Verified Volunteers Tackles Your Top 7 Volunteer Criminal Record Check Questions
Posted Thursday, October 15th, 2015 by Verified Volunteers Staff
Criminal record checks are the most popular method for screening volunteers. However, along with that popularity comes misinformation and varying opinions on best practices. This leaves volunteer managers with questions about how to truly get the most thorough, accurate, fast, and compliant criminal record checks.
Here are answers to 7 commonly asked questions about criminal record checks:
Which states make it the most difficult to perform background checks in terms of turnaround time and regulatory restrictions?
Answer: Criminal record checks are conducted differently within each state. Recognize that some searches are cleared in a matter of hours while others can take several weeks. Many employers struggle with criminal record checks in California due to the heavy regulatory restrictions and lengthy turnaround times. For instance, California has 58 courts and most provide employers with the ability to “clear” a candidate online. However, once it is determined that a record may potentially exist, all counties require the use of a court researcher to retrieve the entire record. California certainly isn’t alone, as New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Nevada are also known for their complexity.
Which counties require a court researcher?
Answer: There are a number of counties that still require a court researcher in order to either clear the search or collect the appropriate court information. A courts automation processes often change, making it difficult to track exactly which ones do or don’t in real time. This year alone, many courts previously requiring a court researcher have successfully automated and therefore no longer require manual court research. Once a court automates, Verified Volunteers will perform quality validation to ensure that their automation is as complete as pulling a court record manually. We’ll continue to improve and enhance this service as more county courts automate their records, reducing the need for court researchers.
Please explain the difference between a County and a State Search. Which is more affordable?
Answer: The county courthouse is the starting point for all convictions or arrests. Once records are entered at the county level, they are entered into state repositories according to each states’ own process, timeline and policy. While this trajectory varies on some occasions, it is the most common lifecycle of criminal data. Not all states offer a statewide search, and alternatives such as State Police and/or specialized databases may be utilized.
In terms of affordability, the cost for County and State Searches is often dependent on the court fees and processing fees. In some cases, State Searches will be more expensive than County Searches. In other cases, the opposite may be true. At Verified Volunteers, we use state searches where the state’s data is equal to what we’d find at the county and where the cost is the same or less expensive than a county search.
Why can two separate criminal record checks conducted on the same candidate within a relatively short period of time yield different results?
Answer: A criminal record check captures the results at one specific moment in time. Across the country, new records are entered every day rendering previously completed background checks outdated. The results of a criminal record check can change based on the record changes that occur at the courthouse, progress within a legal case, or changes in law that dictate what can or cannot be reported. Monthly updates, included as part of a Verified Volunteers check, help identify potential updated criminal activity among your current volunteers in closer to real time.
Why are Verified Volunteers’ turnaround times for criminal record checks faster? What is court automation?
Answer: Today, most third party screening providers use some level of court automation to speed up the process for conducting criminal record checks and improve efficiency. Court Automation is the ability to pull records from courthouses electronically. However, with continued investments in technology and processes, our coverage spans more of the country than other vendors, resulting in both higher quality results and faster turnaround times.
What steps are taken to ensure that criminal records are not missed?
Answer: Our complete search helps identify more criminal records and fills in gaps left by traditional checks. Here’s how it works:
- First, we scour thousands of data sources and over 34 billion records across the U.S. This indicates if a crime has been committed in a jurisdiction where the volunteer has lived.
- Next, we run a nationwide search based on the volunteer’s name and date of birth. This reveals crimes committed outside of their neighborhood in areas where they may have worked or traveled.
- Using proprietary technology, we then search more than 2,000 booking and incarceration sites to cast an even wider net.
- Lastly, for accuracy and compliance purposes, we validate all information revealed during the search using primary source data at the county court level with instant access to over 75% of all U.S. criminal records.
Upon completion, a designated Quality Assurance Team carefully reviews a statistically significant sample size of completed background reports across key services. This process helps ensure that all screening actions meet the strict quality guidelines that we’ve established such as adherence to client specifications, inclusion of supporting privacy compliance documentation, clarity and completeness.
How accurate are results?
Answer: Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect background check. And, in some cases, the source itself contains the inaccuracy. For example, if the state repository has recorded an error, there is no way for the third-party screening provider to identify or rectify the mistake so the information is then passed along to the organization. Third-party screening providers are only able to report the data as provided to them; they cannot alter county or state records.
Among screening providers, Verified Volunteers’ accuracy is one of the highest due to our proprietary technology, which provides direct access to more than 2,300 U.S. jurisdictions.
We hope that you’ve found these top 7 Volunteer Criminal Record Check Questions & Answers helpful.