records are available in that particular office. Essentially, to find records regarding a specific person you could have to travel to every recorder’s office in the United States to get answers. SpyFly cuts through all of the other nonsense and allows users to find exactly what they are looking for from within any city in the US without the rest of the headaches.

It’s not a secret

With that being said, the information that you find is not secret information. Court records, arrest records, financial histories, and all other types of public records take time to be processed and recorded. This means that the person with the record has been to court or some other kind of process that the government was involved in. Most likely, if it is a crime that they had committed, they have already been convicted and sentenced for it. If you discover a history of criminal activity, do not go and confront the person. Unless they have an active warrant, are on probation or parole, or are breaking the law right in front of you there is nothing legally that you can do other than be wary and keep an eye out.

What to do if you find criminal history:

Remain calm: Remember if you find information about a person it is already public information and is not new. Although it may be new to you, it is already recorded by the law. If you suspect the person is up to no good or is involved in illegal activities you should call the police.

Trust your gut: Although the person has already done their time and it is all over it does not mean that they are safe for your kids or other loved ones to be around. Now that you have an idea of their past you can steer clear of them, or not. If you have no choice but to be around them you can set boundaries and explain to them why you are concerned.

Refrain from gossiping: When you find information regarding a person it is better if you keep it to yourself. You could let your neighbors know about SpyFly and suggest that they use it to find answers, however, allow them to come to their own conclusions. As mentioned before, the information that you find in the databases is for informational purposes only and should not be used to defame others, or make judgments.

Search SpyFly’s nationwide public records and receive a comprehensive consumer background report from just a name and state.

How to Search Public Records

Searching for public records has never been easier. Thanks to modern technology and a few brilliant minds, SpyFly is able to draw data from several different sources and bring it right to users quickly and easily. You could go ahead and try all of the other supposed reliable methods, but eventually, you will learn the truth: There is no better way to find records than SpyFly.

In ancient times...

Before online search platforms became available, finding public records was not an easy thing to accomplish. Finding records meant knowing details of the records. In most cases, you would have to know which agency was holding the records. For instance, if you wanted some public record information regarding a guy that lived in your neighborhood, you would have to know what state, and what county or parish his records were located in. You would have to contact that agency and request access to those records. If you were lucky, and you knew enough information you could get access to the information after you paid a fee.

As time progressed...

Online searches became more and more popular as the internet started to grow. If you knew the county or parish of record that the person you were searching about had records in, you could do an online search for that county and find their website. Once you found it you could look to see if there is anywhere on their website to do a public record search. In some cases, the county or parish would allow online access to all of the public records that were available. This may be true in some places today, however, most websites like this make it very difficult to access records and charge a fee to even look.

In today’s times…

As the demand for public knowledge grows, so do the sources for it. If you do an online search for finding public records you will find literally thousands of places that say they can deliver all of the public records you could ever want. A good number of those places will have access to a lot of information and will be able to provide most records. However, most are unable to provide much of anything and only want your credit card information so that they can get your money. The best way to get access to fresh public information is to be a member of SpyFly and simply log in to your account From there, all you need to do is to navigate to the search area and type in the name of the person you are searching about. Within minutes you will have access to any public record information that is available. This will include things like warrants, arrests, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and so on.

Are Arrest Records Public?

Any time a person gets officially arrested the government makes a record of it. The record includes details such as the name, birthdate, address, and other identifying information as well as the charges that have been filed against the person. Some arrest records can be public, while others are deemed private and can not be viewed by the public. Whether or not the arrest records are public depends on the state of the arrest and the laws that are in place regarding that particular person and crime.

Private Arrest Records

In some circumstances when a person is arrested, but not gone to trial for the crime, certain states can block public access to the records for security reasons. If there is a high-profile case where there is a risk of pushing a verdict one way or the other because of prejudice, the courts can choose to withhold the information until the trial is over and the case is done.

Arrest Records in General

Arrest records in general are not a solid source of information. Yes, they provide information regarding the arrestee, the crime, and the arrest details. However, they can be very old and very misinformative. Many times when the police arrest a person they are not sure of the exact crime that had taken place. In order to make sure that one of the charges actually sticks through the trial they get creative and pile several charges onto one charge. For instance, if somebody is driving under the influence of alcohol and they get into an accident with another car, the police could charge the person with drunk driving, and assault with a deadly weapon. An arrest record does not mean that the person actually committed the crime.

Arrests vs Convictions

We already know that when somebody gets arrested for a crime that they automatically generate an arrest record. We also already know that arrests can be for whatever reason the police deem appropriate for the alleged crime. Being arrested for a crime is only being accused of that crime. When somebody is convicted for a crime it means that they went through the court system and were either found guilty by a jury, or they admitted guilt out of their own free will. This is the difference between fact and speculation. An arrest is only when the courts speculate that a person has committed a crime. A conviction is when the courts prove that the person committed the crime that was only speculation, to begin with.

Finding Arrest Records

You can find arrest records in a few different ways. You could call the court office where you suspect the arrest records are and go through the motions to request access, pay the fee, and wait. You could do an internet search and find out if the court office that the arrest took place in has a public database that you can search through. You can also do it the easy way and search for arrest records on SpyFly.

How To Find Arrest Records?

Finding arrest records can be a bit tricky sometimes. If you do it the old fashioned way, you have to know where the arrest happened and what court you have to contact for the information. Each city in every state has its own way of dealing with arrests. Most states are made up of counties and cities where courthouses conduct all of the legal business. A couple of states, Louisiana and Alaska are a little different. Louisiana has parishes and Alaska has boroughs. All of these are similar and each handle the court systems in their own ways. If you are looking for arrest records, you have to determine where the records are.

Arrest Record Information

When a law enforcement agency makes an arrest there are several factors that get taken into consideration during the process. Is the accused individual a threat to themselves, or the general public? Are they under the influence of drugs or alcohol? What kind of crime are they accused of doing? The arresting officer will record every little detail regarding the arrestee that comes into view. Whether or not this information becomes available to the public is hard to determine. In general, the information that is included in an arrest record will be the personal information of the person arrested including name, birthdate, and address. Also they will include whatever charges have been brought against them with any evidence that could help to convict the suspect.

Contacting Court Records

As mentioned above, each state, county and city has its own method for keeping and recording records. If you want to find arrest records regarding a certain individual you will have to contact the office of record where the person was arrested. This, of course, is the hard way. If you are unsure of where the person has been in trouble, you will have a hard time pinpointing their arrest records. In most cases, any time you try to access records through a county office you will have such a hard time it will seem impossible. You will have to go through all of the “proper channels” in order to even get close to finding public information.

Try a Google Search

You can attempt to do a Google search to find somebody’s arrest records. There is a small chance that you will actually find them. Sometimes counties have their own websites with a public information portal that users can do searches through. As technology grows more and more a part of our everyday lives, the organizations that run the country are taking advantage of it. Many cities and counties throughout the country have their own databases that house public record information that is easy to access and doesn’t cost much. The biggest drawback with this is that you have to know exactly which county website to look at.

SpyFly is the Easiest Way

When you sign up with SpyFly you get instant access to unlimited background searches and can find anybody’s arrest records within minutes. All you have to do is type in the name of the person and you will find all of the information that you could want about them. SpyFly already knows what city, county, state and country the person has records in so all of the heavy search lifting is already done for you before you even start.

Search SpyFly’s nationwide public records and receive a comprehensive consumer background report from just a name and state.

What Does a Criminal Look Like?

It would be so much easier for the police to do their jobs if criminals had a certain look to them. All people would have to do is look at a person and know whether or not they are engaged in illegal activities. It doesn’t work that way, however. Judging somebody by the way that they look can destroy a great relationship before it even starts. The ugly, scary-looking guy standing next to you could very well save your life. Or the life of your loved one.

There are a lot of stereotypes in practice regarding race and gender, even still today. If you believe that race and status may determine whether or not somebody is a criminal, think about it. Martin Luther King Jr was a black man. Charles Manson was white. Which one was a criminal? How about Martha Stewart, and Snoop Dog? Which one of these two is a convicted felon? What a twisted world we live in. A society that assumes that people can be labeled as something just by the way they look.

What exactly defines a criminal anyway? If a person has multiple felony convictions that are over 20 years old but owns a home and a business is that person a criminal? What about an impoverished young mother that steals food from the grocery store to feed her children? Is she a criminal? The questions can go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that most people label other people as criminals because they do not know any better. A criminal is a person that lives a life in a criminal manner. They make a living out of illegal means or settle disputes illegally. They even try to control masses of people by means that are unethical and definitely illegal.

Criminals can be dirty people with torn clothes that live under bridges, or in abandoned homes. They can be men, women, transexuals, gender-neutral, or even children. They can be any race, from any country. They can dress in expensive suits, or jeans and wife-beaters. They can claim to be part of whatever religious establishment that they see fit. Some criminals never even get caught.

When you do a criminal background check on a person, you can learn a lot about them, and about the way that their case was handled. Public records are in place so that our country can keep the government in check. Without having documented records and thorough accountability our own government can turn into criminals. As we discussed above, governments have proven to be vulnerable to corruption unless they are monitored and held accountable. Many times people focus on the person with the record as opposed to how the government handled the situation. Public records are there for a reason. When you search for a criminal, make sure you take the extra time to verify that they actually are a criminal before you put a label on them. But still, keep yourself safe and know who you are around.

How Long are Criminal Records Available to the Public?

When a person gets pulled into the legal system and has their incident recorded into the book of records it stays forever. There is no amount of time that will allow for a person’s criminal record to be erased from history. Unless the end of time comes and destroys everything. At this point in the History of America, every record that gets recorded stays recorded. Whether or not the general public has access to these records, is a different story.

Criminal Convictions

Criminal convictions can be for a plethora of offenses. Different states have different laws regarding what a criminal offense is. For instance, commercialized prostitution and gambling are perfectly legal in the State of Nevada, but in Utah, these would be considered criminal offenses. There are different degrees of convictions as well. There are felony convictions and misdemeanor convictions. Either one of these convictions can stay on your record for as long as time allows. Although felonies are considered to be serious criminal offenses, misdemeanors will stay on a criminal record just as long.

Sealed Records

When a person that has criminal records wants to have those records sealed, there are a number of legal channels that they have to go through in order to make it happen. Getting a record “expunged” is supposed to be the same as erasing the event from the record book. When records are “sealed” what really happens is that there is a note placed by the record that indicates it is sealed and off-limits unless there is a court order that specifies the records can be looked at.

A Government Pardon

A person that has been convicted of a crime can request a pardon from the government. A pardon can either be given by the President of the United States for a federal case, or the governor of the state that the crime was committed in for a state offense. The records of the case will, by no means, be erased or deleted. These records are noted as an offense that is to be “looked over” or “forgiven” by the government.

What is a Criminal History?

We hear about people with criminal histories on the news all of the time. What does it mean? If we are speaking in terms of a person with a history of arrests for various crimes that they have not been convicted for, is it a criminal history?

What about a person that has been involved with numerous crimes over a span of many years, but has not been caught; do they have a criminal history?

This is where the system of record keeping comes in handy. When we keep records we can see the recorded past and look at the details of them. If somebody takes the time to see that a person with arrests has no convictions they may think that they don’t have a criminal history. But considering the number of arrests, this may be a person that is prone to habitual illegal activities.

Criminal Activity

For a person that is involved with criminal activity that has not been caught yet, there is no way to tell what they have been up to unless somebody brings it to light. Several criminals get arrested for their crimes because someone else got in trouble and made a deal for a lighter sentence by testifying that they also committed the crime or similar crimes.

Although there may not be an official court record of the criminal activity, the people that the criminal associates with have records of their own.

When people commit crimes on a continual basis there are records of it, and these can be found through SpyFly’s criminal search tool. If they do have a criminal history, and it’s public, it is findable by our search tool.

A criminal history could be made up of a series of:

  • Arrests
  • Court appearances
  • No contest pleas
  • Found guilty
  • Guilty Pleas
  • Misdemeanor convictions
  • Felony convictions

Any one of the above categories could be considered part of a criminal history, whether or not the person actually ever committed a crime. This is one reason why the courts have to be careful about the way they handle criminal cases. A perfectly innocent person could be arrested on charges that never even happened, then the arrest could stay on file for as long as the courts allow it to.

This is why the Fair Credit Reporting Act is in place. Only a certain kind of information is legally allowed to be taken into consideration when it comes to hiring people, renting to people, or giving people credit.

In many states a background check for a job is only supposed to go back a certain amount of years, and the only thing visible can be solid convictions of crimes, not mere arrests. Some people are innocent and some are convicted in our current justice system. Public record simply records the findings and the history of all public offices in the United States.

As for criminal history, it can mean different things for different people.

What is crime? In some states it is a crime to be in possession of marijuana. In some states it is perfectly legal to grow, possess, and use maijuana. In California, it is perfectly fine to have marijuana in your possession, but in New York, you might go to jail for this.

The justice system has been around since our nation was founded, and ultimately it is guided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court mandates laws for the entire United States - which is considered federal law. Then there are individual state laws set by each state’s highest court at the state level. Crimes depend on the court’s respective rulings, therefore, a crime can actually vary from state to state.

What is a Warrant?

There are numerous definitions of the word “warrant” in the dictionary. A warrant can be a financial security that acts as an agreement on a fixed price for the stock in a company. “Warrant” can also be used as a verb in terms of putting a guarantee on an object or a situation. A“warrant” can also be an authorization of an action. It is a word with many faces, but the one thing that stands out about the word “warrant” is that it gets attention and respect.

Most people do not want warrants.

Probably the most common use for the word “warrant” is to describe an official document that gives authority for an action to take place. When a judge signs a warrant into action it means that law enforcement has the authority to take action against the person that is named on the document in whatever fashion that the warrant stipulates. There are different types of warrants that a judge can issue on an individual. The most widely known are:

  • Arrest Warrants
  • Bench Warrants
  • Search Warrants
  • DNA Warrants

Various states have different terms for a plethora of warrant types, but the above-mentioned ones are the most notorious. Once any of these warrants becomes active, it will not go away until the matter is resolved in the court of law.

Arrest Warrants

Arrest warrants are probably the most feared and familiar type of legal warrant. What usually occurs is when an officer of the law determines that a crime has been committed and that there is sufficient evidence that shows that a particular person was involved with the crime the officer will present the evidence to a judge in order to obtain a warrant for the arrest of that person. When the judge signs the warrant it is then activated. The person named on that warrant will be put under arrest when the police come into contact with them.

Bench Warrants

A bench warrant is when a judge signs a warrant into action from the bench. This usually happens when a person fails to appear for a court hearing. It can be because of civil case court hearings, traffic court hearings, child custody hearings or many other hearings. If a person fails to show up for a mandated court hearing and a judge issues a bench warrant they are subject to being put under arrest and taken to jail.

Search Warrants

A search warrant is signed into action when a judge finds enough probable cause to search a suspect’s home for evidence of a crime. Because of the Fourth Amendment, American citizens are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Although there are various ways that the law enforcement agencies can get around this clause, it does help to regulate the way that the authorities are allowed by law to search people and the property of people. In most cases, if the judge signs a search warrant, it is because they are certain there is a cause for it.

Search SpyFly’s nationwide public records and receive a comprehensive consumer background report from just a name and state.

DNA Warrants

DNA is the cellular fingerprint of all beings on this planet. Modern science has allowed for law enforcement to identify people and link them to crime scenes by way of hair or bodily fluids that have been left behind at the scene. A judge can issue a warrant for a suspect to provide a sample of their DNA to the court so that they can compare it with evidence found at a crime scene.

In the event that you or somebody that you know has a warrant of any type, it is best to contact an attorney with any questions. Since a warrant is a legal document signed by a judge there will have to be some sort of hearing to satisfy it. Either the subject will go through the court system and face the judge, or the judge will officially dismiss it if the situation calls for it.

What other Public Records can be searched online?

Keep reading below for all the different types of public records that can be found using our search tool.

Are Divorce Records Public?

In most states divorce records, and marriage records are considered public information, however, many of the record details within them are considered vital information. Some of the types of records that are considered vital are:

  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Birth
  • Divorce
  • Citizenship

Although divorce records in some states are considered public records, they may be harder to find and glean information from than other records.

Are Police Reports Public Records?

Each state is subject to the public records laws that were developed in the FOIA act, however, each state has its own laws and guidelines that regulate the visibility of these records. Depending on the dynamics of the case there could be files that are exempt from public disclosure. Some things that could prevent the public from viewing police records are:

  • Endangering a person’s life
  • Contaminating evidence for a case
  • Police not providing requested records

Every state has its own way of handling police records, public information, and disclosure of public documents.

Search SpyFly’s nationwide public records and receive a comprehensive consumer background report from just a name and state.

Are Wills Public Record?

A will is considered a private document until the person who wrote it dies. The person who wrote their official last will and testament is also known as the testator. After this person passes and the will gets filed with the probate court, the document becomes a public record. In order for a will to become a public record

  • A will has to have been written
  • The testator of the will has to have passed away
  • The will has to be filed with the probate court in the county of death

If a person that passes away has not written a will there will be no record of that will available.

Are Birth Certificates Public Record?

Birth certificates are public record in some states after a period of time. For example, in Texas, all birth records become public records after 75 years, unless somebody has had them sealed from the public beforehand. In most cases, birth records are considered vital records and there are certain stipulations that have to be met in order to acquire them. Some of these requirements could be:

  • You have to be the person on the birth certificate
  • You have to be an immediate family member
  • You have to be a parent of the person

If you would like to know if birth certificates are public records in your state, contact your local recorder’s office and ask.

Are Marriage Licenses Public Record?

Marriage licenses are considered public records, however, most states consider them as vital records and do not allow the public to view them. Anybody can request copies of the marriage license, but whether or not the record’s office will grant the copies depends on the laws that govern the area. Generally, public records are:

  • Arrest records
  • Court records
  • Lawsuit records
  • Bankruptcy records
  • Criminal records

Public records that are considered vital records are:

  • Death records
  • Marriage records
  • Divorce records
  • Birth records

Are Death Records Public?

Every state has its own laws that regulate how death records are handled. Yes, they are public records, however, they are considered vital records and are protected by law. Some states will allow the public to view public records, other states will only allow certain people to see the records in order to protect the privacy of citizens. In most states the records that are considered public and available for all to view are:

  • Criminal records
  • Sex offender records
  • Arrest records
  • Court proceedings
  • Lawsuits

Death records are not as easy to get as other types of public records because they can contain sensitive private information.

Are Restraining Orders Public?

Restraining orders are considered public information, especially when they are put into place in order to prevent domestic violence. Anybody can go into the court’s recording office of the restraining order and ask for a copy of it. Unless the document has been sealed, anybody is able to view it. In order to protect people from harm, a restraining order can be requested against a person if there are threats like:

  • Stalking
  • Harassing
  • Physical Harm
  • Physical Attacks
  • Threatening

Are 911 Calls Public Record?

Yes, 911 calls are considered public records. However, some states make it harder than others for people to obtain access to them. In most cases, you can request the county or court office that the emergency happened for access to the recording. Circumstances that could prevent the general public from hearing emergency calls are:

  • Potential threats to the public
  • Potential incrimination that could cause court bias
  • The presence of private information
  • Records have been sealed

Emergency calls are considered public information because they can be a way for the public to view exactly how the government handles emergencies.


Citations/References:

Kennedy, L (2019) The Prehistoric Ages : How Humans Lived Before Written Records The History Channel Website
https://www.history.com/news/prehistoric-ages-timeline

Christian, D Recordkeeping and History Khan Academy
https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/big-history-project/agriculture-civilization/first-cities-appear/a/recordkeeping-and-history

Public Libraries Authors (2020) Public Records Public Libraries
https://publiclibraries.com/public-records/

Office of Information Policy U.S. Department of Justice, What is FOIA? FOIA Website
https://www.foia.gov/about.html

History.com Editors (2018) Freedom of Information Act, History
https://www.history.com/topics/1960s/freedom-of-information-act

Blanton, T (2006) Freedom of Information at 40, LBJ Refused Ceremony - Undercut Bill with Signing Statement, National Security Archive
https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAEBB/NSAEBB194/index.htm

The National Security Archive Editors, FOIA Legislative History National Security Archive
https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//nsa/foialeghistory/legistfoia.htm

Kenton, W. 2020 What is a Federal Agency? Investopedia
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/federal-agencies.asp

Editors of EFF.org History of FOIA Electronic Frontier Foundation
https://www.eff.org/issues/transparency/history-of-foia

The Federal Trade Commission Fair Credit Reporting Act
https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/statutes/fair-credit-reporting-act

History.com Editors 2009 Man charged in murder of Megan Kanka
https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/man-charged-in-murder-of-megan-kanka

HG.org Writers Are Arrest Records Public?
https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/are-arrest-records-public-36914