Tracking down the right public records when conducting a background check in Mississippi becomes a headache rather quickly – unless you are armed with the inside information in this detailed guide.
Mississippi records can be scattered across a number of different state organizations and agencies, some of them a little less obvious to investigate than others. This disjointed approach to maintaining state records can definitely hinder a background check and slow things down.
Luckily though, with this guide, you’ll be able to move much smoother through the background check process than you might have been able to otherwise.
Mississippi Background Check Info You Need to Know
For starters, you should know that Mississippi enacted new state laws in 1983 to clean up the public records system – or lack thereof – that they were dealing with at the time.
Up until 1983, the best way to describe how Mississippi was handling its public records would be to call it “messy”.
Almost none of their records have been digitized at that point, there was no real plan to do so, either, and individuals and organizations looking to conduct a background check had to jump from one location and agency to another just to find the answers they were looking for.
After the 1983 Mississippi Public Records Act passed, though, the state started to clean things up quite a bit.
The act not only cleaned up the databases and instituted agency sharing, but it also helped to provide very strict and very clear guidance on how the more than 25 million public records maintained by Mississippi would be handled and shared with those conducting background checks.
Can Anyone Look Up Someone’s Background in Mississippi?
In most (but certainly not all) circumstances, practically anyone has the opportunity to legally and lawfully request public records when they are pursuing a background check on a citizen of Mississippi.
Open public records are available to anyone and everyone interested in doing this kind of search, including those that do not live, do not work, and do not own a business in the state of Mississippi.
Closed public records, however, are not available to just anyone and everyone.
These public records have exemptions built-in, including exemptions for employment applications, personnel matters, tax and financial reasons, academic examination questions, and a handful of other exemptions established by the Public Records Act of 1983.
Every department has a different application process that needs to be followed to get the ball rolling, however. We cover that little more in-depth in just a moment.
What Type of Info Shows Up on a Mississippi Background Check?
All kinds of information are available when a Mississippi background check is approved.
Let’s start with criminal records.
These kinds of background checks are conducted by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, the “parent agency” of the Criminal Information Center – the database where all Mississippi criminal records are held and maintained.
These records are available online (for the most part), though some sensitive records may only be accessed after visiting a local law enforcement agency and requesting permission to see those documents in person.
Information in these kinds of criminal records (but are not limited to)
- Personal information (name, date of birth, etc.)
- Mugshots whenever applicable
- Listings of all distinguishing features (scars, tattoos, etc.)
- Arrest record information
- The type of offense (either a misdemeanor or a felony)
- A general description of the crime that was committed
Court records are available in Mississippi, too, though there are eight different types of courts in the state judicial system – and all of them have to be navigated individually when you’re looking for this type of information.
The Mississippi Judiciary website definitely provides a bit of a “one-stop” overview of the kinds of records you may be able to find, as well as help to better laser in on the documents or information a background check is seeking.
At the end of the day though, when individuals or organizations in Mississippi are looking to run a court background check they are usually going to have to contact each individual court independently.
After they do so, though, they’ll usually gain access to this type of information from the court clerk:
- Docket information, including date and time
- Any and all briefs and orders
- Opinions of the court (where applicable)
- Conviction or acquittal information
Inmate information can be found via the Mississippi Inmate Records maintained by the Department of Corrections website.
Inmate records usually include:
- Personal identifying information (name, birthday, etc.)
- Mugshots (where applicable)
- Current location of the inmate in question
- Inmate registration information
- Any jail transfer details
- Current custody status
Vital records in the state of Mississippi are maintained by the Mississippi Vital Records organization.
To take advantage of these records during a background check, individuals or businesses will have to reach out directly to the physical Mississippi Vital Records offices in either Ridgeland or Highland Colony.
Online records are available as well, though these records are sometimes not as complete as the kinds of records available in person at either of those two offices.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Reach?
Different types of background checks are going to have different limitations placed on them, though the overwhelming majority of states (including Mississippi) allow criminal background checks to stretch back seven years from the day that the background check was initiated.
This is in line with federal law rules and regulations as outlined in both the Fair Credit Reporting Act as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Bankruptcy background checks can stretch back 10 years, credit history checks can also stretch back 10 years, and criminal felonies (convictions, not just arrests) can stretch back 10 years as well.
How Do I Run a Mississippi Background Check?
Running a background check in Mississippi is (generally) pretty easy to do.
Everything starts with establishing what kind of background information you’re looking for in the first place.
If all you want are criminal records and information before you hire an individual for your business, you’re going to want to reach out to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
Their online database is to search and generally pretty easy to use, but you can get even more in-depth information and help using their records by visiting one of their local offices or even heading down to a local law enforcement department to see if they can assist, too.
Further information regarding criminal history can be found by visiting the Mississippi Department of Corrections or reaching out to any of the local and county level judiciaries.
As we mentioned earlier, though, Mississippi does have eight different judiciary levels (more than most other states) which definitely makes searching for court records a lot more time-consuming and arduous than it would have been in other places.
Can Third-Party Background Check Companies Be Trusted?
As far as whether or not third-party background check companies can be trusted to provide you with accurate results in a timely fashion, this is a difficult question to answer – if only because there are so many different kinds of companies out there providing effective services.
Some of the companies in this space are very efficient, very accurate, and very professional – experts at what they do. They are able to dig up all the information you are looking for while conducting a Mississippi background check without you having to handle any of the heavy liftings.
Other companies in the space, however, are not going to help you do anything you wouldn’t have been able to do all on your own. These companies comb public records (open records), aggregate the information they discover, and then present it to you in a nifty little form (most of the time).
But that’s all information you would have been able to find on your own with just a bit of free time.
At the end of the day, you really the to look into the track record and reputation of the third-party background check service you’re thinking about working with if they have a solid reputation in the industry they are probably worth moving forward with.
How Long Does It Take to Run a Mississippi Background Check?
If you are looking to conduct a statewide check through the Department of Public Safety in the state of Mississippi (using the Criminal Information Center database) then you can generally expect your background check information to be returned to you within about three hours.
That is a lot faster than most other states in the US, but it really goes to show just how much cleanup work the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983 did to help realign these systems.
FBI checks are going to take a little bit longer (no surprise there), with these checks taking anywhere between two business days and seven business days or longer. If you haven’t gotten any information back regarding FBI checks conducted with the help of Mississippi authorities after seven business days it’s a good idea to reach out and see what’s going on.
How Much Do Background Checks in Mississippi Cost?
As far as how much background checks cost in Mississippi is concerned, statewide checks (like the ones we mentioned earlier) are going to cost $32 per check and are available to both individuals as well as organizations.
FBI checks are a little bit less expensive, however, coming in at $27.50 (and that’s using the Fieldprint system).
Individuals can check the Mississippi sex offender registry 100% free of charge with absolutely no limitations whatsoever.
Are There Background Checks for Firearms in Mississippi?
All firearms purchased by citizens of Mississippi from a Federal Firearms License dealer are going to have a background check run before the transaction goes forward.
Individuals will have to fill out Form 4473 and submitted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System maintained by the FBI. From there, the FBI will investigate the background of the individual question and give a green light, a red light, or a delayed response for that specific transaction.
If a green light is given, the firearm transaction proceeds as normal.
If a red light is given, however, the NICS background check is denying the transfer and the firearm cannot be sold to that person.
If a delayed response is given, the NICS agents have up to three days to respond with either a green or red light or the firearm transaction can proceed forward without an answer at all.
Mississippi is what is known as a “shall issue” state when it comes to firearm licenses with Constitutional Carry available as well.
This means that there is no permit necessary (and no statewide firearm registration) when individuals want to purchase, own and possess firearms in the state.
Concealed carry is legal without a permanent for anyone that is legally able to possess a firearm, provided that the firearm is carried inside of a holster or a sheath.
Mississippi also has a reciprocity permit that allows individuals that apply for and receive a concealed carry permit to continue carrying concealed in a number of other states that recognize this permit issued by Mississippi.
Permits can be applied for by applicants that are at least 21 years old (or 18 years old and a member of the military or a veteran) and are issued on a “shall issue” basis.
What About Mississippi Driving Records?
Mississippi driving records can be accessed by visiting the Mississippi Department of Public Safety website and then navigating to be Mississippi DMV portion of that platform.
Once there, individuals will be asked for the following information:
- Mississippi drivers license
- Last four digits of their Social Security number
- Their last name
- Their first name
- Their middle name and
- Their date of birth
Visitors will want to make sure that they have their credit card or debit card ready to go, too. These records are going to cause $11 (as of early 2021).
Can I Search Mississippi Sex Offender Records?
The Mississippi Sex Offender Registry can be searched by any individual within the state of Mississippi or anywhere else, without restriction and without having to pay any fee whatsoever.
This registry is available at www.state.sor.dps.ms.gov, and visitors will immediately be given an opportunity to accept the Conditions of Use form before they are given access to the database itself.
Tools are provided to help individuals and businesses search by name, geographic location in Mississippi, and recent community notifications.
This website also has tools and resources for individuals interested in the Mississippi Sex Offender Registry as well as a contact form to help fix any inaccurate or incomplete information that may be discovered.
How Do I Get Credit History During a Background Check?
The state of Mississippi has little to nothing to do with financial background checks, particularly when it comes to the credit history of Mississippi citizens.
Instead, these kinds of checks are always going to be conducted by the three major credit bureaus responsible for maintaining this information in the first place. Those three major credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
All of the information found during these kinds of background checks need to adhere to the rules, regulations, and laws as established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
It’s also not legal for employers to look at this kind of information without first getting the written and signed permission of the job applicant that they are considering for a position. It may not even be possible for this information to be looked up with that consent until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended to a citizen of Mississippi, either.
At the end of the day, though, all financial and credit history information is going to need to be looked into through these three credit reporting bureaus. Mississippi State offices and officials have nothing to do with this kind of data whatsoever.