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Instant Checkmate Background Check Glossary



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When you're using Instant Checkmate to run background checks on individuals, you may come across some specific terms in your reports that you might not be familiar with. To help you better understand exactly what you're seeing in your reports, we've compiled a list of the most frequently used and related terms in the personal criminal background check industry.

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Instant Checkmate Background Check Glossary

  2. 2. Glossary
  3. 3. Arrest Records An arrest record is a piece of recorded documentation that reveals an individual's suspected criminal activity. An arrest record may reveal information indicating that a person has been questioned, apprehended, taken into custody or detention, held for investigation, arrested, charged with, indicted, or tried for any offense. Arrest records will show if the suspected act was • Traffic related • Violent • Theft or robbery • Drug and/or alcohol related • Business related
  4. 4. Arrest Records What Information Can Be Found On An Arrest Record? • Biographical Information • Suspect’s current age, and age at the time of the arrest • Criminal Classification • Whether or not the suspected crime was a misdemeanor or a felony • Monetary Restitution • Fines associated with the arrest • Pending Litigation • Additional criminal convictions, pending hearings, and supplementary arrests
  5. 5. Arrest Records In The United States, Individuals Granted Power Of Arrest Include: • Federal Police • This includes all officers who work for the Department of Justice. The FBI, DEA, and ATF are just a few branches under the umbrella of the DOJ. However, due to restrictions in the U.S. Constitution, federal officers may not exercise general policing powers. Their jurisdiction is restricted to foreign and interstate affairs. • State Police • Most state governments have their own enforcement divisions with a separate investigation unit operating out of the Attorney General's office. • County Police • The role and extent of power a county police department has varies a great deal from county to county. Arrest records are usually accessible through the state or federal court system (depending on whether the individual is accused of a federal or state crime), More specifically, an arrest record indicates when the individual was arrested, and the crime he or she was accused of. Although an arrest is not an indication of guilt, arrest records can still be used to learn about the type of accused offen.
  6. 6. Felonies In the US legal system, a felony is a categorization of a crime. In criminal terms, felonies are considered the most serious type of offense. In the US, felonies are considered crimes that generally carry a sentence of an imprisonment term longer than one year. What Are Some Examples Of Felonies? Felonies can broadly be classified into two distinct categories: violent felonies, or nonviolent felonies. Violent felonies consist of offenses involving physical or psychological trauma to an individual, whereas nonviolent felonies can be limited to property, fraud, or drug related crimes.
  7. 7. Felonies Violent Felonies • Murder • Manslaughter • Rape • Robbery • Sexual Assault • Bettery • Domestic Violence • Kidnapping • False Imprisonment Nonviolent Felonies • Treason • Espionage • Grand Theft • Racketeering • Fraud
  8. 8. Felonies There are also multiple degrees of felonies, which vary from state to state. Such classification may be dependent upon seriousness of the crime and potential punishment upon conviction. Punishment can range in severity from a mere fine or rehab, to life imprisonment or death depending on the sentencing laws of the state. Felonies can either be violent, or nonviolent. Prison sentences for felonies under state law will be served in either state or federal prison depending on whether or not the individual violated a state or federal law. Shorter terms can be served in county jail. However, a felony sentence can sometimes be shorter than one year depending on the discretion of the presiding judge and statutes of limitation.
  9. 9. Lawsuits A lawsuit is a claim or dispute brought to a court of law to receive a formal judgment on the disputed matter. Lawsuits are civil court actions where a plaintiff (the person who filed the complaint) claims to have incurred losses or experienced pain and suffering as a result of the actions of a defendant (the person who the complaint was filed against) and demands a fair remedy.
  10. 10. Lawsuits Typical Types of Lawsuits Tort (usually negligence actions) • A “tort” is a civil wrong Example: You were crossing the street and were hit by a driver. You incurred pain and suffering and missed work. The insurance company only offers to cover your hospital bills. You can file a tort action against the driver to get compensation for your out-of-pocket costs, as well as pain and suffering
  11. 11. Lawsuits Contract Actions • A civil action claiming breach of contract Example: You paid a contractor to remodel your kitchen. The contractor only did half the job, and you had to hire someone else to finish it. You can sue the contractor to recover what it cost you to have someone else finish the job. Family Law Actions • Lawsuits handled through family court Example: Your ex husband won’t pay child support. You can sue him in family court to obtain an income deduction order, so the court will direct his employer to automatically deduct the amount of child support he owes from his income
  12. 12. Lawsuits A lawsuit can be a dispute between two citizens, business entities, or the state and an individual. Lawyers usually handle the court proceedings, but defendants and plaintiffs can chose to represent themselves and fight their own cases if they wish. Advocating on one's own behalf before a court is called pro se legal representation. State and federal laws govern civil procedures, and the resulting judgments are legally binding. Failure to adhere to the results of a lawsuit can result in monetary penalties or criminal liability.
  13. 13. Misdemeanors A misdemeanor is defined as a crime of lesser seriousness. Many states in the US consider a misdemeanor as any crime that carries a punishment of incarceration of one year or less. There are multiple classes of misdemeanors in the US, as well as unclassified misdemeanors. Each type carries punishments that vary in severity. While misdemeanors rarely result in a loss of civil rights or incarceration, they do often result in collateral consequences such as wage garnishments if someone fails to pay a fine, or loss of licenses or temporary withdrawal of certain privileges. Misdemeanors are distinguished from felonies, which can be punished by a state or federal prison term and they carry less severe punishments than felonies do.
  14. 14. Speeding Tickets A speeding ticket is a type of traffic ticket issued by a law enforcement officer to an individual who has violated the posted speed limit. A speeding ticket usually serves as a notice for a fine, and usually results in a deduction of points off someone's driving record. In extreme cases such as criminal speeding, (generally when a motorist is traveling at 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit), speeding tickets may be accompanied with a criminal charge in the form of a class 2 misdemeanor, such as reckless endangerment and carry increased fines plus a massive point deduction against the driver. Violations may also be classified as more serious if a motorist is a repeat offender, has shown willful disregard to public safety, or causes death or serious bodily injury or property damage. These offenses will appear on the individual's arrest record.
  15. 15. Sexual Offenses A sex offense is a class of sexual conduct, which is prohibited by law and usually includes unwanted sexual acts forced on another individual. Sexual offenses vary in type and severity, and cover a wide array of inappropriate behaviors and infractions. Being convicted of a sexual offense will appear both on an individual's arrest record, as well as his or her permanent criminal record. Persons convicted of a sexual offense are required to register with their state's sex offender database in an ongoing effort to expose the identities of convicted sex offenders living within a community. Lawmakers and community members believe that disclosing the identity and location of convicted sex offenders is crucial to ensuring public safety. Registered sex offenders must periodically check in with local law enforcement and make sure that their state’s registry has their current address, place of employment, and contact information. Failure to comply may result in a parole violation, and the offender could receive additional jail time.
  16. 16. Arson Arson is almost always classified as a felony because it could cause severe injuries or death. For this reason, those convicted of the crime will face serious penalties. However, some cases of arson are not as serious of others. Those who burn down an abandoned structure out in the middle of the country will likely not face penalties as severe as those who intentionally burn down an occupied home, killing those inside. In these instances, those convicted could face the death penalty, depending on the jurisdiction. People may not always commit arson because they have malicious intentions. Another common reason to commit arson is to collect insurance money. Many people see this as a quick way to collect on an insurance policy.
  17. 17. Burglary While burglary is often associated with theft or larceny, this is only a small part of the definition. Some instances of burglary do not involve stealing property at all. Instead, burglary occurs when someone unlawfully enters a structure and commits a crime. The person does not have to forcefully enter the property. He could enter through an unlocked door. Additionally, he does not have to enter the property with intentions of stealing anything. When someone has intentions of committing any type of crime while there, he is committing burglary.
  18. 18. Burglary There are various degrees of burglary and each one has a different penalty. When a person enters someone's private residence with the intent to commit a crime, then he has committed first-degree burglary. When someone enters any other type of structure with the intent to commit a crime, then this is considered second-degree burglary. These other structures could include a business or a storage facility. In many instances, burglars wait until the owners of the property are no longer on the premises before entering to commit the crime. However, this is not always the case. When burglars enter a property where other people are, they may use violence to escape or as part of their crime. In these instances, they may be charged with burglary with battery.
  19. 19. Embezzlement When it comes to stealing money or property, there are many different crimes that can be committed by the thief. There is more than one way to steal money and the circumstances are different in each case. Embezzlement is one such crime that involves someone stealing money or property, often from an employer. The person doing the stealing has often been entrusted by the owner of the property to take care of it. That is why this crime is most common in an employment setting. The thief is an employee who has access to business accounts.
  20. 20. Embezzlement The embezzlement laws are written in such a way that there are three components necessary for proving embezzlement occurred rather than larceny or another similar crime. The first component is that the person was trusted with the property by its rightful owner. The second component is that the person took, concealed, or converted the property for his own use without the rightful owner's permission. The last component is that he had every intention of keeping or using the property for himself. If any of these components are missing, then a case for embezzlement cannot be made.
  21. 21. Fraud Fraud covers a wide range of behaviors that typically involve deception. A person who commits fraud often gains the trust of a target and then uses that trust to take the target’s money or receive some other personal gain. Fraud often goes undetected and victims may not even know that they have fallen victim to the crime. Because trust is something not easily given by many people, learning that they are a victim of fraud can be devastating.
  22. 22. Fraud It is possible for people to protect themselves from fraud. People who commit this crime often use several of the same tactics because they are effective. As such, once people have learned the red flags, fraud prevention is easy. One of the most important things to look out for is someone looking for personal information. Many financial institutions use information such as Social Security numbers and previous addresses for security purposes. If someone misrepresents themselves and obtains this information, they can use it to gain access to the victim’s financial accounts. Other things to look out for are unsolicited mail and phone calls asking for donations. It is important that people do their research and are fully confident with who they give money or personal information to. Everyone should also keep an eye on their credit reports to ensure that they can immediately detect any fraudulent activity.
  23. 23. Background Check Background checks are the processes of researching and compiling records from public sources to uncover information about an individual's history. Public records used as sources of information for background checks may include any of the following: Background checks are usually done to evaluate an individual's capacity or capability to do certain tasks. They tend to be more important for assignments that require a high level of security or trust. The person running a background check may be doing so for either commercial or personal purposes. Not all public records will be accessible to everyone. There are certain records that only specific individuals or agencies are able to access. Some public records may require a person to file a formal request that must be approved in order to access them, while others may only be accessible for a fee. The integrity of public records depends on the organization that collected the data.
  24. 24. Background Check Instant Checkmate performs criminal background checks intended for personal use only. The data delivered in our reports is collected from public records in state and county databases, court documents, and various online sources. Instant Checkmate does not provide credit information, or employment history of an individual. No compromising information (such as social security numbers, credit information, etc.) is ever reported or revealed in an Instant Checkmate background check. Due to the sensitivity of the information contained within public records, there are several important laws that regulate how this information can be used. Most importantly, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates the use of consumer reports (which it defines as information collected and reported by third party agencies) as they pertain to adverse decisions, notification to the applicant, and destruction and safekeeping of records.
  25. 25. Public Records Public records are documents or pieces of information that have been filed or recorded by local, state, federal or other government agencies, which are not considered confidential. Access to US national public records is made possible by the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), which allows members of the public to submit a request for access to records from various federal agencies. These requests may be denied if the documents are subject to exemption, or the information in them has been redacted. Since the federal FOIA law was passed, all states have passed their own versions of Freedom of Information legislation. Although these FOI laws have made it easier for members of the public to access public records, there are some restrictions. Each government has their own polices and regulations that govern the availability of information contained in public records. This means that there are many different degrees of accessibility to public records between states. Some states make it fairly easy to request and retrieve public documents while others are more restrictive.
  26. 26. Public Records The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law in 1966. The FOIA gives individuals the right to access certain federal agency records. The FOIA requires federal agencies to disclose requested records unless they are protected from public disclosure by the FOIA. Congress included in the FOIA nine exemptions and three law enforcement exclusions to protect important interests such as national security, personal privacy, privileged communications, and law enforcement. Under these exemptions, documents relating to classified information, internal personnel, privileged inter-agency memorandums, personal privacy, financial institutions that the SEC regulates, and documents containing exempt information about gas or oil wells will not be disclosed. In the United States, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guarantees and protects citizens.
  27. 27. Criminal Record A criminal record is a public report of an individual's comprehensive criminal history. Typically, it details all non-expunged criminal violations and arrests, including moving traffic violations that have been processed through the criminal court system. A person’s criminal record may include all arrests, convictions, charges dismissed, and even charges where the individual has been acquitted. In the US, criminal records are a matter of public record. Criminal records are government documents, which have been written, recorded, or filed by a member of law enforcement or court clerk.
  28. 28. Criminal Records Many states have formal "statewide repositories" which contain criminal background data provided by various regional and municipal courts inside the state. The federal government maintains comprehensive data on criminal backgrounds and serves as a central repository for every agency to report their own information. Law enforcement organizations often share arrest records with other similar enforcement specialists and the details are usually made available to the general public. Records of crimes committed by registered sex offenders are readily accessible to the general public because federal laws require states to update and maintain electronic sex offender registries. A national sex offender registry is accessible to the general public as well, for nationwide data on sex offenders.
  29. 29. Sex Offender Registration A sex offender database is a list of personal information about convicted sex offenders, usually made available to the public. Sex offender databases (also known as sex offender registries) can be private databases, but are more often associated with local and federal sex offender registries. Sex offender databases maintained by individual states are usually connected to The National Sex Offender Registry, which is officially known as the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Database. Sex offender registration is a system that exists in each state, which was designed to track the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders. Sex offender registries maintain a residential record of convicted sex offenders, including individuals who have already completed their criminal sentences.
  30. 30. Sex Offender Registration Details of an individual's crime are contained within the registry and are accessible to the general public. In most states, registered sex offenders must adhere to certain restrictions that limit where they are allowed to live and work. Sex offenders who are on parole or probation are often subject to additional limitations which do not pertain to other parolees or individuals on probation. Typically, an individual who is on parole or probation for committing a felony, has certain constitutional liberties withheld from them such as the right to own a firearm, and the right to vote. In addition to the loss of these basic freedoms, a convicted sex offender on parole or probation is restricted from the following activities: being in the presence of persons under the age of 18, and residing within a certain proximity to a school or daycare.
  31. 31. Larceny When it comes to the legal definitions of theft, larceny, burglary, and robbery, it can get confusing trying to differentiate between the three. They are all similar, but there are some very distinct differences between the three offenses. All involve stealing property from its owner, but they differ in how the crime is committed. Understanding the definition of larceny and what it entails can help people determine how it differs from the other crimes. Whenever someone takes an item or property of value from another person and plans to keep it for themselves, they've just committed larceny. It is also commonly referred to as theft, and the perpetrator is referred to as a thief.
  32. 32. Larceny There are varying degrees of larceny, but unlike other crimes, where the degrees differentiate more serious offenses, the degrees of larceny refer to the value of the item or items stolen. Typically, larceny is a misdemeanor crime. For example, shoplifting from a convenience store would most likely be a misdemeanor crime. The items do not have a high monetary value, but they were still stolen from the rightful owner making it a crime nonetheless. This minor offense is also known as petty larceny. There are instances in which larceny would be classified as a felony. Grand larceny, also sometimes referred to as grand theft, is classified as a felony.
  33. 33. Murder The taking of a human life is always serious, regardless of the circumstances. However, in the eyes of many, murder is perhaps the most serious offense anyone can commit. While homicide refers to the killing of a human being by another human being, it is not the same as murder. Homicide can occur accidentally or legally, such as when a law enforcement officer justifiably kills a suspect. The biggest difference between murder and these other examples is the person's intent. By definition, murder is the killing of one person by another with the intention of killing them and without legal excuse or authority. Self-defense is an example of a legal excuse that would justify the killing of another person. A law enforcement officer shooting a suspect is an example of a person who has the authority to kill another person.
  34. 34. Murder First-degree murder is the most serious type of murder. While the exact definition of what constitutes first-degree murder varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it usually refers to a killing that is both intentional and planned. It does not require intense planning, but the offender has had time to think about the act. The offender has ill will toward the victim and intends to cause him harm, which is what differentiates this type of homicide from the others. Another instance of first-degree murder is when someone dies during the commission of a felony. Even if the person committing that felony did not intend to kill someone, he would still be charged with first- degree murder, also known as felony murder.
  35. 35. Prostitution Often called "the oldest profession" and a crime seen by many as victimless, prostitution is illegal in almost every state in the United States. The basic definition of prostitution is performing sexual acts in exchange for money. This is seen in many different forms and there are several different types of perpetrators. While many people consider prostitution to be a victimless crime when two adults are involved, it is a crime nonetheless. Prostitution laws protect public health and safety. Additionally, they protect minors from being exploited for sexual purposes. Banning prostitution also aids in the prevention of other associated crimes.
  36. 36. Prostitution Prostitution is often a misdemeanor, both for the person engaging in prostitution and the "customer." There are other crimes associated with prostitution that are much more severe, and thus have harsher punishments. Such crimes include pimping, human trafficking, operating an unlicensed brothel, and exploiting minors. Conviction of these crimes could carry stiffer penalties than those for engaging in prostitution. At the misdemeanor level, those convicted of prostitution are typically required to pay a fine. They could also spend as much as 12 months in jail. Others may receive probation in lieu of a jail sentence. It greatly depends on the jurisdiction and the number of offenses. At the felony level, those convicted will see much longer prison sentences.
  37. 37. Robbery Any time a person takes something that is not his and has no intentions of returning the item, it is considered theft orlarceny. However, there are several different types of theft. One such type is robbery, which is the most violent form of theft. In this crime, the offender steals from a person and uses force to take it. Even if the victim does not sustain any injuries in the process, it is considered a violent crime. When a person commits robbery, he does not have to use a weapon. Even the threat of violence is enough to constitute a robbery. When the offender does use a weapon, this is known as armed robbery. The use of a weapon makes it a much more serious crime. As such, someone convicted of armed robbery will spend time behind bars in prison.
  38. 38. Robbery The penalty for bank robbery is often much more severe. This is because there are often other criminal charges to include. Forcing people to stay in the bank against their will constitutes kidnapping. If anyone is injured or killed in the process then the charges escalate quickly. So much so, that the penalty of a bank robbery could be a life sentence or even the death penalty. Instant Checkmate makes it easy to check on neighbors, friends, and even family to see if this crime, or another crime, is on their records.
  39. 39. Suspicion When it comes to investigating a crime, there is a specific process and procedure that must be followed. Suspicion is important in regards to justifying a stop or detention of a suspect. In particular, reasonable suspicion is necessary. It is often confused with probable cause, but the two are distinctly different. Understanding the differences can help people better understand the legal process and their rights. Additionally, learning what constitutes suspicion and how it affects a suspect can help those accused of crimes to put together a stronger legal defense.
  40. 40. Suspicion Suspicion is not enough because in most instances, it is based on perceptions and biases. That is why probable cause is necessary. It is in place to protect people against these biases. It also works the other way too. A person could skate by because he is above suspicion, meaning the way others perceive the individual makes it hard for anyone to believe that he could commit a crime. Because of this, law enforcement may look in other places when investigating a crime. Fortunately, suspicion is not proof and it is not enough to convict or even charge someone of a crime. However, suspicion is enough to cause problems and lead to some sticky legal situations. Instant Checkmate lets its users do their own investigating into the lives of their neighbors, old classmates, or even potential dates to see if they have a reason to be wary of them.
  41. 41. Vandalism Vandalism occurs when someone defaces or destroys someone else's property. One of the most common forms of vandalism is graffiti, where someone paints, draws, or writes on a building or other structure. It is a crime that many people commonly associate with youth, but vandals come from all walks of life. Additionally, vandalism covers a wide range of behaviors. Some forms of vandalism include the following: • Carving initials into a picnic table at a park • Spray painting or tagging the side of a building • Car vandalism • Mailbox vandalism
  42. 42. Vandalism Vandalism is a crime that costs property owners millions of dollars every year. Though it is not a violent crime, it is one that can cause a lot of stress and hardship on the property owners. As such, many jurisdictions create laws in an attempt to prevent vandalism. Additionally, those convicted of vandalism are required to pay fines, spend time in jail, clean up the vandalism, or face any number of penalties. Instant Checkmate can help its users avoid dealing with this type of crime by allowing the user to run a check on new acquaintances and learn if they have a history of this type of behavior.