For this article we need to begin with a brief refresher in civics.  In the United States there are two types of courts – federal courts and state courts.

Federal courts are established under the Constitution to decide disputes involving federal laws and constitutional issues. State and local courts are established by a state to decide issues involving state laws.

Generally, federal courts only hear cases

  • in which the United States is a party;
  • involving violations of the Constitution or federal laws;
  • between citizens of different states if the amount involved exceeds $75,000;  and
  • involving bankruptcy, copyright, patent, and maritime law.

State courts cover a much wider variety of cases.  State courts hear cases involving

  • criminal acts – such as assault, robbery, drug possession;
  • contractual disputes; and
  • family matters – such as divorce and adoption;

Most criminal cases are brought for violations of state law.  Take robbery for example – most robbery cases involve state laws.  There are, however some federal laws that cover robbery.  It is a federal crime to rob a bank whose deposits are insured by the F.D.I.C.

Examples of other federal crimes include

  • bringing illegal drugs into the country or across state lines;
  • mail fraud; and
  • crimes committed on federal property (national parks or military bases).

So how does this relate to background screening? Consider this – most background screening companies provide a basic, multi-jurisdictional search that usually covers a large portion of the country by including records from multiple state and county sources.  But did you know that some criminal records involving crimes like the ones above may not be included in those databases?  You may want to consider adding a federal court records search to your background screening packages.  Watch for our client newsletter in which we will give some real-world examples of how running a federal court record search can uncover essential information in helping you make a smart hiring decision.