Search Arrest Records

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What are arrest records?

If someone has been arrested anywhere in the United States, then a record of that arrest will exist either on file at the local police station and courthouse, or online on a computerized system if the incident occurred recently. An arrest record does not mean that someone was definitely guilty of the crime for which they were arrested; it merely means that the person was either involved or suspected of being involved in a criminal offence. Criminal arrest records do not always become a criminal record. The arrest record will detail what crime the person was arrested for and what the result of that arrest was, whether the person was let off, the case went to trial or if the matter is still under investigation. A public arrest record will also often tell you when the person involved is due to be released from prison, if they were found guilty and incarcerated. The actual details that are included on arrest records, and whether you can search on these details or not, varies from state to state.

Some details are included on all arrest records, as well as the details of the crime for which the individual was arrested by the police. The arrest report, compiled by the officers involved in the case, will usually include plenty of personal information, such as a description of the individual, name, address and date of birth. All of this information can not only be helpful in assisting you to carry out your initial search on public arrest records, but can also help you make sure you have identified the right person. Many arrest records will also contain a mugshot photograph, and it is these which you often see in tabloids and magazines after celebrities have been arrested. These are usually obtained without any deception by a journalist, which illustrates just how easy it is to get information and peace of mind from searching for someone’s arrest history.
All arrest records are public documents, though what kind of details are made public from within the police files can vary across the US. If you are not sure what information you can get from your state’s public arrest records, you can check with staff at police stations or court houses who will be able to advise you whether the specific information you seek is likely to be public or not.

Why do you need to search on arrest records?

There are several reasons why you might need to search public arrest records to see if a particular name comes up. One of the main groups of people who utilize online searches for arrest records is potential employers. More and more employers these days are starting to ask applicants if they have ever been arrested, rather than if they have ever been convicted of a crime. A lot of people think that arrest records are private or that if they were arrested a long time ago it will no longer exist and so they try to lie about this in their application forms. In some cases, such as juvenile arrest records, it is true that an employer cannot search for this person’s arrest history, as juvenile records are automatically expunged, or cleared, when the person turns 18. There are some exceptions to this in some states, such as for sexual or violent crimes, but most people who have an arrest report as a teenager get the chance to start again as an adult.

If you are an employer, you generally have the right to search for public records of every potential employee, though in some states you are not allowed to ask applicants if they have ever been arrested or discriminate against them if they have been arrested without being convicted of a criminal offence. Most bosses are only actually likely to spend the time and money on a search like this if the person is applying for a position of trust, such as being involved in cash-handling or working with children, or if they are suspicious that the applicant may have lied on their form. If an employer chooses to hire someone without carrying out this simple check, they have only themselves to blame if that person turns out to be unreliable.

Many people, particularly women, are starting to carry out searches on court arrest records and police arrests when they meet a new partner. This is especially true if the woman has young children and wants to make sure that her new boyfriend has never been arrested for any crimes involving young people. Just because a case did not make it to court or that person was found not guilty doesn’t mean that every mother would be happy to introduce them into their home. A quick and easy search of public arrest records is one way to find out if your potential new partner is really who they say they are, and that they have no skeletons in their cupboard!
An arrest report can be a useful tool in other aspects of your personal life, such as when you are looking to find a babysitter for your children. This can be a nightmare for many parents, who only have tools such as an arrest search to help them decide if their family will be safe with an individual who they might not know very well. Similarly, children’s charities can use these free arrest records to check out the credentials of any potential volunteers. Parents may even to choose to search on their address, to see if anyone who lives nearby has ever been arrested for crimes against children. Armed with this kind of knowledge, from easily accessed public arrest records, they can then keep their family as safe as possible.

How to search on public arrest records?

You will need certain pieces of information before you can start carrying out a search on someone’s arrest history yourself. It is vital that you know which state the arrest was likely to have taken place in or the different states where the person has lived. There is no freely available national database of arrest records, so if you searching yourself, you will need to use that state or states’ own individual arrest records. Personal information, such as name, date of birth and addresses, are also useful and you should try to compile as much of this data as possible before you even start you arrest records search. Staff at police stations and courthouses will be able to give you advice, but they also have their own jobs to do!
There are lots of internet sites that allow you to search on arrest records from all over the country. Most of these will charge you a fee for signing up or for their staff to conduct the search on your behalf. Most of the free sites will return only a limited amount of information from the criminal arrest records. This might be enough for your needs or you might then wish to pay to receive the full document.

Common problems

One of the most common problems that people encounter while carrying out searches in to public arrest records is that they fail to get a “hit” back on their search parameters, suggesting that the person whose name they are searching for has never been arrested. This could indeed be the case, but many people may have been arrested in the past in a different state to the one they now live in, or may have even given an alias when arrested. You can try and counter this by gathering as much information about the person whose arrest history you are researching and being prepared to spend a lot of time and perhaps even money searching police arrest records in other parts of the country. There are some online databases that offer a national search by compiling arrest records from all over the country, just note that most of these require users to pay a fee for the service, though some of them allow for a free initial search in their databases.

Sometimes people can apply to have their arrest records expunged. This means that they would be wiped from the system and would not appear in any searches, even those carried out by internet sites on your behalf. It can be quite a complicated legal process to have an arrest record expunged, though more and more people are applying to begin this process. Because it is so easy to search on public arrest records, people who were arrested once for a minor crime several years ago are finding that they are being discriminated against because of one black mark in their past. An arrest record can only be expunged if the case never went to court or of they were acquitted, or found not guilty, of the crime for which they were arrested. If someone was found guilty, then they cannot expunge their arrest record and you will still be able to find out the details by carrying out a search.