As the Internet became a widely available source of all kinds of information, we as a society have become increasingly dependent on it for gathering information about virtually everyone. Bear in mind that we now live in a world driven by information technology. Each and every record we have is electronically filed and documented in online databases and repositories. In the state of Washington, there are agencies that are assigned to handle Criminal Records Washington and other public information that is deemed vital to our security.

In a world where dealing with unscrupulous individuals without one’s knowledge could spell disaster, having the appropriate information is a privilege that could prove beneficial. With the growing interest on the accessibility of public records, we need to accept the fact that our own records, our privacy, could be accessed by others as well, since gathering intel on an individual’s background works both ways. You can’t just do anything without having to face certain consequences.

Having access to free criminal records is just one of the perks of living in a democratic country. As free citizens, we possess the right to protect ourselves from any kind of danger. And doing background checks on other people by digging up their criminal history is just among the assets we can exploit in preventing and combating crime. This is also a good way for our government to show transparency by giving its citizens almost unrestricted access to public and vital records, as mandated in the Freedom of Information Act, provided of course that the proper procedures are observed in acquiring such information.

In the state of Washington, criminal records are gathered, stored and distributed by the Washington State Patrol Identification and Criminal History Section. All Washington criminal records go through this agency. And in the spirit of proper organization, the storage of all records is fingerprint-based. All relevant information regarding misdemeanor and felony arrests are found in the agency’s database. But like any government agency, there are proper procedures and processing fees that all requesters must deal with accordingly.

In conducting criminal record searches, one can easily find the records he requires by providing the complete name of the subject. If you have filed for a request via the postal mail, you will be charged $17 for every name you provide. On the other hand, if you do your search online, via the state’s public access website known as WATCH, or Washington Access to Criminal History, it will only cost you $10. But such costs may vary, since there are other types of searches that may require a bit more expertise, like fingerprint searches for instance. These will take you back around $26 and an additional $13 for fingerprinting fees, if done in person at the state patrol’s office.

As far as government policies and procedures go, you do not have to go through hoops to get the information you need. Sometimes, an easier method in accessing free criminal records is more efficient. And on that note, commercial record providers are much more effective in providing public records as there are no stressful procedures to follow. All you have to deal with is a diminutive one-time registration fee and you’re all set to do as many background searches as you want. Rest assured that many of these record providers’ databases are just as comprehensive and up-to-date as its government sanctioned counterparts.