Conducting a Connecticut criminal record check can be a bit complicated and confusing, so I have broken down some of the ways that it can be accomplished, from the most basic to the “leave no stone unturned” method.
If you are a reader of this blog, you know that we typically recommend conducting criminal record checks through multiple sources. (Additional reading: How to Conduct a Criminal Background Check Like an Expert and How to Look Up Criminal Records.)
For a variety of reasons, many of these sources are not complete. In some cases, they cover different things.
But most of all, I get paid to find information, so it’s critical that I do everything in my power to do that, regardless of how far back it goes.
Connecticut Judicial Website
The State of Connecticut Judicial Branch has a website where you can look up criminal and motor vehicle cases statewide. In addition, you can look up arrest warrants issued for failure to appear or for violation of probation as well as orders to incarcerate.
There are a couple of caveats, though. The criminal records go back only 10 years, so for anything beyond that, you will have to use one of the alternate methods outlined below. Also, by the state’s own admission, the outstanding warrant database is not complete; so if you don’t find an outstanding warrant, it doesn’t mean that one does not exist.
Department of Public Safety
The Connecticut State Police keep criminal records throughout the life of the individual and after he or she is deceased. Electronic records date to the early 1990s, when the database originated, and historical paper records date back much earlier. You need to fill in a form and send a $50 check to the Connecticut State Police.
Frankly, it’s a slow and tedious process, but the information is coming straight from the State Police, so it’s the most “official” source you can go through.
Most people think of criminal records — including those for drug possession, driving while intoxicated, or assault and battery — as state matters. However, there are a number of federal statutes that can result in someone facing criminal charges, especially with white-collar matters.
Most U.S. District Court criminal records, including Connecticut’s, are accessible through PACER, the online federal court docket system. According to information on PACER, they have records back to 1961, although I am not sure how comprehensive these are. Even so, in more recent cases you can download the documents right from the website.
On-Site Court Check
As I mentioned in a previous post (How To Look Up Criminal Records), one of the most important things that you need to do in a criminal check is determine which county the person is residing in so that you can search the local court. Why? These courts are the sources of the information, and going to the source is almost always the best way to get what you are looking for.
You can hire a court retriever in the local jurisdiction to search the records through BRB’s public retriever network.
As noted above, the criminal records on the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch website go back only 10 years.
So what if you want to find records beyond 10 years? You either go directly to the court, or you can utilize one of the many third-party databases that have been collecting criminal records for many years.
In fact, utilizing some of these third-party databases may be even more effective than going directly to the court. Why? Connecticut purges records often, so records may not exist at the court or in the courts databases. Some of these third-party databases have been collecting and saving the information for years.
The one we use is Court PC of Connecticut, which has been collecting Connecticut criminal conviction information since the early 1990s and has some criminal information going back to the early 1980s. According to owner John Lach, they have been collecting data from Connecticut through its open access law since 1992. As John explained in an email,Court PC has coverage for all criminal convictions as of 1991 and partial coverage for pre-1990 felonies based on if the case was purged and / or finalized when they started collecting data.
Leave No Stone Unturned
Local Police Department Inquiries
This is put into the category of “leave no stone unturned” because it’s a long and tedious process. There are 92 municipal police departments in Connecticut. If you really wanted to, you could contact each and every one of them. But a more effective use of your time would be to contact the individual towns where the person resided and ask how to make a request for any incidents or police reports relating to a particular individual or a particular address.
The difference between this request and other requests is that these incidents may or may not have turned into criminal cases. For example, police may have been called to a residence regarding a domestic dispute, but no criminal charges were filed. Or they charges may have been filed, but the person was not convicted (note that the sources identified above only provide conviction information).
So there you have it the way to conduct a Connecticut Criminal record check from the most basic to the “leave no stone unturned” method. Any questions? Leave us a note in the comments below.