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North Carolina

North Carolina Public Records Laws

North Carolina’s Public Records Law grants individuals the statutory right to inspect and copy a large amount of North Carolina public records. This is based on the belief of North Carolina that the information held within the public records is the property of the people.

The law dictates that any record of a public agency is accessible to the public through a request. A public agency is defined broadly as any agency of North Carolina government or one of its subdivisions. Within this scope fall public offices, institutions, boards, bureaus, councils, departments and commissions serving the state government.

The materials defined as public record are also broad, including any document, map, paper, letter, book, photograph, film or electronic data made or received in regards to public business by a government agency. Any of these items can be requested, but an agency may deny a request if an exemption is applicable. Exemptions include not divulging information regarding certain government lawsuit settlements, withholding access to criminal investigation records and multiple others.

For further information regarding North Carolina’s public records law, examine chapter 132 of North Carolina’s General Statute in its entirety.

North Carolina Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

North Carolina criminal records are maintained and distributed by the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction. Only Criminal Justice personnel may apply to receive information maintained in the offender information online database that has been password protected, as these precautions have been set in place so only authorized personnel may access the information.

There is a public name-based search database as well, which can be used to search for offenders by name, offender number, gender, race, ethnic group, birth data and age range. The database entry for any given offender may include information regarding their name, offender number, sentence type, probation status and offense date. The public online database can be found on the North Carolina Department of Public Safety website.

The North Carolina Court System is responsible for overseeing and distributing state issued background checks. Individuals may request a one-time background check or continue the process with ongoing criminal background checks. More information regarding the two options can be found on The North Carolina Court System website.

North Carolina Jail and Inmate Records

Jail and inmate records for North Carolina may be found using the same name-based search database as for North Carolina criminal records, which is run by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. Searches for jail and inmate records can be conducted using the inmate’s name, offender number, gender, race, ethnic group or birth date. The information reaped from a search can include the offender’s name, gender, race, incarceration stats, current location and sentence history.

More information regarding North Carolina’s jail and inmate records can be found within North Carolina’s Victim Notification Service (VINE) Profile.

North Carolina Court Records

North Carolina Court Records are, for the most part, available to public access and copying. The right to access court documents is not absolute, however, and contacting the court clerk before requesting documents will help with a more successful search.

Online requests can be made through the Eastern District of North Carolina United States District Court website for cases within the Eastern District of North Carolina only.

Further information regarding requesting North Carolina Court Records can be found on the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts website.

North Carolina Vital Records

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for maintaining and distributing North Carolina Vital Records. These records include birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates. Birth certificates are available from 1913, death records are available from 1930, marriage certificates are available form 1962, divorce certificates are available from 1958 and fetal death reports are available from 2001.

Certificates may be ordered using the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website. Same day service for vital records is available when visiting the walk-in window at the Raleigh location of the department.

If you need North Carolina background checks specifically for employment, read on!

North Carolina Background Checks

As far as criminal background checks go, North Carolina carries a slightly easier system than many states. While North Carolina is lighter than most states, many professions still require that an employee screening be done prior to employment.

What Professions Require Background Checks in North Carolina?

There a multitude of professions in NC that require a criminal check by the state. These positions include anyone applying to:

• Hospitals
• Nursing homes
• Mental health facilities
• Home care agencies
• Day care facilities
• Child Placement agencies
• Substance abuse facilities
• Any for profit or non profit institution that provides care to children, the sick, disabled or senior citizens.

While an employee background check is required for all of these positions, it is important to note that the employer cannot just start a background check. All employers are required by North Carolina state law to gain consent from prospective employees prior to starting a background check. Any employee that does not want a background check does not have to be employed.

What to consider before doing NC Employment Screening

There are a few things to consider when employers conduct a background check. These include the level of a particular crime. Was it a felony? How serious was the crime? How frequently did it occur? The employer must also consider when the crime occurred and how old the potential employee was when the crime was committed. On top of this, it is important to take into consideration the circumstances surrounding a potential crime and why the future employee might have committed the crime.

Even if an applicant has committed a serious crime, it is not enough to prevent them from getting the job. The employer has to consider a number of factors and if it is deemed acceptable, the applicant may still be hired. If the employee is not hired, the employer has the right to tell the applicant why they were barred from the job, but they are not allowed to show the applicant the criminal record they obtained.

Applicants are protected by two separate laws regarding employment screening. The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides protection to applicants that may have been the victim of inaccurate criminal records. Many employers hire a third-party organization to handle the employment screening.

Do Applicants in NC have to disclose Expunged Convictions?

In North Carolina, it is not required for applicants to let employers know about expunged crimes and employers are not permitted to ask if an applicant has had any crimes expunged from their record. If these expunged crimes are uncovered during a background check, it can greatly hinder one’s ability to get hired.

Laws for Nurses, Barbers and Other Professionals in NC

Depending on what type of job one is applying for, the background check laws differ. Whether it be a teacher, nurse, doctor, or barber, North Carolina separates the laws regarding employment based on the type of job and licensing board that the job reports with and oversees. According to law 115C-296, the North Carolina State Board of Education is prohibited from hiring anyone with a criminal record.

The same thing applies to the nursing occupation. Any nurse that has committed a crime that the state views as making them incapable of being a competent nurse can be barred from being hired.

Barbers also face a similar dilemma when looking for jobs, albeit one that is more strict. Barbers may be refused a job if they have committed any felony at all. Their employers do not have to consider what the felony was or the circumstances surrounding that felony at all. The barber law can be viewed at the following website.

North Carolina is overall a friendly state for employees and potential hires. By preventing employers from seeing expunged crimes and establishing two solid laws that protect prospective employees. Employers are forced to consider the circumstances surrounding a crime unlike in other states where this is not required. North Carolina remains a spot that is great to be a potential hire even if a potential criminal record exists.


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