What Are Arrest Charges?
Getting arrested is a big deal. Even if you are never convicted of a crime, the fact that you have simply been arrested can have a major impact on your life. Potential employers may be hesitant to hire you, landlords could deny you housing, and you may have a hard time qualifying for a loan. For these reasons and more, it is important to make sure you know what is on your arrest record. Arrest records are often needed by people living abroad, especially if they are working or studying abroad. Alternatively, you may want to find out if somebody you know, such as a neighbor or a new date, has a history of run-ins with the law. Knowing how to check my arrest charges is a question most of us don’t want to have to answer but it’s better to know just in case this scenario arises.
Are Arrest Charges Are Public Record
The general rule of thumb is that arrest charges are public; however, specific rules vary from state to state. Many states consider arrest records a matter of public record, which means that they are viewable by anyone. Other states, however, place restrictions on who can view a person’s arrest record and for what reasons. Employers, for example, are often prohibited from looking up the arrest record of an individual unless they have authorization to do so or if the job requires high security clearance. Some charges are also treated differently than others. Arrests related to sex crimes are generally made more public than other crimes, for example.
Also, keep in mind that many states allow people to expunge their arrest record if they meet certain conditions. We’ll discuss expungement in more detail below, but essentially it means that your arrest record, while still viewable to police and certain authorized people, will be kept hidden from the public.
What to Do If You’re Arrested
If you have been arrested it is important to stay calm. Remember that you do have the right to remain silent and a right to an attorney. It is almost always best if you exercise both of these rights. Trying to argue with the police rarely ends well and you could say something that could hurt your case later on. Ask to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will have a much better understanding of your rights and proper police procedures than you will and they may be able to get the charges against you thrown out or reduced.
Arrest Charges Lookup
Before looking up an arrest record, make sure you are not violating any laws by doing so. While performing an arrest charges lookup will rarely cause problems, if you are looking up another person’s arrest record you could inadvertently be breaking privacy laws. This is especially true if you are an employer checking a job applicant’s background. Even if that applicant’s arrest record is public, you still need to have authorization to use that record in determining whether he or she is a suitable candidate for employment.
As for looking up an arrest record, you have a couple of options. Remember that an arrest record is essentially one part of a criminal record, so the same rules that apply to looking up a criminal record also apply to looking up an arrest record.
You will first need to decide whether to get your arrest record from the FBI or from a local or state police department. If you need your arrest record for employment or other official purposes, then usually an FBI record will suffice. An FBI arrest record is known as an Identity History Summary. You can begin the application process for your Identity History Summary online by visiting the FBI’s webpage. You will need to fill out the application and pay the required fee. Also, you will need to provide a set of fingerprints to the FBI in order to complete your application. You can get your fingerprints done at your local police station. Note that you can only request your own Identity History Summary and not somebody else’s.
For local or state arrest records, the steps will vary depending on where you live. In some jurisdictions you can request a local or state arrest record online. Pennsylvania, for example, allows you to lookup an arrest record online. In other states and counties, however, you will need to head to your local police department and request an arrest record in person. Be sure to have your Social Security Number and a piece of photo I.D. with you when making a request. There will also usually be a fee that you will have to pay.
Lastly, you can use third-party databases in order to lookup arrest records and related information, including mug shots, criminal histories, and driving records.
Arrest Charges Expunged
Keep in mind that some arrest records can be expunged. While the exact definition of expungement varies from state to state, it generally means that the record of the arrest is no longer viewable by the public (including employers and landlords). Not all states offer expungement and those that do almost always restrict it to non-violent offenses. Furthermore, to be eligible for expungement you will usually have to go through a waiting period during which you cannot have any new arrests or convictions. Expungement is rarely automatic and it usually can only be obtained by petitioning a judge to grant it.
Hopefully most of us will not need to answer the question, ” How to lookup my arrest charges ,” but if this situation arises at least there are some guidelines you can follow