If you’re wondering, how do I get a free copy of my criminal record, you will have a few options available to check out that won’t cost you a penny.  While it will involve a little legwork on your end, the only way to get it without paying is by taking a few steps.  Most sites that can get your background check will charge you a fee, but you don’t have to go that route.  Listed below are the ways you can get the criminal history report free of charge, DIY fashion.

Public Records

Most states post criminal court records online and provide free access online to their judicial websites.  This will give you a good way to perform your own background investigation of sorts, so you can know exactly what is showing.  Be sure to check all the places you have lived.  You will also need to bear in mind that most judicial and court sites will only have information listed from the time they went online, and not from time prior.  This is still probably the best route to take and you won’t even have to leave the comfort of home to do it.

Employment Background Checks

If you recently had a background check done for employment, you might be able to request a copy of the report for your own records.  This will give you a makeshift free criminal history record that you can use and inspect to make sure everything is accurate.  For all jobseekers, this can be an important step, especially if you don’t know exactly what is going to show up.  You can probably explain misdemeanor and traffic violations, but felonies might be harder.

Call Law Enforcement

This is worth a try.  You can call over to the local police department or sheriff office to see if they will provide you with a copy of your criminal history.  Some might be willing to do this without charge, but some agencies might charge a small fee.  Make a phone call and ask to speak to someone in the records division for assistance.  The worst they can do is say no to you, so you really don’t have a thing to lose other than a little time.

Use Caution Online – Scams

You might find a few sites that will claim to offer you the information at no charge.  Use caution.  Few will be able and willing to give you a copy of your criminal history without a fee being involved.  You should also be careful of giving any site your personal information.  Just use good common sense and you should be okay. 

Reasons to Check

There are a number of different reasons someone might want to get this information, even if they aren’t a person that has a criminal history.  Listed below are just a few of the reasons this might be beneficial to you.

Identity Theft:  It is entirely possible someone gave the police a false name when arrested or given a ticket of some sort.  If a traffic citation, for example, is given in your name and you fail to pay the fine or show up to dispute it in court, a warrant for your arrest might be issued.  Better safe than sorry.

Loss of Employment:  Since background checks are done pre-employment, it might be a good idea to make sure there are no surprises on report.  It could also potentially cost you your current employment, so take a look and make sure there’s nothing in your history that would cause problems.

False Arrest:  If someone has used your name, you could have a warrant out without even realizing it.  Know your history, so this does not happen to you.

Tax Refund Intercepts:  Unpaid fines can be collected through tax intercepts.  If you have unpaid fines with further action taken, they should show up on your history.   Don’t let this happen to you if you are expecting a hefty refund.

None of these options are perfect, but any one of them could work out for you.  Now you know how you can potentially get a free copy of your criminal record.