In early April 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted the 2019-2020 New York State budget. As part of the new budgetary law, there has been an increase in the fee that will be charged by the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) when you order a criminal background record search. The OCA provides a single data repository for the criminal data reported by the courts in all New York State counties and municipalities.
The fee increase became effective at 12:01 a.m. on April 13, 2019. The new fee for a routine criminal background record search from the OCA will be $95, per individual record search. This represents a 46% fee increase over the previous $65 (plus convenience fee) cost for the same record search. New York’s criminal background check record search fees were already the highest in the country. This fee increase, coupled with other state fee increases, will be used to generate an expected $60 million to support the state’s legal services fund for the indigent.
Although this hefty criminal background check fee increase was opposed by a coalition formed by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) and many concerned business groups, it remained within the budget that Governor Cuomo signed into law.
Under the FCRA, criminal conviction records searches must be conducted with “maximum possible accuracy.” The only way to ensure this level of accuracy is to conduct state-level court record searches, thereby protecting employers from legal entanglements. You should not rely, solely, on any type of “national criminal records database,” as these can be rife with incomplete and inaccurate records, including both geographical and time gaps, due to infrequent updates and missing data.
Even though the increased fee for criminal background record searches through the New York OCA is going to be burdensome, especially for those companies conducting mass hiring actions, it is the only way to obtain accurate data on job applicants who have ever lived or worked in New York.