This day and age, it just pays to be cautious with the people you date. They might seem nice online or when you first meet them, but how do you know for sure? Behind that friendly smile, they could be a thief or gang member.
How do you find out? It’s not necessarily an easy process finding out if a person you’re dating is prone to violence, has dealt drugs or committed some other crime. But here are few suggestions for approaches you can take to find out the information you need (without ruining a potentially good thing in the process):
Sure, it will feel awkward to just come out and ask someone if they have a criminal history. But it doesn’t have to be too awkward as long as you approach it the right way. It’s all about setting the right tone first.
Make it sound like it’s no big deal. Tell them you’ve been burned before, and so you ask this of everyone you go out with since. It’s just part of your “getting-to-know-you” banter. Or perhaps joke with them about the time you got a stupid traffic ticket or had some other brush with the law. Sharing your own experience could help lead them into talking about their own.
If this approach gleans the information you want, great! Of course, the downside of this is that your date might still not divulge the information, no matter how convincing you might be. They might even out-and-out lie about it.
Ask Their Friends/Former Significant Others
If asking your date about this subject directly is just too intimidating for you—or you’re not certain they’re telling you the truth—you can always try asking the people around them what their criminal background may be.
You will want to try a similarly light-hearted approach to this. You definitely don’t want to make it sound like the relationship is doomed just because of your date’s criminal history. (It could be, but telling a person’s friends that is the best way to not get the info you want.)
Again, you’re dealing with humans here. They may not know everything about your date. And they, too, could lie to you (either to protect your date or set them up to fail, depending on the nature of their relationship). But if you do get some clues about your date’s background, you can at least use them as more substantial evidence with which to talk to them directly.
General Online Search
You can try to get more information without bothering anyone by starting with an Internet search of your date. Simply put in their name and see what comes up on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and so forth.
Look for news items in which your date’s name is mentioned. See if they show up as a person of interest for a crime. Were they just detained for something, or did they actually do time? If you find no mentions of your date apart from the numerous past charity events that your date attended, you may very well have nothing to worry about.
If your date has an unusual name, this approach can be effective. But if your date’s name is John or Jane Smith, your search results are going to be vast and probably somewhat difficult to narrow down to the right individual. And there are other possible limitations. Regardless of the commonality of a person’s name, it can also be difficult getting the full story behind any criminal activity with which they are associated. Finally, an online search may not be very revealing if any crimes in which your date was involved weren’t considered very news worthy at the time.
Dig into Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media channels can be invaluable resources of information about a person’s past. You can look into your date’s criminal history by searching for them on one or all of these channels. Once you find the right person, simply scroll through their pictures, posts, etc. to see if anything troublesome comes up.
You may very well find something suspicious going this route. But you cannot assume you’re getting the full story from things you find on a person’s social media feed. It can be a good starting place, but you’ll probably need to investigate further to get more details and context.
Criminal Records Online Search
For criminal records and other public records, your fastest course of action would be to perform an online criminal records search. It’s similar to a general online search, except your search would start on a site dedicated to collecting, aggregating, and displaying public records.
These public records are gathered regularly from official sources at the local, state, and federal levels. They include arrest records, court records, and jail records. As such, information about someone’s criminal involvement is available from someone’s arrest through their possible trial, conviction and sentencing. It’s the full picture.
You do still have to make sure that you have the right person. But as long as you have other defining details, like the city and state in which they live, narrowing things down is usually pretty easy. Another limitation here is timing; while generally timely, reporting agencies don’t necessarily pass along public records information on a daily basis.
Go to the Local Clerk’s Office
If you haven’t found convincing information online, you can always try to obtain your date’s public records information in person. You are likely to spend a greater chunk of your time to go to the clerk’s office, and possible fees for copying whatever documentation you require. However, going to the source can be a logical approach if you really need up-to-the-minute information. Depending on how really worried you are that your date could be a criminal (or at least have a criminal past), you should be able to get the answers you need by using one or more of these avenues. With that information in hand, you can then make the educated decision to move forward with your date, or call it a day.
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