Learn How to Find Out if and Where Someone is in Jail
How to find out who is in jail is common question. In many cases, a person is taken to jail immediately after being arrested. That person will typically remain in jail at least until their arraignment. Unless the person is released on his or her own recognizance or posts bail, he or she will remain in jail throughout the duration of any hearing. If found guilty, the judge will determine exactly how long the person must remain in jail.
If someone you know has been arrested and you want to know if he or she is in jail, or if you know someone who was in jail and want to know if he or she is still there, there are several ways to find out. Here’s a look at the best ways to find someone in jail, either online or offline.
Understanding the Jail System
Before you start looking for a person in jail, you must first understand how the jail system works. Although not necessary, it’s helpful to know what stage of the jail legal process the person is at to make sure you are searching the right jails.
- Recently Arrested: Immediately following an arrest, the offender is usually taken to the local jail in the county where the arrest took place. If the arrest took place in the same county as the crime, the offender will likely remain at the same jail until the trial, unless bail is posted. If the crime occurred in a different county from the arrest, the offender will most likely be transported to a jail in the county where the crime took place to stand trial. It may be difficult to find information on an inmate’s location until this transfer takes place.
- Awaiting Trial: Unless the charges are dropped, a defendant is released on his or her own recognizance or bail is posted, he or she will remain in jail in the county where the trial is to take place. In most cases, the defendant will remain in this jail until the conclusion of the trial or until sentencing.
- Post Sentencing: Sentencing will determine what type of jail the defendant will be in for the duration of sentencing. Sentences of less than one or two years — depending on the state and county — generally allow the defendant to remain in the county jail. Defendants that must serve longer sentences will be sent to state prison. The location of the state prison inmates are sent to will depend on location and which prison has space available. Defendant may change prisons several times throughout their sentences.
- Federal Crimes: Anyone arrested for a federal crime may initially be brought to the county jail, but will then be transferred to one of the federal prisons to await trial.
How to Do a Direct Jail Search Online
If you know the county where the arrest or the crime took place, you may be able to answer the question, “How to find out who is in jail,” just by checking the county’s website. You also can check out the website for the local sheriff’s office or police department. Many counties now offer a free online database of all inmates being housed at the county jail. You will need to know the person’s gender and first and last names in order to search the database. If possible, try to find out the person’s age or date of birth to make sure that you find the right person and not just someone with the same name.
If your county doesn’t have an online inmate database, it may provide online court records. Check the county’s Municipal Court portal and see if it provides court docket information. This data usually includes the jail or prison where the person is being held, or if the person has been released from custody.
If you cannot find the person you are looking for, check all neighboring counties just to be sure. Keep in mind that it may take several days or weeks for the online information to be updated. So if you don’t find what you’re looking for right away, you may want to keep checking.
How to Do a Third-Party Jail Search Online
How to Find Out Who is In Jail can be accomplished online. There are many third-party vendors that offer online inmate search services. In many cases, you only need to enter the person’s first and last names and the database will provide you with a list of everyone that matches that criteria. These third-party vendors typically charge a fee for these services, but offer a good way to find someone in jail even if you don’t know where the arrest or the crime took place. You need to be careful with this approach — make sure that you are dealing with a legitimate online vendor. Always read the fine print and look for hidden fees, such as a monthly subscription fee, before authorizing these services.
How to Do an Offline Jail Search
The good news is that you don’t even need to use the internet to find someone in jail. You can simply contact the local jail or police department where the arrest or crime took place. Be sure to use the non-emergency phone number, which can be found on the county website or in the local phone book. You may have to call several county jails and police departments, but you should have no problem finding the information you need in the end. A faster method is contacting the arresting officer directly. As long as you know the officer’s name and phone number, he or she should be able to tell you exactly what jail the person is in.