What you don’t know can and will hurt you.
It’s an assumption that bolsters the idea behind doing background checks. Background investigations are crucial for employers, businesses vetting suppliers and credit companies in Virginia. Organizations perform them for data verification, ensure maximum productivity and avoid legal liability and harm.
But how do you check if someone has a criminal record in Virginia?
Arrest.Org in VA
How do you find recent arrests in Virginia? One of the more accessible platforms is arrest.org, which is a private organization collecting and posting information online. It sources its data from state authorities, like the County Sheriff’s and the Clerk of Courts.
Are police records public records in Virginia?
Arrest.org is able to retrieve and post data because arrest records are, in general, a matter of public record.
All records the State keeps are public records. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFIA) makes it legal for the public to access criminal records, except for restricted files. Restricted files may be arrest records that were expunged or sealed by the courts. An arrest record may also be restricted when the subject is a juvenile.
When you go on arrest.org Virginia, the information you can access may include:
- Full name
The data will also include the subject’s county and sex. Mugshots will also accompany the personal information of each subject. Although some subjects may not feature a mugshot.
How do you find mugshots on arrest.org?
You can type the full name of the subject along with the zip code or run a general search using identifiers, like sex, age and charge.
On the page, the number of Virginia arrests will be posted. The page will also disclose the number of most recent arrests in the State per day. So arrest.org is a good source when you must have information on the most recent arrests made in the State, for whatever purpose.
Cyber Background Check on Other Platforms
Employers, businesses and credit companies are not the only ones who have a need for background checks. People who need further information on someone to file a restraining order may turn to cyber background checking.
An online investigation may reveal police reports that may be useful as evidence in claiming a history of violence or abuse. But arrest.org isn’t the only source of data for public arrest records in Virginia.
You may also turn to the Virginia State Police, which provides statewide criminal history checks. But you must complete an SP-167 form to request information. Different forms apply to agencies requesting and to people requesting names of sex offenders and those who have abused minors. The request is not for free, so you must prepare a money order or certified check. The request typically takes 15 days to process.
If you can’t wait that long and have a name to check, use Google search. To check for arrest photos:
- Run the name with the state or city using quotation marks (“”) to get results specific to your search terms
- Click Images to see if any arrest photos come up
- Click News if you don’t recognize any results from the images search
A background check on Google isn’t going to be comprehensive. It’s likely going to be time-consuming when the person you’re looking up has a common name.
Another option would be to pay third-party services online. You pay a certain fee to gain access to information; some sites do offer a free trial to help you determine if it’s the right service. But not all sites provide accurate information, so it’s not always a reliable source.
If the information you need is specific to sex offenders, go to the sex offender registry of Virginia. If you’re looking for an inmate, contact the correctional facility or the regional office. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows you to request for relevant details about an inmate or an offender in state prisons.
Information is Power
A background investigation is necessary when you’re hiring people, vetting suppliers or business partners and scrutinizing the suitability of a credit application. Prevailing laws, from the FOIA to the VFIA, give you the right to access someone’s criminal history (if there is one).
And you will have multiple platforms to get your information. Arrest.org, which is not limited to Virginia, gives you details on a person’s arrest records. Google provides you with a limited way to discover someone’s criminal background. And third-party services give you the data you need for a fee.
Whichever source you turn to, make sure you’re getting accurate information; that the person’s arrest records or criminal past is the person you are investigating. Because information drives your decision, it’s vital to ensure you’re getting it right.