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Database Update on February 02, 2023

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Florida Court Records Florida Court Records What are Florida court records? How to search for them; what information they contain and how this information can help you perform a criminal background check.
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Using Florida Court Records for a Criminal Background Check

Conducting a background check in Florida is much easier now that public records are largely online. But the availability of information does not mean there are no more difficulties. The main problem people face today when trying to track a person's criminal history is understanding the type of information which is included in these records and how to use ithis information in the most efficient way.  For example, do Florida court records include only convictions, or do they also include arrests for charges that were dismissed? The following article will try to answer these questions.

What Are Florida Court Records?

In theory, a background check (or a criminal record check) should be limited to convictions that were passed down in a recognized court of law. However, although many people believe that “innocent until proven guilty” is a codified part of U.S. law, the fact is that “presumption of innocence,” as it is known in legal terms, is not found in the Constitution. Rather, it is a principle following logically from the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.             

What this means for anyone who has either been arrested or convicted on criminal charges is that although the law cannot put you in jail if you were not found guilty of committing a crime, even an arrest without a conviction is a public document, and will therefore appear in any arrest search.

In fact, Florida’s Sunshine Laws governing the release of public information have blurred the lines between arrest records and court records for the purposes of background checks. A potential employer conducting a court records search will invariably turn up both convictions and/or arrests.  Not only that, but by searching court documents he may also turn up civil court cases that were heard in Florida, as well as any traffic infractions that the potential employee received.

Should the employer be one that is required to check national criminal databases along with state databases, the former will reveal arrests and convictions even in other states.  And if that’s not enough, a background check in Florida can even include outstanding warrants that haven’t been served yet! For further information, the FDLE provides an excellent fact sheet regarding court dockets at http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/Open-Government/Documents/FDLEGuidetoPublicRecords.aspx. It also shows which public records can be accessed by the public at http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/OGC/Public-Records.

How You Can Find FL Court Records

If you need to access Florida court records covering criminal cases, there are basically two ways to do that:

Using Statewide Resources 

  • For a fee of $24 (+$1.00 credit card fee), you can access the FDLE’s Computerized Criminal History (CHH) found at https://cchinet.fdle.state.fl.us/search/app/default?2. It unfolds a person's arrests and convictions in all of the state's counties.
  • The FDLE's Public Access System (http://pas.fdle.state.fl.us/pas/restricted/PAS/person/WantedPersons.jsf) lets you run a Florida warrant search by typing a suspect's name. You can use this database for free.

Using Your County Resources

Each county's Clerck of Court is in charge of processing and storing dockets issued by the court, including ones that deal with misdemeanor or felony cases. You will need to go to the Clek's office and file a FOIA request to view public records. Some Clerks will let you file an online request on their website and use U.S. mail for that.

There are Clerks who added an electronic criminal case search on their websites, so you can access dockets in the fastest and easiest way using your computer or smartphone. For example, you can access online Orange County court records at https://myeclerk.myorangeclerk.com/Cases/search.

The Importance of Court Records

Florida court records can give you a good indication of whether a person has a criminal history or not.  That is why it is important to know how to search for them and, once they are found, how to use the information they contain.