Criminal Records Guide to Best Results

Name Fields

Leave the "Exact" box checked to do an exact name search. Uncheck the box to do a partial name search. A partial name helps you find name variations or misspellings. The more truncated the input name, the higher the number of results, so use caution.


Name Input
Names in Results
Exact Name Search: Richard Richard
Partial Name Search: Ric Ric, Rick, Ricky, Richie, Ricardo, Richard, etc.

In the example above, if the "exact name" option is checked, a search for the name "Richard" will match the first name exactly and give you results for "Richard" only. If you un-check the exact-match boxes, you may enter a partial name like "Ric." The partial name search places an invisible wildcard at the end of the input name. Be careful about using too few letters, as you are limited to 500 results.


Date of Birth (DOB)

Input an exact Date of Birth OR search by year of birth.

1. Search by Exact Date of Birth

A search with an exact DOB helps narrow the results. This is useful when searching a very common name, especially since our results are limited to 500 records. Keep in mind that some public agencies don't offer a day and/or month in the DOB field. If you choose the "Exact Date of Birth" option and the source doesn't have numbers in the "day" and/or "month" fields, then records from those agencies won't appear in your results. The solution is the "Year of Birth" option.

2. Search by Year of Birth

This search allows you to input a YEAR of birth only, and you may widen the search to include all records that match your input name and ANY year of birth within (0, 1, 2 or 3) years of your input year. This casts a huge net, so be careful not to assume that all results are a match for your subject. This search option is also helpful if you don't know the exact birth date. And since the courts are not perfect, you may also find results where the DOB was input incorrectly. You choose how wide to set the filters: 0, 1, 2 or 3 years on either side of your target year.

Option: Include results where DOB is missing or unavailable

Some criminal records do not list a Date of Birth. This option will provide you with results where the input name matches, but there is no date of birth in the record. This will provide many more results, but keep in mind that since there isn't a date of birth, the records you find may not belong to your subject. But it is an excellent way to find records that may be otherwise hidden.

Example: Search for "JOE PUBLIC"

Birth Info Input
Results Would Include
Exact DOB: 01-01-1950 Joe Public/01-01-1950
Year of Birth: 1950 Joe Public/01-01-1950, Joe Public/01-1950, Joe Public/08-15-1950, etc.
Missing DOB: 01-01-1950 Joe Public/01-01-1950, Joe Public/xx-xx-xxxx

Important note: This option is especially valuable for terrorist and debarred persons results as those records seldom report a date of birth.


Middle Initial Option

If you input a middle initial in this field, your search results will include records where:

  • There is a match on the single letter that you input.
  • The middle name starts with the letter you entered.
  • The middle name is empty in our database.

Example: Search for "JOE PUBLIC"

Middle Initial Input
Names in Results
none Joe Public, Joe Ralph Public, Joe S. Public, Joe Q. Public, Joe Quincy Public
Q Joe Public, Joe Q. Public, Joe Quincy Public


The Best Way to Search

There is no "right way" to set these advanced search features. We recommend that you adjust your search on a case-by-case basis. Take into consideration the commonality of the name, the population of the area you are searching, the "500 record" result limit, and your own available time.

If the name isn't particularly common and you know the exact birth date, try searching with the exact name, exact birth date, and "include results where DOB is missing or unavailable" option.

As to common names, our rule of thumb is that if we've never heard of or read about the name before, then it's probably uncommon. Think about how many people you've met with that name. Check the phone directory or do a Google search and put the name in quotes-if you get many pages of results, then there's a good chance that it's a common name.


Too Many Results?

If you get too many results in your search, you receive the first 500 and you are charged for the search. We aren't able to show you results beyond the first 500. Here are some suggestions you may use to limit your results:

  • Run a single state search, rather than a Nationwide Search.
  • Use an exact-name search. Make sure the exact-name boxes are checked.
  • Use full date of birth.
  • Disable the option to "Include results where DOB is missing or unavailable."
  • Input the correct middle initial.

Please don't forget that we have thousands of additional free criminal record, inmate, arrest, booking, and sex offender databases. You'll find those here: Search Systems Criminal Record Directory, along with information on how to order "Official" and "Certified" state criminal histories from state agencies.

Good luck on your searches. If you have problems or questions, use the "Contact Us" function or call us at (800) 350-2232 in the U.S. or +1-805-375-4041. We're here from 8 AM to 5 PM PST, Monday through Friday.

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