People looking for records from the Washington State Justice Department and Courts have several options to choose from. If you are interested in a basic background check, Washington being an open records state, you can get all the information you need from the WATCH program maintained by Washington State Patrol. In fact, employers and applicants only need to pay a nominal fee of $10 for access to all criminal records in the name of the subject.
Government sources of information on criminal and court records
If you need background checks conducted for employment purposes, when making a hiring decision or applying for a position, it would be best to go to an official source. Particularly when seeking a job that requires you to submit background information; most of these employers will require you to furnish a notarized copy of your criminal records and this can only be accessed through a government agency.
In the state of Washington, all county and city law enforcement agencies submit arrest records and data on the disposition of felony and misdemeanor matters to State Patrol that adds it to a central repository known as the Identification and Criminal History Section database.
From here, these records can be sought by non judicial government agencies as well as private applicants. Although the information is offered for a fee, you have the option of conducting a background check through mail as well as online, which is truly convenient.
The WSP database contains information on all arrest warrants issued in the state along with legal detention related information, charges filed in the matter, sentence and details on correctional facilities where the offender is being held and relevant incarceration related data.
Inquiries for the information are entertained in two formats, a name check and a finger print verification. While a name based search can be conducted online or through mail, the results that it brings back may not be conclusive as the search is only conducted on parameters like the name of the offender, gender and race. On the other hand, a finger print verification will undoubtedly get more accurate results, however, the applicant will need to submit the fingerprint cards in person and pay a higher fee for this type of search.
The local law enforcement agency
Another government source of information on arrest records and all criminal matters is of course the local sheriff’s department. While all state agencies are obligated to furnish public records on request, approaching the local law enforcement agency will not be a prudent decision if you have an outstanding warrant out in your name.
Although you can get criminal and court records from the State Patrol as well as the sheriff’s department, they will not provide federal records or information on arrests that took place in other states.
Using the services of a third party website will be the most suitable solution for people who are interested in countrywide arrest records.A private website will offer state and federal records and these can conveniently be accessed online. Of course, a nominal fee will be charged for conducting a background check, but the advantage here is that you can also seek personal arrest records from this source.
In fact, if you believe that an old indiscretion may have resulted in the issue of an arrest warrant, it would be best to look for information on a third party site before enlisting the help of attorney to deal with the mater.
Although an expensive proposition, hiring the services of a private investigator will bring back comprehensive information about the subject. This option is usually only feasible for employers; depending on the nature and scope of the position that they intend to fill, a lot more than just the criminal records of a person may be needed to make a hiring decision.
However, if you intend to use the data procured from any government agency for the purpose of offering or denying employment, you will need to notify the job applicant of the information that you received from the source along with the name of the agency, if he/she was denied the position on the basis of the background check.