Public criminal records can be viewed for free using the search tool at the DirtSearch website. By entering a person's first and second names along with their state, users can obtain data gathered from criminal, civil and probate records, sex offender registers, property owner databases, social networks and other public domain sources.
The entirety of a person's criminal background is not always available to the general public, however, whether for free or at cost. The only criminal record that is always in the public domain is that of sex crimes, listed on each state's sex offender registry. This information is accessible through individual state sex offender websites, which can be located through the U.S. Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Public Website. One thing to keep in mind when searching records of this nature is that laws pertaining to sexual offences vary from state to state.
Other ways to gain access to criminal records include contacting authorities at the local, state or federal level. At the local level, inquiries should be directed to the relevant county sheriff's department or clerk's office, while at the state level, the Department of Public Safety, State Police Departments or State Bureaus of Investigation can handle requests. The Federal Bureau of Investigation can be contacted for federal criminal records.