Locating a criminal record could require knowing exactly what type of crime was committed. The U.S. legal system places crimes into three categories, and the category of crime can also affect what type of court the criminal case was tried in, and therefore, where those records are kept.
The three crime categories are Infractions, Felonies, and Misdemeanors. Infractions are punishable with fines and include parking violations, traffic violations, and noise citations. Misdemeanors are punishable by less than one year in prison and include aggravated harassment, assault, sexual abuse, criminal trespass, and driving while intoxicated. Felonies are much more serious crimes, and are punishable by more than one year in prison or even death. There are three main types of Felony crimes: violent crimes, non-violent crimes, and property offenses. Violent felonies include rape, sodomy, sexual abuse of a minor, kidnapping, assault causing serious injury, gang assault, homicide (criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter, murder). Felonies classified as property offenses include armed and unarmed robbery, burglary, larceny, fraud, forgery, and arson; and non-violent felonies include drug possession, and drug trafficking.
Furthermore, because there are many different types of crimes, in most states, different levels of crimes are tried in different types of courts. If you are looking for criminal records, it is important to know what type of court the criminal case was in. Also, when searching for criminal records, keep in mind that every state has its own court system. For example, in Alabama, misdemeanors can be in Circuit, District, and Municipal Courts while felonies are only tried in Circuit and District Courts. Yet, in California, all cases are tried in the Superior Court. CourtReference.com provides state by state information about what types of cases are heard by which courts.