Looking Up Free Arrest Records

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Arrests records are usually matters of public record, which means that unless the records have been sealed or expunged, the general public has access to them. A variety of instances might arise in which people want to look up other people’s records. Although there are a variety of online services that charge individuals to complete such actions, there are ways to look up people’s arrest records for free by following the appropriate channels.

State and County Websites

Some states and local counties’ websites have search features on them that allow people to search for a person’s arrest record within that state or county. Such services are usually free to use and merely require that the searcher input the subject’s name, date of birth and ethnicity. Obviously, the more information that a searcher has on a subject, the more likely that the search results will return the right individual. Some states’ corrections websites will contain everything that an individual has been charged with in all states. However, for this type of information, some states require a processing fee.

County Courthouses

Some smaller counties don’t have search features on their websites, which means that people who want to obtain the arrest records of other individuals free of charge might have to visit the courthouses and look up the information themselves. Although this process might require time and effort, it is one way to ensure that the information is obtained directly from the source and that it is free.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a website that allows people to input other individuals’ names to determine whether the individuals have ever been to prison, are currently in prison or are on parole and so on. People may search this website with the subject’s names, federal identification numbers or Social Security numbers. The accuracy of the results depends upon how much information is known about the subject, however, and all states and counties might not have their information updated in the federal database. The federal database only contains the information that local states and counties submit to it.

Of course, for a quicker solution, individuals can always pay a fee to conduct a background check on someone. Such services are abundant online. Many states also offer background checks on individuals for a fee. Getting a background check on a individual through a government agency is more likely to offer more thorough results.

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