The State’s Main Filing Cabinet
Each state needs some sort of storage system to maintain all their criminal records so that there’s one central location where everyone can find what they’re looking for. This storage system is called the central repository and is available to the public. The information in this system only lists crimes that were committed in that particular state and leaves out crimes committed elsewhere. In can take some time for all the proper documents and information to be filed in the central repository so some information, such as a disposition file, can be missing when you go to look it up. All this information gets in to the central repository through local courts and different law enforcement agencies. Aside from the public, the FBI also uses the central repository to locate information on a case. Some states connect all their courts and all share this kind of information amongst each other. This system, called a unified court system, is incredibly useful when it comes to finding information and can be found in states like Alabama, North Carolina and Colorado.
No Two State Systems Are The Same
Every state has different rules, regulations, customs and traditions that differentiate them from their neighboring states. Different courts located through a state are also different and unique from one another. Some courts distribute criminal records freely while others require that extensive paperwork be filled out in order to obtain the records. While 42% of the states allow the public to access criminal records without any information, some require various forms of identification and a signature in order to obtain the records.
Different states have different regulations regarding criminal records. Some allow the circulation of the conviction records while others dictate which state agencies can access the files but allow any private agencies access. Some states allow employment agencies to access criminal records while other states do not. Each state also has the right to require a specific rule be followed in order to obtain criminal records. This includes a lawful purpose for obtaining the record.