The answer is Yes.

Though it may seem like a breach of privacy, the Freedom of Information Act (1967) permits public access to any records that are recorded at a public event. This includes court proceedings, where criminal records are made. There are a few exceptions, but if a criminal record is public, then it’s legal to access.

Since it’s legal to access criminal records, you may be curious as to how you can do that. As such, we’ll list the various ways you can accomplish this below.

Directly request the records from the responsible institutions

If you write directly to your local sheriff’s office or district court, you can request access to a person’s criminal records. You’ll need to provide them with the identity of the person you’re investigating, as well as a sufficient reason for your inquiry. Even if they permit you to access their criminal record, you’ll need to fill out a lengthy online form, and email it to the department. You’ll also need to pay a service fee for the records.

In general, this can be a lengthy process and may take days or weeks for the department to finally mail you the requested records, with a shipping fee attached.

Perform an online public records search

Third-party databases, like SpyFly, allow you to perform a confidential public record search online.  SpyFly prides itself on maintaining accurate records and scrupulously ensures that they’re identical to public records published by the government itself. Another advantage is that they’re far cheaper and quicker than the government, meaning you can get access to a criminal record faster, and for less money, while still obtaining the same document.

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Another important aspect of SpyFly is anonymity. While a government official is not required to preserve your privacy when performing a  criminal records search, SpyFly does not notify the person you’re investigating of the search. This means that you won’t have to worry about any form of embarrassment from the search, giving you confidence in your privacy.

Check for criminal records published online

Occasionally, law enforcement and police departments may see fit to publish someone’s criminal records online. You’ll need to visit their website and search for the person in question. However, they’re not required to publish every criminal record they hold, and may not have their website organized. This means that you may have to scroll through pages and pages of criminal records. Importantly, since they won’t always publish a criminal record, that means that an absence of one on their website doesn’t necessarily prove that there is no criminal record. It simply means that the police haven’t published it.

***SpyFly provides consumers affordable, immediate access to public record information. Federal laws prohibit businesses from using SpyFly’s service to make decisions about employment, insurance, consumer credit, tenant screening, or for any other purpose subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC 1681 et seq.***