Conducting a criminal records search is a key component of both investigative due diligence research and background screening and it is far more complicated than it may appear. Contrary to popular belief, there is no publicly-available nationwide database that tracks a criminal history across the country. Although the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (“NCIC”) maintains a nationwide criminal database, its access is extremely limited. Beyond law enforcement agencies, only a select group of employers who are legally authorized or mandated to submit staff fingerprints can search NCIC. The NCIC is also not nearly as complete as one might expect, as NCIC depends strictly on state and local jurisdictions to report information. Another important concern in the NCIC system is that it maintains arrest related information. Final dispositions are often not recorded and when they are may not be accurate or up-to-date. This can be an important legal compliance issue for employers when making a hiring decision based upon information obtained from NCIC.