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  1. Home Criminal Records Search Felony and Misdemeanor Records Search Felony Finder Felony Finder Finding out about someone's criminal background is quite simple these days. You can even use a felony finder service for free, if you have got the time and internet connectivity.

    • Overview
    • Gathering Information
    • Searching Court Records
    • Using Other Web Resources

    A felon is someone who has been convicted of a “high crime” punishable by death or a year or more in state or federal prison.

    Such felonies include drug use, driving while intoxicated, theft, sexual assault, violent crimes, fraud, vandalism, weapons violations, and forgery. Employers can search for criminal records in an official capacity, but if you are not an employer and you do not want to use a paid service, you can still usually determine if someone is a felon. To do so, you will need to gather information about the individual, search state and local court records, and use other resources such as the National Sex Offender Public Website.

    Type in the name of the person whose criminal record you want to find and do a news search. Although a Google search is not going to lead you to the official record, it can find newspaper articles about felony convictions. Sometimes, a Google search is all you need to establish that someone is a felon.

    Try the search with the name in quotation marks – i.e. “John Doe” to narrow your search.

    If possible, include the person's full name to target the search. A first, middle and last name in quotation marks will help you to know you are finding information on the right person.

    Use more than 1 search engine. Different engines have different processes for bringing up results. You may have better luck on Yahoo, Bing or Wolfram Alpha.

    Try to determine all the places the individual has lived. Most court records are held at the state or local level, so it is best if you can find out all the places where the individual you are investigating lived.

    Try searching on Google to see if you can find previous residences. Do both a standard Google search and a Google news search.

    Go to your local library to use online court case research services. Taken together, Lexis or Westlaw, CourtLink or CourtExpress, Legal Dockets Online, or the U.S. Party/Case index on PACER cover almost all the federal, state, and local courts in the United States. Contact you local library to see which, if any, of these resources they provide access to. If your library does not offer access, try the nearest university library.

    Ask the librarian for help using these research databases if necessary.

    Enter as much information on your subject as possible. If he or she is a felon, a search will often return case information detailing his or her crime.

    Be aware that these databases do not include all criminal records. For instance, Lexis’s FINDER/CRIMNL database only has records from 37 states, rarely reaching beyond the year 2000. Westlaw’s CRIM-ALL database has records for 41 states, but not all jurisdictions in those states are represented.

    Search the National Sex Offender Public Website. This site gathers sex offender information from states, territories, and tribes into one database. Simply enter a name to search.

    Consult the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ inmate locator. A search by name will determine if the individual in question has been an inmate of a federal prison at any time since 1982. You will know the person is a felon, though the site will not report the nature of the person’s crime.

    Look up the person’s name with the Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanction List Search. The people on this list are not all felons, since some have not yet been captured and convicted. They are, however, blocked from entering or doing business in the United States because of suspected involvement in terrorism, drug trafficking, or providing weapons of mass destruction.

    This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD. Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013. This article has been viewed 177,211 times.

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