How to Find if Someone Was Arrested
Getting arrested is obviously not something that anybody ever intends to do. Whether it’s for unpaid tickets, traffic violations, misdemeanor drug possession or a more serious offense, keeping records is always smart so you know where you stand down the road. It can also be useful to know who else you know has been arrested, or has a criminal record. Knowing ” how to find if someone was arrested “, can be useful information for a multitude of reasons.
Of course, finding arrest records on individuals other than yourself may become a necessity if you’re hiring for a business or looking for legal documents related to family members. The concept of searching out old arrest records can be pretty confusing if you’re not an attorney or familiar with the system though.
Luckily, there are a variety of ways that average people can look up records to see if someone was arrested in the past. Keep reading to educate yourself before you start your search for past criminal and arrest records.
What is an Arrest Record?
An arrest record is commonly referred to as a criminal record. In fact, most people that you come across will refer to records using this more common nomenclature. In the simplest terms, an arrest record is a document designed to detail a person’s criminal history.
On an arrest record, you may find one or more criminal charges. In some cases, old criminal charges may be removed, particularly if an individual committed a crime when they were a minor and now they are an adult. That’s because old arrests are often expunged so they don’t retroactively penalize a person for past mistakes many years later.
Arrest records are typically held by law enforcement agencies or judicial administrative arms if a court case went in front of a judge.
Are Arrest Records Public?
Arrest records are generally available to individuals of the public. However, if a case is currently ongoing, is in court or there is simply suspicion about whether a person committed a crime, you may not be able to find any record at all.
Old records where a person was not convicted of the crime are also sealed and not made public, though most police and judicial systems do keep these records. Expunged records for minors or individuals who performed community service, for example, are not available to the public either.
How to Find Arrest Records
- Request your own criminal records from the state where you were arrested. For example, you can get your own records from the state of California here. You may be required to submit fingerprints to prove your identity.
- Go to the country clerk’s office in the country where the person was arrested if you are looking for records on someone else. You may be able to request these records online with a fee associated, though you are not likely to get a copy of official records.
- Use a third-party search site to do a basic search. While these are not official records, they can provide information very quickly.
- Hire a private investigator or attorney to help you. This is often an ideal option if you’re trying to find old arrest records or perform a background check on somebody like a potential employee.
Checking arrest charges can seem complex, but there are a few ways you can find your own. You may also be able to find another individual’s arrest record using the methods outlined in the ” how to find arrest records ” list above.
Types of Arrest Records
Arrest records can give you an idea of a person’s past, but there are a few different types of crimes to look for. Here are some of the most common types you’ll see after a successful search:
- Misdemeanor records. These records are reserved for minor offenses and typically do not have a major impact on a person’s future. Misdemeanor offenses may fall off your criminal record after a certain amount of time depending on the state you’re in as well.
- Traffic records. These are reserved for traffic violations and crimes related to things like large amounts of unpaid parking tickets.
- Felony records. More serious crimes like drug sales, arson, assault and murder are often listed as felonies. These tend to stay on a person’s record for many years. In some cases, a felony charge will never be removed.
These are just a few of the most common types of criminal records you can find online and through in-person searches. Other types of arrest records may exist depending on the jurisdiction where the report was created.
Do You Get a Criminal Record for Being Arrested?
A criminal record is simply a recording of a crime that has been committed. For this reason, a criminal record is created every time an individual is arrested. If the person has been arrested before, a new crime will be added on that date.
However, it’s important to note that not all criminal records are serious or problematic for everyone. A misdemeanor, for example, will likely fall of your record before long. Felonies, on the other hand, may stay on your record permanently.
Finding a criminal record, whether you’re looking for your own or somebody else’s, doesn’t have to be hard. With this guide, you should be able to find your own history or get basic information about potential employees, family members and anybody else in your area.
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.
How to Lookup Your Arrest Record
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.
Can My Arrest Charges Be 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
Search Arrest Records By State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia