On her third arranged date, Alice met a man, Harvey, whom she thought would fulfill all her dreams of having “Mr. Right” in her life for the rest of her days. Alice made a dire mistake.
Alice decided to try the internet dating service, Ace Dates (“Ace”). She was looking for a future soul mate and put her trust in Ace to help her find the perfect man. Alice was required to provide a photograph of herself and some personal background information. The Ace people would then find compatible fellows in their database and submit each party’s personal information to the other member of the potential couple, with first names only notated.
Through this process Alice got hooked up with a couple of gents that she met via the date scene. She was unimpressed with both. On her third arranged date Alice met a man, Harvey, whom she thought would fulfill all her dreams of having “Mr. Right” in her life for the rest of her days. Alice made a dire mistake.
After several dates and becoming quite accustomed to having Harvey around, Alice noticed some subtle changes in Harvey’s behavior towards her. Harvey seemed to have quite a temper, sometimes berating Alice loudly in restaurants. One day Harvey got so irritated with Alice that he clenched a fist as if to strike her. This was not at all the kind of relationship Alice had envisioned. She parted ways with Harvey soon after.
It turned out that Harvey had served two prison sentences for aggravated assault. One of the charges stemmed from his causing physical harm to a past girl friend. The charges somehow escaped Ace’s screening processes. Had Alice known beforehand of Harvey’s dark past she never would have made the connection with him. There was a way that Alice could have run a check on Harvey without his knowledge and with no charge to her.
Alice resided in Arizona in the City of Phoenix which was in the county of Maricopa. Alice could have accessed the Maricopa County Superior Court website (*). There she would have had the opportunity to search Harvey’s name under various court categories: Civil, Criminal and Family Court cases. Searching under the Criminal Cases tab, she would have found Harvey’s name and all the related court actions from the time he was first charged with a crime to the time he was sentenced. She also could have read the court’s minute entries relating to the various hearings involving Harvey.
Now knowing that Harvey had been sentenced to one of the state’s prisons, Alice could have accessed the state’s Department of Corrections website (**) and found out much about Harvey’s prison record, such as: the details of his charges and how many years he served in prison; at what jobs did he work while in prison; whether he had any disciplinary actions against him while in prison, and other information.
Accessing criminal background information on Harvey using the county superior court and the state department of corrections websites would have alerted Alice that it might not be a bad idea to dump Harvey before too much dating time had elapsed. And, the information would have been provided at no charge. (***)
Don Bays, CPA/ABV, CVA, CFF
(***) Although this article is applicable to background searches in Maricopa County, Phoenix, Arizona, readers in other Arizona counties and counties in other states may find that their counties offer similar research capabilities, at no charge.