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Federal Criminal Records
What are FBI Criminal Records?

FBI criminal records are a way of keeping track of all the federal laws a person has violated. Some of these crimes include drug trafficking or kidnapping. The federal courts compile all of this information and it then goes in to the FBI criminal records. The whole federal judicial system is broken down in to smaller sections, such as districts and regional circuits.

U.S. District Courts and Their Record Keeping

Like county and state courts, district courts also use case numbering systems to keep track of all their files. This allows the process of searching for files to be much faster as you know which number you’re looking for. Obtaining the proper number does require some research, but only specific government agencies have access to the numbers directory. It’s very important that the inter-district communication is up-to-date because each district records the files under their own number. As a result, when they need to get a hold of a neighboring district, their numbers don’t coincide. This can get very confusing, but usually they keep in touch and are able to figure out the situation.

A New Solution to an Existing Problem

For many years, criminal cases were assigned to various district courts by the county. Now there is a computer system that evenly distributes the cases amongst different judges. This new system allows the judges and the courts to work more efficiently and will help to prevent future mistakes. However, this may cause some problems for those researching because it can be difficult to find out where the records are actually being held. To accommodate, a new system has just been implemented that allows specific government agencies remote access to criminal records.

The Courts Version of a Computerized Spreadsheet

There’s a new computer program that gives users remove access to court files in order to locate criminal records called PACER (Public Access to Electronic Court Records). PACER allows users to find information about both the plaintiffs and the defendants. The program is very easy to use and if you’re looking up someone’s criminal history, it will show each and every case in which the person has been involved. This program is also available to bankruptcy courts and provides users with different information about different cases. The program is available online or over the phone and involves a fee. The online fee is seven cents per page and the phone service is sixty cents a minute. There are some courts that will provide this information for free, but that only includes about five districts in the entire country.

Internet Access Regulations

The administrative office of the United States courts assists the federal courts in three ways - administrative support, development of policy and management. Each provides crucial assistance to the courts to ensure that everything is being done correctly and efficiently. In 2001, the administrative office forbid the posting of criminal record documents online and now only allows people to gain access to them through mail or in person. However, docket sheets don’t have any of these access restrictions.

Criminal Record Trends Throughout The Years

From the Regan administration through the Bush administration, the number of federal prisoners has drastically increased throughout the years. Each year there are more incarcerations due to the increasing number of laws being put in to affect. During his administration, Clinton enforced strong laws that dealt with drugs and drug trafficking. As a result, drug crimes account for about 60% of all prisoners in jail.

National Crime Information Center

The NCIC (National Crime Information center) is the system the FBI uses to store all of its records. They include all the necessary data to give them information, no matter what case they are working on. There are millions of files in the NCIC and it takes a lot of work to maintain them. One issue with this information center is that some of the files get lost or never arrive at the database because they come from different places and need to be coordinated somehow to make sure the final product arrives at the FBI. Primarily, all the information in this database is arrest-related and has nothing to do with the dispositions. For dispositions, a visit to the proper jurisdiction is required. The FBI is the only agency that can get in to the NCIC. There are, however, branches of the FBI in every state that can be contacted with questions regarding the NCIC. There are also some federal agencies that are allowed to access the NCIC, but they are only the ones that are assisting the FBI with their cases.

Interstate Identification System (III)

The Triple I system is used by the FBI to track interstate exchanges of criminal information so that they can track a criminal and their crimes through the different states. This allows the FBI to access a lot of information when they’re investigating a specific person. The entire process takes only a few seconds to complete and is very convenient as the service is fast. The use of the Triple I system is only intended for criminal justice purposes and not for employers. There have been problems in the past when employers bribe law enforcement officials to gain access to the database. This is very illegal but does happen often, which is a major flaw in the system.

The National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact

Put in to effect by former president Bill Clinton, this compact states that all unclassified criminal history should be available to the authorized people in the court systems. Before the compact, the FBI would have fingerprints sent to them from all around the country and would need to keep them on file so that when duplicate finger prints were sent in, they could track that individual and his or her criminal pact. After the compact came in to affect, the FBI was able to use the Triple I system, which makes life much easier for them. The only difference is that now the FBI doesn’t have files regarding the disposition and charges.

Fingerprinting of the Past, Present and Future

The FBI currently uses the Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS). This technology is very helpful in this day and age, particularly with the war on terror and the frequent necessity of homeland security and airport security. This process doesn’t take a lot of time and produces accurate, fast results that can and have prevented terrorist attacks. The system works by digitally transmitting fingerprints to a database and other federal protection agencies. There, they scan the fingerprints with an optical approach. This version of taking a fingerprint involves putting the finger on a piece of glass and taking a picture of it. Another way to get a fingerprint is to use ultrasound technology, which works by sending ultrasonic waves to the glass to produce a computer generated image of the fingerprint. There is also a chip-based fingerprinting system that uses a silicon chip to make the print.


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