County Criminal Records
When it comes to searching for pertinent criminal records histories on potential offenders, it is absolutely crucial that many different jurisdictions be cross-referenced for these records. The way the U.S. justice system goes as regards crimes and their respective jurisdictions, is that certain classes of crimes are processed at different jurisdictional courts: misdemeanors and minor offenses are processed at the local courts, felonies and certain classes of misdemeanors at the county and state court levels, and federal crimes at the U.S. district courts. In this discussion, we will examine the county criminal records in regards to the types of county crimes, county criminals, and criminal records processed there; to best understand how a physical criminal records search requires records research done at the county level.
County courts relate to state courts in that they share many of the same types of county court cases and criminal records, which translates to a strong similarity between state and county criminal records. You might say that county and state jurisdictions share the load of felony criminal cases and records occurring in that particular state. While some misdemeanors are taken care of in county and state courts, the majority of these are usually handled at the local municipal level.
To further elucidate how county criminals and courts fit in with state criminal and civil justice as a whole and as regards county offender records, it is best to first get a working idea of how the county/state court system is broken down. There are four main branches of courts within each state: appellate courts, intermediate appellate courts, general jurisdiction trial courts, and limited jurisdiction trial courts. The appellate courts deal exclusively with appeals from other courts on sentences rendered that are now up for dispute. The general jurisdiction trial courts focus on the processing of felonies and significant sized civil cases. Lastly, the limited jurisdiction trial courts handle a specific type of court cases, which varies from state to state-and by right, county by county. A good example of a limited jurisdiction trial court may be a state or county court that processes only cases regarding divorce and separation. While some state and county legislation choose to house limited and general jurisdiction cases in one court, others divide them as noted above; however, no two states (or county jurisdictions) are alike in how they classify, process, and punish the varying offenses of criminal and civil law. Consequently, not all state and county courts will have the same records resources for state or county criminal records located in the same general criminal records location.
County criminal records offer a key piece to a person’s entire offender history that should not be overlooked. This said, neither should any of the other jurisdictions apart from county, and
here is why. First off, state and county courts share criminal record information on felonies and misdemeanor, so who’s to say that one isn’t filed at the state central information repository? Ideally, all offender information is supposed to be sent on to the state central repository, but due to mis-identification, mis-classification, clerical issues, and processing delays; many records may not make it there in a timely fashion or at all. Though it would be great to begin and finish a records search at the state level, more than likely, the state in which the history is being researched will not have the comprehensive and accurate collection of criminal records that you are seeking. Secondly, is the origination of classification. Not all criminal records will be charged as one class of crime and be rendered as the same in their respective records, i.e. a felony can-and is, quite commonly-plead down to a misdemeanor; so that the new location for the criminal records you want could quite possibly be in a municipal court, not a state or county court. Thirdly, every offender case is its own; meaning that no one can predict based upon classification and offender history, how a jurisdiction will approach a crime and the judge responsible, render his/her decision. While the law may seem as simple as black and white-what’s law is law-there are an almost infinite amount of variables that can coincide, conflict, and alter the processing and sentencing of a particular crime and court case to affect county classification. This irregularity, in turn, directly affects how criminal recordsfrom all jurisdictions-not just county criminal records–affect an offender history search.