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research anyone anonymously online through our databases of
criminal, arrest records and warrants. Conduct an unlimited number of anonymous
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warrant records before you take someone’s word at face
value. All you need is their first name and last name to get started.
What is an Arrest?
An arrest occurs when police
or other law enforcement officers take an individual into custody of
the respective state or federal government, stripping that person of
their personal freedoms provided by the United States’ Constitution.
Upon being arrested, the arrestee is notified of the crime s/he is
being arrested for, and read their Miranda Rights. These rights
include that the individual has the right to legal counsel, the
right to remain silent, and the right to prevent self-incrimination
by complying with an interrogation by officials.
When someone is arrested in
the U.S., they are typically handcuffed and taken to the local jail
or prison to be processed while awaiting bail or arraignment by the
courts. During this processing, a mug shot is taken as well as
fingerprints, and information is recorded such as current address,
driver’s license number and other identifiers during the intake
According to the FBI’s Uniform
Crime Reporting Database, more than 14 million arrests took place in
the U.S. in 2008.
Information about an Arrest
Arrest records are created
with each arrest that takes place, and the arrest report is filed
with the respective government entities for future reference. This
happens whether the individual is ever convicted of the crime s/he
was originally arrested for.
Arrest reports are available
from the local law enforcement offices, and generally contain dates
of arrest, mug shots and the outcome of the court appearance
following the arrest. If the arrested individual was convicted of
the charge and served jail time for the crime, this information is
generally available as well.
For the most complete arrest
information, you may visit your local law enforcement agency’s
website, or request a RAP sheet from the FBI.
An arrested individual is
considered to be “in custody” if s/he is unable to leave the
premises of his or her own accord. Any admittance or statements
acquired from an individual are typically not admissible as evidence
in the court of law if his or her Miranda rights were not read
during the arresting procedures.
Implications of an Arrest
An arrest may be made if an
individual is suspected of committing a crime, or to prevent a crime
from taking place. You are not considered to be arrested until you
are in the custody of police or law enforcement officers. This means
that traffic stops and interrogations where the subject is allowed
to leave at any time do not constitute arrests.
Being arrested creates a
report and record that is maintained by the arresting agency for
future reference. These records can be searched for and viewed by
the public, and are often viewed when pre-employment checks are
required for specific positions. If you are applying to a
professional school, you may also be asked if you have ever been
arrested in the past. In this case, you will often be required to
provide details of the arrest and the disposition of the case.
Though public sources offer
access to these records, private sources provide more complete
information that spans both state and federal databases.
What are Arrest Records?
Arrest records are created
with each and every arrest that takes place, regardless of
disposition of the case. They are typically maintained with the
arresting agency, whether it be the state police or FBI. However, if
the arrestee is not found guilty of the original charge, these
records may be expunged after a certain period of time. In addition,
juvenile records are kept from public viewing to protect the
Information Contained in
These records typically
include an arrest report, which provides the identity of the
arrested individual, his or her names and aliases, the dates
of arrest, the offense s/he was charged with, and the court’s
disposition on the case. These reports include both misdemeanor and
felony arrests, and may also include mug shots of the accused.
Other information found on the
report includes the arresting agency, the race and sex of the
arrestee, the place of birth, height, weight, eye and hair color.
The original and filed charges by the prosecutor, as well as the
classification are also included.
Each state maintains the
arrest records for a prescribed amount of time, and many offer a
search service online.
Reasons for Accessing the
Arrest records can be useful
when conducting a background check for employment purposes, or
simply to verify that your own record is correct. Using a private
service can also allow instant and accurate searches for both
federal and state records at once, saving time and effort using all
What is a Conviction?
When someone is
charged with a criminal offense and the court determines s/he is
guilty of the crime, this is considered a “conviction” in criminal
law. Regardless of whether the conviction is a result of a judge or
jury trial, this is reflected in the individual’s criminal history
record for years to come.
Records of Convictions
When you access
someone’s criminal record, you will see the dates of arrest, formal
charges and any convictions decided upon by the court. These
convictions are present whether the offense was a felony or
misdemeanor, or any petty offense that the court has determined the
party guilty of. You may also be able to access probation, fine,
prison and probation information as well as dishonorable military
Uses of Conviction
employers will ask job applicants of any arrest, conviction or other
criminal history during the interview process. Upon conducting a
criminal record check, the employer may also inquire about the
circumstances of the conviction. However, an employer may not refuse
to hire someone due to a conviction unless the said crime is
substantially related to the job duties to be performed.
Finding Records of
Due to federal and
state privacy laws, personal information such as home addresses and
Social Security numbers are redacted from the records. In addition,
if someone has had their records expunged you may not be able to
access histories of criminal convictions. Each state varies, so
you’ll need to check with your local law enforcement agency.
If you need to establish
whether someone has a criminal history, you first must gather as
much information about them as possible. Past addresses, aliases,
date of birth and even Social Security information may be used to
check for criminal records in someone’s name.
Reasons to Check for a
Criminal history records may
include arrests, warrants, convictions, drunk driving records and
even sex offender records. Background checks which screen for these
issues in a person’s past are often conducted prior to employing
them, especially in sensitive positions where they may be in daily
contact with children or the elderly. It is also generally a good
idea to screen potential tenants, babysitters or other workers who
have access to your personal property for a criminal history.
State vs. Federal Criminal
One thing to keep in mind is
that state records are always kept completely independent of federal
records. In addition, state records do not translate to other
states, so you must go directly to the source to find them. This
means that if the search subject was arrested in New York but now
lives in Washington, checking records in Washington will not
necessarily reveal their criminal history from New York. This is why
private searches for records are well worth the minimal cost--to
ensure a complete check of multiple databases, screening for both
state and federal records.
You may also conduct a quick search at the National Sex Offender
In addition, every state maintains its own criminal check system, so
you must approach your local state police department if you plan on
searching for publicly held records on your own.
What are DUI Records?
DUI records are considered
part of a larger group of criminal records that may be connected to
any driver’s past. These drunk driving records can include records
of DUI, DWI, OWI or other charges according to a specific state’s
definitions and statutes regarding levels of the offense. You may
want to access DUI records in order to ensure accuracy of your own
record for insurance purposes, or to check a potential employee when
one of their primary responsibilities will be driving.
Levels of DUI Offenses
Every state has now adopted
laws which consider any level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
over 0.08 percent to be a criminal driving offense. This BAC is
measured using a breathalyzer or other chemical test, and field
sobriety tests may also be used by an arresting officer. Some states
offer additional offenses, namely Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), which may be filed against a
driver if his or her BAC is under 0.08 but over a different,
specified level, such as 0.04. These charges are further categorized
as either misdemeanor or felony offenses.
A DUI record will contain
dates of arrest, name of the driver, official charges filed, and
disposition or outcome of the case. If someone’s DUI records state
that s/he was convicted of the charges, there will also be
information available about the sentence imposed. This may include
fines, jail time (one year or less for misdemeanor and over one year
for felony charges), suspended license, DUI school and/or probation.
Finding DUI Records
The National Driver Register, though not an official database, may
hold records of alcohol-related driving offenses. However, you may also access information regarding convictions,
suspensions and violations in a driving record using private
databases that span state and federal sources.
What is a Felony?
Every criminal charge is
classified as either a felony or misdemeanor offense, depending upon
the respective state’s laws regarding the issue. Federal
classifications of felonies and misdemeanors remain the same no
matter where the offense is committed in the country. There are
several differences between the two types of offenses, namely
potential penalties and progression of the criminal case in court.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor
In general, a felony charge
carries the potential of a prison term which lasts more than one
year. Misdemeanors carry possible jail time of one year or less. A
felony may also carry with it the death penalty in cases of murder,
In addition, felonies are
further classified according to their ‘degree.’ Felonies may be
considered a first, second, third, fourth or fifth degree felony,
depending upon the state; some states assign letters to these
varying degrees. Maximum allowable penalties and fines increase with
each degree, and higher degrees may mean longer or more severe
When convicted of a felony,
it usually remains on the individual’s record for anywhere from 7 to
14 years or indefinitely, depending upon the state. Records of state
felonies can also be expunged, but this is not true for federal
felonies. In addition, some states will strip felons of their voting
rights or right to bear arms for a pre-determined amount of time.
Finding Felony Records
Felony records are maintained by the imposing state or federal law
enforcement agency. This obviously differs among states, though
federal records may be requested from the FBI. In order to save time
and effort requesting reports from multiple agencies, a private
search offers access to multiple databases in one location.
What is a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are federal
and/or state criminal charges that are considered less severe than
felony-classified offenses. They may include charges and/or
convictions related to theft, domestic violence, drunk driving,
prostitution, vandalism, drug possession, public intoxications or
Much like felony charges,
misdemeanor offenses are classified as class A, class B or class C.
Each class carries subsequently more severe potential and mandatory
penalties, with class C offenses being the least so. Each state
determines the classification of these misdemeanors, which may vary
across state lines. However, federal misdemeanors remain the same
across the country.
In general, a misdemeanor is
punishable by one year or less in prison and carries lower fines
than a felony charge. Misdemeanors that carry a sentence of 6 months
or less are considered to be “petty.” Repeat offenders typically
receive harsher penalties than first-time offenders, and the place
of incarceration depends upon whether the crime is a state or
Federal and state prisons
typically hold prisoners convicted of felonies, while local county
jails hold those convicted of misdemeanors. A misdemeanor conviction
may also result in fines, probation, loss of privileges such as
professional or driver’s licenses, or any combination of these.
Misdemeanor records are
considered criminal in nature, and may be requested from applicable
state and federal agencies.
In order to access state
criminal records for someone, you need to contact the relative
state’s Department of Corrections. However, these records are not
recognized by states other than the one holding the records, so you
must either conduct a check in every state the subject has lived, or
utilize the services of a private record provider.
What are Mug Shots?
Invented by Allan
Pinkerton in the 19th Century, mug shots are photographs
taken of an arrested individual during the booking process of an
arrest. Typically, the arresting agency takes a front and side photo
to comprise the mug shot file. These mug shots are intended to help
identify the arrested individual in the case that he or she is ever
wanted by the law again in the future, or if their information is to
be posted on a “most wanted” or sex offender list.
Availability of Mug Shots
state differs in its treatment of mug shots and the public’s ability
to access them. Some states will post mug shots of every arrestee on
its website, and others will only post mug shots on Most Wanted or
sex offender lists. The National Sex Offender Public Website at:
However, there has been
some debate as to the accessibility of mug shots to the public. Many
courts have refused to allow mug shots to be entered as evidence in
a jury trial to prevent any implication of guilt. In September of
2009 in a case in Oklahoma, the Department of Justice determined
that mug shots were protected by privacy laws, and thus refused to
release photos of federal inmates to the public. Conversely, the 6th
U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the photos may be released within
that circuit only in 2005.
If you need to find
someone’s mug shots, you may try searching the site of the facility
where they were incarcerated, or utilize private services which will
ensure that multiple databases are searched to provide the most
complete result in minimal time.
What is a Police Report?
In order to conduct a
thorough background check on another person or verify your own past,
police records offer a way to learn about arrests that may not have
resulted in a conviction, traffic stops or parking tickets, and
firearms licenses. Police reports are always created and maintained
at the state level, and are generally available through the local
state police department. Although each state varies according to
accessibility and privacy laws, most offer the ability to search
these records by name to either confirm or deny any history with
local law enforcement.
Information Contained in
Many police departments
offer information regarding the type of offense committed, the
victim’s name, date of the crime and the location. Victims who are
juveniles and victims of sex crimes are not revealed to the public.
Offenses are generally categorized as either crimes against people
or crimes against property, or other crimes such as traffic
If you want to explore
police reports regarding a specific crime, you will find every type
of documentation of the event as possible. This means that
information gained from interviews on the scene, witness
information, observations by the officer on the scene and any other
actions taken when either stopping a driver or responding to a call
are included in police reports. They are generally not accessible by
the public until the court has ruled and the case is considered to
Searching for Police
Police reports are usually
found with the respective state police department, county or city
government, and may be accessible through their official websites.
You may also utilize the services of a private company, saving you
time and effort. These police reports can be invaluable when
determining the safety level of a new city you’re considering
Federal Bank Robbery Defined
Robbery is often defined by state statutes as theft or larceny of
property or money through the use of force or fear. When a deadly
weapon such as a gun or knife is used, charges may be escalated to
armed or aggravated robbery. This crime is distinguished from
burglary because robbery requires that a victim be present and he or
she is threatened with or suffers actual injury or harm. Federal law
outlines potential penalties of robbery and burglary under U.S.
Code, Chapter 103.
Section 2113 specifically addresses bank robbery.
This section describes bank robbery as the attempt to take property
or money by force from any bank, credit union or savings and loan
association. Convictions of bank robbery can lead to fines and/or up
to 20 years in prison according to this section of the U.S. Code.
Actually taking the property or money away, when its value exceeds
$ 1,000, causes fines and/or up to 10 years in prison. If this
property is valued under $ 1,000, the maximum sentence includes fines
and/or up to 1 year in prison.
Even if a person did not actually steal the money or property, but
is simply in possession of it and knows it was stolen faces the same
sentencing. If the use of a dangerous weapon is also used in the
process of stealing the property, the suspect faces fines and/or up
to 25 years in federal prison. If the suspect attempts to avoid
apprehension, causes the death of someone during the theft or forces
someone to accompany him during the crime, he faces fines and/or up
to 10 years in prison; if death of a victim occurs, the suspect
faces a death sentence or life imprisonment.
Section 2113 defines a “bank” as any bank which is a member of the
Federal Reserve System or any bank or institution which is operated
and organized under U.S. law. This includes foreign bank branches
and any institution whose deposits are insured by the Federal
Deposit Insurance Corporation.
It further defines “credit union” as any federal or state-chartered
credit union which is insured by the National Credit Union
Administration Board. A “savings and loan association” refers to a
federal or state savings association with accounts insured by the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, operating under U.S. law.
Historical Bank Robbers
Historically speaking, one of the most noted and celebrated bank
robbers in U.S. history was Jesse James. After the civil war, James
robbed banks with his brother and outlaw gangs, with the height of
their activity peaking between 1866 to 1876. In 1876, they attempted
to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, which resulted in the
capture or death of many of these gang members. Law enforcement
continued to increase pressure and search attempts to find and
apprehend James and his cohorts, until he was killed by Robert Ford
on April 3, 1882.
Federal Codes Regarding Burglary
Burglary is often defined by criminal law as the unlawful entry into
a structure, regardless of whether it is a home, business or other
type of building. At the same time, the intent to commit any crime,
even those other than theft or larceny, must also exist. This does
not mean the intended crime necessarily takes place. For example, a
criminal may intend to break into a business to steal money from a
safe, but finds the money is already taken. Even though the criminal
steals nothing, he has still committed burglary by entering the
Burglary charges may ensue after an individual simply enters an open
door, as he does not need to use force or physical breaking and
entering to be classified as a burglary. Typically, there is no
victim present when burglary is committed. U.S. Code Title 18, Part
I, Chapter 103, Sections 2111-2119 concerns the crimes of both
robbery and burglary.
This section states that when someone takes something of value or
attempts to take it from a person within the special maritime and
territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. using force, intimidation or
violence, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
This section states that when someone robs or attempts to rob
someone of personal property of the U.S., they face a sentence of up
to 15 years.
This section pertains to bank robberies
specifically. It states that anyone who enters a financial
institution protected by federal law with the intent to take
property or money faces up to 20 years of imprisonment. This applies
whether the individual successfully takes the property or not. If he
physically takes possession of money or property valued over $ 1,000,
he faces up to 10 years in prison and/or fines, and if it does not
exceed a value of $ 1,000 the maximum sentence is 1 year in prison
and/or fines. This section also regards individuals knowingly in
possession of stolen property or money from a bank. In some cases,
especially when force with a deadly weapon is used or death occurs,
this crime can carry a life sentence in prison or a death sentence.
This section regards mail, money and other property of the U.S., and
anyone who has lawful custody of that property. Assault with the
intent to rob these individuals carries a sentence of up to 10 years
for the first offense; if the victim is wounded during the assault
or the suspect uses a deadly weapon, this increases to up to 25
years. Being in possession of this property carries an additional
sentence of up to 10 years and/or fines.
This section states that attempting to or forcibly breaking into a
U.S. post office results in fines and/or up to 5 years in prison.
This section, similar to section 2115, regards cars, steamboats or
other vessels utilized by the post office. Sentences can include
fines and/or up to 3 years in prison.
This section states that anyone convicted of breaking the lock
and/or entering a railroad car, aircraft or other vessel with the
intent to commit larceny may be fined and/or sentenced up to 10
years in prison. This section also states that if this crime falls
under state jurisdiction and is judged by a state’s prosecution, the
suspect cannot be prosecuted by the federal government as well.
This section concerns taking controlled substances by force from a
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent. If convicted, this
crime carries a sentence of fines and/or up to 20 years in prison.
This also applies when entering the business or other structure
where this controlled substance is held. If violence is used or
injury occurs during the burglary, prison time can be raised to 25
This section applies to taking motor vehicles which fall under
federal jurisdiction, such as vehicles transporting interstate or
foreign commerce. This crime carries a sentence of fines and/or up
to 15 years in prison; prison time is increased to 25 years maximum
when serious bodily injury occurs during the theft. If death results
from the crime, imprisonment can range up to a life sentence, or the
suspect may face a death sentence.
Types of Criminal Charges
Criminal charges vary widely based on the severity of the crime
committed. The crime committed may fall under the category of a
petty offense, misdemeanor, or felony. According to the type,
severity, and frequency of the crime, the punishment will also vary.
Petty offenses are a group of misdemeanors that don’t warrant jail
time. Usually a person who commits a petty offense will only get a
ticket or a citation.
They will be tried on their first appearance in court and
typically receive a fine.
Petty offenses are much milder than other offenses. The defendant
will probably not receive the right to a jury trial, but this is not
considered a violation of rights because of the nature of the crime.
Petty offenses include minor traffic violations—such as
tickets—parking violations, and infractions of local ordinances
which are not severe.
In states that have adopted the three strikes law that says on the
third felony the person receives mandatory life imprisonment, petty
offenses do not count as “strikes.” It is generally advised to not
fight the petty offense, simply pay the fine and move on.
Misdemeanors are more serious. A person convicted of a misdemeanor
may face a heavy fine, or a jail sentence not exceeding a year. If
the person receives a jail sentence it will be carried out at a
local jail and not a state or federal prison.
Misdemeanors generally do not go the grand jury. They can, however,
be generated by grand jury indictments if they occurred during a
felony. Defendants are not allowed a court-appointed attorney, and
will not be awarded one if they cannot afford one.
Those convicted of a misdemeanor, such as simple assault, are still
allowed to vote, practice licensed professions, serve on a jury, and
serve in the military.
In states that have adopted the three strikes law, a misdemeanor may
be counted as a third “strike” if the person has already been
convicted of two felonies. Otherwise the misdemeanor is not included
in the strike count.
Felonies are more serious still, and they include capital offenses
like first-degree murder. A felony is considered a crime punishable
by more than a year in prison—for example, a year and a day is
punishment for a felony offense, whereas a year is punishment only
Defendants accused of a felony are guaranteed the right to a
court-appointed lawyer in the event they cannot afford one. Felonies
are also charged only upon a grand jury indictment.
In some cases an accidental death caused during the commission of a
felony could be considered murder. If an accidental death occurs
during some lesser crime, such as a DUI or DWI, then it is only
Those convicted of a felony face several restrictions on their
rights. They may be unable to serve on a jury, vote, practice
certain jobs, own guns, and serve in the military. They may also be
forced to register as an offender relating to the felony committed,
such as a sex offender or narcotics offender.
In states that have adopted a three strikes law, on the third felony
committed the individual will be sentenced to a mandatory 25 year to
life imprisonment. This is without the possibility of parole.
Information Contained in Criminal Background Records
Criminal background checks may be performed for a number of reasons.
Frequently, prospective employers and landlords request background
checks, which may include unexpected information.
It is important to know who will request a background check,
and what will be contained in it when it is requested.
What is and isn’t in a criminal background check?
Items included in a background check performed by a prospective
employer can range from driving records and vehicle registration to
court records and sex offender registration. Criminal convictions
and charges will generally show up on an in-depth criminal
background check, whereas arrests will not.
Prospective employers may also request information on medical and
military records, bankruptcy and credit records, education records,
and state licensing. Educational, medical, and military service
records are confidential. They require your permission to be
Things not of public record, such as criminal history, are compiled
by law enforcement agencies and can only be viewed by potential
employers in certain fields. These fields include law enforcement,
security guard firms, public utilities, and childcare facilities.
Arrest records are public records. However, in many states,
employers are not able to search for an arrest record of a potential
employee. Exceptions to this rule include if the arrest resulted in
a conviction or if the potential employee is on trial or out of jail
Any conviction may be viewed on the criminal record unless it has
been expunged from the record. If the record is successfully sealed
or expunged then it cannot be viewed, except by law enforcement and
Other things not included in background checks include bankruptcies
if they are more than ten years old. After seven years, civil suits,
civil judgments, records of arrest, paid tax liens, and accounts
placed for collection are not reported.
Who may want to perform a criminal background check?
A criminal background check may be performed by a potential
employee. An employee may perform these checks to avoid negligent
hiring lawsuits or to follow federal and state laws regarding
required checks for certain jobs. They may also perform checks
because they no longer feel secure. Current events and news often
drive employers to perform checks they might not otherwise have
Landlords may also perform these checks to screen potential renters.
Generally they will perform criminal background checks for reasons
similar to those a potential employer may have.
An individual may also want to check their own criminal background.
The FBI may provide criminal records for an individual requesting
them. They will only provide records to the individual identified in
the records, and fingerprint identification is required.
Others who may feel the need to run a criminal background check may
not be legally able to do so, or only be able to access limited
information. Potential spouses, parents or guardians requiring a
babysitter, and others may desire a background check. Often, the
only way to access any type of criminal background information about
someone other than yourself is to search through public records.
These include arrest records, court records and inmate records held
by the local and state government agencies.
How to Conduct an Arrest Inquiry
If you are considering hiring a new
employee, babysitter or any other individual who will have
access to your personal property, you may want to conduct an
arrest inquiry to screen his or her past. Before you can do so,
you must first understand where you should search for arrest
information, depending upon the type of details you need to
History of Addresses
Prior to searching for past arrest
records, you need to have some information about the person you
are researching. Their first and last name and prior names,
addresses and states of residence over the past several years is
often required to conduct an efficient search. This information
is needed because an arrest inquiry must be submitted to the
arresting agency or locality, as this does not transfer to other
databases. Federal records are searchable from nearly anywhere,
but state-specific arrest records will be maintained with the
corresponding Department of Corrections or police department.
You may also decide to ask the individual
if he or she has an arrest in their past, the charges faced,
dates of arrest and the disposition or outcome of the case.
Having a date of arrest will make your arrest inquiry process
much easier, as this is a common search field used when
obtaining arrest records.
Approaching State and Local Agencies
state Departments of Corrections and even some local
sheriffs’ offices maintain websites that allow the public to
search for arrest information. You can simply search for an
individual by name, arrest date and even the type of charge or
offense committed. However, these records are often only
available electronically for a number of years before they are
archived. In the case that the arrest happened too long ago, you
may need to approach the state’s archives office.
These locally-maintained electronic
records will protect the personal information of the arrestee
such as address, phone number and social security and driver’s
license numbers, but will offer mug shots to confirm identity.
If the charges were sexual in nature, each state maintains its
own sex offender website where registered offender information
is maintained for public display.
Many times, these websites are updated on
a daily basis and will also include all arrests that recently
took place for the most up-to-date information. Furthermore,
additional case information is available through local court
clerk’s offices if you would like to know if the subject of your
search was convicted and/or the outcome of the case.
Federal Arrest Inquiries
Federal offenses are investigated by the
FBI, and suspects are often arrested by the U.S. Marshals Office
for questioning. An FBI Identification Record request may be
submitted by the individual by following the guidelines at
http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm. A fee, cover
letter and fingerprints are required for this search to be
conducted. Furthermore, law enforcement officials may access the
National Crime Information Center at
an arrest inquiry and learn more about a suspect’s criminal
past. However, these federally-maintained records are not
accessible by private parties.
Finding Crime Rate
Information in Your Area
Prior to moving to a new neighborhood or
going on vacation, you may want to learn about the local crime
rate of specific crimes in the area. A crime rate is generally
calculated on an annual basis by local government agencies,
according to the crimes and cases that they investigated. The
federal government also reports national crime rates for various
crimes to the public, which are available at
http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm. These archived crime
rates and statistics include data gathered from across the
country according to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system
Data Included in Crime in the U.S. (CIUS)
CIUS reports are generated on an annual
basis by the federal government. Each time a crime occurs, it is
reported by local and state law enforcement agencies via the UCR
system, which is how the CIUS is created. The public may visit
the CIUS reports and filter results for their own state, region
or local area to determine the crime trends, number of specific
types of crimes and even statistics concerning hate crimes.
Hate crime statistics and the number of
law enforcement officers assaulted or killed are special sets of
data maintained by the government. The Hate Crime Statistics
section separates information by the type of victim, incident or
offense committed, offender information, and location. Many hate
crimes are motivated by race, religion, ethnicity, sexual
orientation and/or disability. Victims may be individuals,
businesses or groups, and these crimes may take place in
residences, schools or even parking lots.
The Law Enforcement Officers Killed and
Assaulted section of the CIUS report includes statistics
regarding officers who are feloniously killed, those who are
accidentally killed and/or assaulted, as well as a dedicated
section for federal officers who are killed and assaulted.
Within the general CIUS statistics
section, offenses committed are categorized as violent crime and
property crime. Clearances, or those offenses which are “closed”
through arrest or some other means, are also provided for public
view. Crime rate information is further provided under
homicides, trends, rates and weapons details. Information is
also provided about arrests and police employees through the
CIUS report. Information gathered about arrestees includes age,
gender, race and offense committed or charged with.
For example, the 2008 arrest rate tables
provided by the CIUS such as
information regarding arrests made in relation to the following
offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter; forcible rape;
robbery; aggravated assault burglary; larceny-theft; motor
vehicle theft; arson as a property or violent crime; other
assaults; forgery and counterfeiting; fraud; embezzlement;
stolen property crimes; vandalism; weapon crimes; prostitution;
sex offenses; drug abuse violations; gambling; domestic
offenses; driving under the influence; liquor offenses;
drunkenness; disorderly conduct; vagrancy and other offenses;
suspicion; curfew and loitering violations; and runaways.
However, the UCR Program does not collect
statistics and information regarding juvenile suspects and/or
offenders. It also does not gather or provide information
regarding the number of individuals who were convicted,
prosecuted and/or imprisoned for a crime.
Creation of Arrest
Information and Records
Arrest information included in arrest
records can vary widely according to the arresting agency’s
requirements and recordkeeping practices. Individuals may search
for arrest information in someone’s past prior to hiring them as
a new employee, or giving them access to their personal property
and/or home. Other reasons for requesting arrest information may
be to confirm your own arrest history or research a potential
spouse’s legitimate past. Attorneys also request this
information when preparing for a criminal defense case,
especially if their client is a repeat offender and he or she
needs information about past case dispositions and defense
Process of an Arrest
When someone is placed under arrest by an
authorized official, they are notified of the criminal charges
they face and read their Miranda Rights if applicable. These
rights are only read if the charges faced can lead to
incarceration if convicted, or if the officer plans on
interrogating the individual.
After handcuffing and taking the
individual into custody, the arrestee is transported to the
local jail or prison to undergo standard booking processes.
These include recording personal information such as address,
phone number, social security and driver’s license numbers,
employment information, fingerprints and mug shots. This arrest
information is recorded in the permanent arrest record, but
identifying information is often redacted and protected from
Charge and Bond Information
After the arrestee is processed, he or
she awaits an arraignment or bail hearing in front of a judge.
This appearance may not occur for days, forcing the individual
to remain in prison until then. At an arraignment hearing, the
formal charges entered against the suspect are read to him or
her, and a plea is formally entered into the court system in
response to these charges.
If the suspect faces misdemeanor charges,
the judge may even release them on their own recognizance and
simply inform him or her of a subsequent court date to appear.
Records from these court proceedings are maintained by the court
clerk’s office, and considered part of the arrest information
that may be searched by the public in the future.
During a bail hearing, the judge will
determine what, if any, the bail amount should be. This amount
is largely dependent upon the suspect’s past criminal history,
the seriousness of the charges he faces, and his flight risk.
For example, a suspect with family ties in another country who
has been charged with drug trafficking will likely either be
denied bail completely or a significant bail amount will be set.
Recent arrest information including the
date of arrest, the arrestee’s name and mug shot, bail amount,
charges faced and disposition of the case is typically found on
the local law enforcement agency’s website. Some localities may
update this information daily, which can be helpful when a loved
one is missing and you suspect he or she may be in custody. You
can also learn about upcoming appearances, hearings and other
court dates concerning that inmate’s case.
How to Conduct an Arrest
When someone you know is missing, it can
be a very stressful ordeal trying to find them. Perhaps they
simply didn’t return home last night, or you suspect they may be
in trouble. It is often difficult to file a missing persons
report with the local police for an adult before they have been
missing for a full 24 to 48 hours. In that case, you can still
check local hospitals or local jails by conducting an arrest
Online Arrest Search Tools
Most local sheriff’s offices offer the
ability to search for arrests made in the past 24 hours through
their website. This may not be true for very small towns, as
electronic means of providing this information may be very
expensive. A few local governments still simply print arrests
made in the paper the following day.
Most of the websites allow you to search
within a specified time period for arrests by first or last
name, city of residence or even type of offense they were
arrested for. As an example, you may look at the Durham County
Sheriff’s Department in North Carolina website at
Here, the dates of confinement and release date are also
provided, if they apply. All charges that the arrestee faces, as
well as any bond amount and whether it has been secured is
listed for each individual. This website simply lists them
alphabetically from the past 24 hours, but other sites may allow
you to search for a specific name or even provide mug shots of
the individuals to confirm identity.
Court, Hearing and Bond Information
If the arrestee you’re interested in is
still incarcerated, you should be able to access information
about any upcoming hearings or bonds that have already been set.
You may be directed to the court’s website to view the schedule
for arraignment and bond hearings, as several arrestees are
presented before the judge for these types of hearings in a
designated daily time slot. This way, you can plan to be present
if you please, or even contact an attorney to represent your
Your arrest search may also show that
your loved one has already attended a bond hearing and a bond
has been set by the judge. In this case, you may contact a bail
bondsman and try to secure funds to have your loved one released
from jail. If bond was denied or not set for any reason, this
may also be listed as the current status of the arrestee.
If you are a victim of a crime committed
by a recent arrestee, you can access the VINE link system
provided by local and state governments across the country. This
system allows you to be notified when the person of interest in
your case is released or any other change to his or her status
changes. You may search the VINE system by facility name,
offender ID number (which is assigned at the time of
processing), name and/or date of birth and age range.
Information in Arrest and
Arrest and jail records are commonly
required when conducting a background check or verifying
information for the courts. Arrest and jail information is
usually maintained by the arresting agency such as a police
department or sheriff’s office, or even the FBI. Jails maintain
information about current and past inmates for a specified
period of time, according to the local and state statutes. Most
jails offer the ability to conduct an inmate search online
through their website.
Arrest and Jail Booking Process
When a suspect is arrested, he or she is
handcuffed and taken to the local jail for holding and
processing. If the criminal charges carry a potential jail
sentence and the arrestee will be questioned by police, their
Miranda Rights must be read. Upon arriving at the jail, mug
shots are taken, as well as personal information such as social
security and driver’s license numbers, home address and phone
number. If the charges are related to drunk driving, the
offender’s vehicle will also be towed and impounded at the local
Depending upon the charges faced by the
arrestee, an appearance before a judge may be necessary after
the arrest and jail booking. This arraignment and/or bail
hearing will take place before a judge who will officially read
the charges faced, and ask the defendant how he or she pleads.
If a bail amount is determined, this will be finalized and
entered into the record. Otherwise, a future court date will be
set and the defendant is generally released on his or her own
Public Information in Arrest and Jail
Depending upon the offense, some
localities will offer the ability to search for arrest and jail
records through specialized online sites. For example, many
states have active sex offender sites that allow the public to
view mug shots, incarceration and probation sentences, and the
specific charges the offender was convicted of. Others will also
provide the registered offender’s home address and even place of
Recent arrests are often easily searched
through the jail website, by name, date or offense. However,
some local governments may only offer this information for
convicted individuals who are currently serving a jail sentence.
In this case, inmates may be searched by name or inmate number.
Results will often show you the bond amount that has been set by
the judge, the formal charges against the defendant, visitation
schedules, expected release date if known or future court dates,
disposition of the case, and descriptive and personal
information such as height, weight, hair and eye color, sex and
date of birth.
If you know someone who was arrested and
booked at the local jail, you may also fund his or her
commissary account to purchase needed items or learn how and
when you may visit them. If you are searching for arrest and
jail records, you must become familiar with local laws; some
states may not allow arrest information to be public unless the
individual was convicted and/or served time at the local jail.
Understanding Laws Regarding
a Citizen's Arrest
A citizen’s arrest is an arrest made by
an individual who does not possess law enforcement credentials.
Each state’s laws vary according to who may make a citizen’s
arrest and under what conditions, but most often it may be made
by any person in order to prevent a crime or apprehend someone
suspected of committing a crime. Currently, North Carolina does
not allow citizens arrests.
Requirements to Make a Citizen’s
Some states allow civilians such as
illegal aliens or immigrants to make a citizen’s arrest, as well
as groups of people rather than individuals. An example of a
citizen’s arrest is when a department store catches someone
shoplifting and detains them while waiting for an officer of the
Citizen’s arrests originated as part of
the English common law, before structured law enforcement
departments existed. Most states now allow them to be made when
someone commits a criminal felony that is witnessed by a
civilian. However, the laws vary according to when a citizen’s
arrest may be made in cases of misdemeanors or crimes not
witnessed by the arresting individual. Some states may allow a
citizen’s arrest in any of the above stated cases, while others
may only allow them in the case of felony crimes or those
committed in the arresting individual’s presence.
How to Make a Citizen’s Arrest
Each state also differs according to
requirements for how to carry out a citizen’s arrest. Common
requirements and guidelines do include that the arresting party
should inform the individual why he or she is being arrested.
The civilian making the arrest may also use a reasonable amount
of force to enter the individual’s private residence if needed.
Following detaining the individual, the arresting civilian must
bring him or her to the appropriate law enforcement agency
without significant delay. These citizen’s arrest laws are often
how bounty hunters operate and detain fugitives of the law.
Problems Associated with a Citizen’s
Though citizen’s arrests are legal and
allowed throughout the country, significant penalties may be
faced if local and state laws regarding them are not followed.
If a citizen’s arrest is made in the wrong way or rights of the
arrested individual are violated, the arresting civilian may
face civil and even criminal charges in the future.
Civilians are well-advised to become
familiar with the local and state laws regarding citizen’s
arrest before attempting them. Vital details to learn include in
what situations they may be carried out, how they must be
carried out, and details about the information that must be
relayed to the arrestee and how they must be turned over to the
It is also important to be well aware of
your rights if you are placed under citizen’s arrest. Use of
unnecessary force or detaining you for a crime which does not
allow a civilian to arrest you are all reasons to pursue a civil
or criminal suit against that person. Thus, carrying out a
citizen’s arrest can be risky and laden with legal implications.
Reasons for Issuing an Arrest
When law enforcement officials want
someone in custody in connection with a crime or a judge needs
to force someone to appear in court, an arrest warrant is
commonly issued in their name. Arrest warrants allow officials
to arrest someone without risk of legal recourse in the future
for taking the person into custody. As long as an arrest warrant
is not served, it is considered “outstanding.” If the arrest
warrant is issued due to someone being suspected for a violent
crime such as murder or rape, law enforcement may attempt to
serve the warrant by raiding the suspect’s home or approaching
his or her loved ones’ residences.
Reasons for Issuing an Arrest Warrant
Arrest warrants are often issued for
three main reasons: failure to appear in court, failure to meet
obligations of a criminal sentence such as violating parole
requirements, or being named suspect in a crime. Often, when an
arrest warrant is issued in someone’s name, the authorities will
send a letter advising the individual of such an action taking
place. However, sometimes you may not be aware of an arrest
warrant in your name until you are advised of its existence
during a routine traffic stop.
Failure to appear in court is often
considered contempt of court, and the judge will issue a bench
warrant, which is a type of arrest warrant, in the person’s name
to bring him or her before the bench. Violations of parole such
as failing to attend meetings, classes or leaving the country
may lead to the issuance of an arrest warrant, but state
statutes will vary on this requirement. More often, an ongoing
investigation will lead to one or more suspects being named due
to evidence recovered or tips from witnesses and the public.
When this happens, the investigators and police must have an
arrest warrant issued and signed by a judge before serving it
and taking the person into custody. However, some states may
allow the suspect to be arrested without a valid warrant,
provided enough evidence is collected by investigators first.
Searching for an Arrest Warrant
Arrest warrants are maintained and filed
by the court and corrections systems, and often you may simply
search for outstanding warrants through government offices. You
may search by providing your name or social security number
(though this information is protected from public view), but
they are not available to the public. Quite often, you may only
search for arrest warrants in your own name.
These arrest warrants do translate across
state lines, however, and are also searchable by the FBI and
other federal agents. For instance, if an arrest warrant is
issued in your name in Montana but you move to New York,
officials may search for your name and identification and find
the outstanding warrant. This allows them to arrest and
extradite you to Montana in order to answer to the arrest
warrant. This may happen during a routine traffic stop, when the
officer requests your identification, or while applying for
official local documents, employment or identification issued by
Requesting Arrest Records
from Local Police
Each state is charged with maintaining
its own laws and regulations concerning the information
available to the public and that which is kept private in arrest
records. Arrest records are one of the most commonly sought
after pieces of information as part of police records. These may
be maintained by the state police department, the county sheriff
or even the U.S. Marshalls’ office if the person was in the
custody of the federal government.
Keep in mind that just because arrest
records exist, this does not mean that the arrestee is guilty of
the crime. His or her guilt or innocence will be decided in the
future by the courts. However, you may still be able to access
information which tells you why a person was arrested and what
charges he or she faced. For example, a potential employee may
be arrested under suspicion of drunk driving, but have the
charges later dropped due to dysfunctional testing equipment
used by the arresting officer.
Following the Paper Trail
After contacting the relevant police or
other law enforcement office in search of arrest records, you
may be directed to the local county clerk’s office if quite some
time has passed since an arrest. Your state or local government
may even allow you to search the records online. Within arrest
records, you should find the type of charge, whether it was a
felony or misdemeanor, physical descriptions of the arrestee and
possibly even a mug shot. Other information found in an arrest
report includes the place of birth, court dates and disposition.
These details will lead you to the correct court in order to
research the course of the case, pleas entered, judgments and
Requesting Arrest Records
If you visit the site
you’ll find the Department of Corrections for your state to
begin your arrest record and report search. However, federal
inmate and arrestee information is held with the federal
government. For these records, you’ll need to visit the Bureau
of Prisons’ page at
http://www.bop.gov/inmate_locator/index.jsp, where you can
utilize their free inmate locator. These records are maintained
for federal inmates from 1982 onward. You can also request a
copy of a federal RAP (Record of Arrest and Prosecution) sheet
from the FBI at
Utilizing Police Records
Although personal identifying information
and that of any minor offender is protected by privacy laws,
police records which include arrest reports offer the ability to
research anyone’s past and character. One thing which you must
keep in mind is that each state maintains its own arrest
records, and they do not carry over to other state governments.
This means that you must look for police records within the
states where they were created, or else risk missing them
altogether. This is not true for federal records, of course.
Requesting these police records for
potential employees, tenants and even spouses can prove
beneficial before trusting someone new. Inquiring about your own
state’s laws regarding releasing this information and
approaching the correct agency will greatly reduce the time and
energy required to obtain the correct police arrest records.
Researching FBI Arrest
Each time an arrest takes place, a
permanent record is created and maintained by the arresting
agency and government exercising jurisdiction over the
subsequent criminal case against the arrestee. Researching
someone’s arrest history may be necessary when conducting
pre-employment checks, professional school applications or even
considering marrying someone.
An arrest history is often found with
local and state law enforcement agencies, but these records do
not translate across state lines. However, federal and national
arrest histories do. Thus, a search through the FBI’s database
is often the first method used when conducting a background
check searching for arrest history information. Searching FBI
records may also be necessary to provide your own record for
international adoption purposes or living and/or working in
FBI Identification Records
Each time the FBI arrests an individual,
a Criminal History Record (a.k.a. “Rap sheet”) is created. These
records are commonly called “FBI Identification Records,” and
include fingerprints, the agency responsible for arresting the
individual, arrest date, arrest charges and disposition of the
case if available. However, FBI Identification Records are not
only created due to an arrest; they may also be created when
someone is employed by the federal government, serving in the
military or pursuing naturalization through the U.S. government.
Individuals are able to request their own
FBI records to verify the information is true and correct and to
challenge any information which is not. These requests are
processed by the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS)
Division, and may only be submitted by the individuals
Requesting Your FBI Arrest History
Complete instructions for requesting an
FBI Identification Record is available at
http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm. Each request must
be accompanied by a signed cover letter including the mailing
address, telephone number, email address of the individual and
any other parties included in the record. A fingerprint card
with all 10 fingerprints must be included; these prints should
be taken by a technician, often available at your local police
station or sheriff’s office. Finally, $18 for each person paid
via a credit card, money order or certified check to the
Treasury of the United States must be included. These items must
be sent to the FBI CJIS Division – Record Request, 1000 Custer
Hollow Road, Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306, and 13 weeks
should be allowed for processing.
If no arrest history or record exists,
you will receive a letter stating that no record was found. If a
record does exist, you will receive it in the mail. As of 2009,
in order to protect personal identifying information,
fingerprint cards will not be returned to the requestor.
The data included in the FBI
Identification Record is gathered from a variety of local, state
and federal law enforcement and other agencies, so any
inconsistencies or incorrect information must be disputed with
the reporting agency. Each agency has its own procedures in
place to dispute this information, and the FBI cannot change the
information in the record until appropriate notification from
the respective agency is received.
Searching County Arrest
County arrest information is often
maintained and made accessible by the local sheriff’s department
and/or courthouse. Many county governments now offer county
arrest information online through the sheriff’s office website,
such as that of Broward County, Florida at
Information about County Arrest Online
Many times, these local websites offer
county arrest information from arrests made in the past 24 to 48
hours, as well as inmate information for incarcerated
individuals. Most of these law enforcement agencies will provide
arrest information such as the name of the individual, offense
he or she is charged with, and current disposition of the case.
If an upcoming court date or time is set, this may also be
available, as well as bond information for cases which have been
granted bail already by a judge.
One of the most popular reasons for using
the county arrest site is to fund commissary accounts for a
current inmate, or even learn about visitation policies. If you
are an attorney representing an inmate, you may visit him or her
at any time, but family members and other general visitors must
visit during a prescribed time. This time may be specific to the
inmate you are interested in visiting, as perhaps the local jail
provides visitation time slots, or it may be the same day and
time for every inmate.
Commissary accounts are used by inmates
to purchase non-necessities such as snacks, hairbrushes and
other items from the jail. Many loved ones often provide regular
funding to these accounts so inmates can enjoy the use of
preferred personal care items without the jail and local
government paying for them, which is generally preferred by
Once a bond amount has been set, you may
also use these sites to provide payment and learn how to
retrieve your loved one upon release. Most parties choose to pay
this bond via wired funds, cashier’s check or by using a local
Processing a County Arrest
Regardless of where the arrest actually
takes place, most localities will put an arrestee through the
same general processing. Upon taking someone into custody and
transporting them to the local jail, the first thing that
happens is the jail takes their personal property such as
identification, wallet, keys, phone and jewelry.
Next, a general screening of the
arrestee’s health will take place to determine if medications or
substances such as insulin are needed for a diabetic, for
example. Officials then take and record fingerprints to be
entered into a national database, and mug shots are taken.
Officers will also conduct a check for outstanding arrest
warrants to determine if additional charges should be entered
against the individual prior to appearing in court.
Records of County Arrest
In order to request a copy of your county
arrest, you may approach the local sheriff’s office, or request
your complete arrest and criminal records from the FBI. This is
suggested in order to ensure accuracy of your records, as these
identification records are compiled from state and local law
enforcement agencies from across the country. In order to learn
how to order a copy of your FBI Identification Records, visit