Criminal History Research
Criminal History - is a listing of arrests, charges, and dispositions of cases for a specific person.
- There is not a complete nationwide criminal history check.
- State criminal histories generally only report offenses for which the defendant was fingerprinted at the time of arrest.
- Many criminal charges may not show up on criminal history reports.
- The Washington State Patrol maintains the most comprehensive criminal history in Washington State. This is a listing of arrests by any law enforcement agency in the state when the person is fingerprinted and the fingerprint card is sent to the State Patrol. This should include most felony arrests and some arrests for misdemeanor offenses.
- Cases where the defendant was issued a citation and released after the arrest may not appear. It also will not include arrests outside of Washington State.
Suggested Steps for Criminal History Checks
- Basic background investigation is the most effective tool for landlords.
- The simplest, quickest, and cheapest steps should be taken first.
- Research may be needed if arrests are revealed by your background checks.
How do I start?
Step one: Ask the applicant
This is free, simple, and very effective. Most people will truthfully answer questions on an application. How you phrase the question is important. We would suggest something like this:
Have you ever received a ticket, been charged with an offense, or been arrested for anything other than a minor traffic violation? Please list and explain.
Step two: Call references
There is no substitute for talking personally with a previous landlord, and checking other key information provided to you by the applicant. Do these fundamentals early in the process, and if you get poor references or find fictitious information in the application, you can curtail further efforts and the time and cost of a criminal history check.
Step three: Use the Internet for free information.
A simple Internet search of the applicants name and keywords such as the town or city where they last resided would be a good starting point. Washington State has online records available on the Internet. Many of these sites are available for free.
US Department of Justice National Sex Registry http://www.nsopr.gov/
WASPC Sex Offender registry http://ml.waspc.org/
Federal Bureau of Prisons, Inmate locator http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/LocateInmate.jsp
Step four: Pay for a criminal history
For a $10 charge you can run a Washington State criminal history.
Washington State Patrol criminal history http://www.wsp.wa.gov/crime/crimhist.htm
Step five: Follow up on information
Sometimes you may need to follow up on information that you find to make an informed decision. Get any follow up information from the appropriate sources for any arrests that concern you. Be sure to ask the applicant first. If the applicant appears untruthful about the circumstances, they would certainly be a risk.
It is a goal of the Port Orchard Police Department to work with owners and landlords of properties in the city to impact crime in and on rental properties.
We would encourage landlords to utilize the Lease Addendum below to help facilitate the removal of tenants that are involved in unlawful activities.