Where To Find Recent Arrests

Written by Laura Sands and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

To determine where to find recent arrests, start on a local police department’s website. Other law enforcement agencies may also be useful, but choosing one largely depends on the level of crime a person has been arrested for. In some cases, it may be necessary to make a phone call or an in-person visit to a government office to obtain recent arrest details. In many jurisdictions, however, the same basic information is made available to the public online and free of charge.

Who is Interested in Recent Arrests?

Knowing where to find recent arrests can save time when looking for a loved one. Once a person has been taken into custody, they will need to go through a formal booking process. Still, knowing where to find recent arrests can be incredibly helpful for family members and friends who wish to offer fast bail assistance if the option is there.

Personal relations are not the only reason a person may want to know where to find arrests, however. Individuals who live in an area or who are considering moving to a certain area may also have an interest in finding out who has been arrested in their city or town and why. 

Can Anyone See Recent Arrests?

All arrests are considered public information. Exceptions do apply, however, in that sealed records or arrests related to crimes threatening national security may not be readily available to the public. Those who work in law enforcement or are officers of the court are granted access to recent arrest information, even for individuals who have sealed records. Others, who have secured a warrant allowing access to these records, may also view sealed arrests.

Where to Look For Recent Arrests

If an arrest is very recent, it may not yet appear at the time of an initial search. Some jurisdictions are swift in updating this information, while others may take a while longer. Updates may take up to several hours depending on the reporting systems being used.

In addition to a local police department, recent arrests involving felony crimes may also appear on county or state websites. For people arrested for federal crimes, this information may appear on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Other Ways to Find People in Custody

Communication Management Units

Inmates suspected of crimes involving the nation’s security may be held at a Communication Management Unit (CMUs). These specialized prisons house inmates who are not able to communicate with people outside of prison or other inmates. 

Among other purposes, such strict monitoring is often an attempt to prevent further crimes, determine possible accomplices who may not yet be in custody, and gather information about the alleged crime. When seeking where to find recent arrests, it may be more difficult to find arrest information involving a person held in custody at a CMU. While most CMU inmate information is available to the public, some may be kept private for security reasons. If information is not readily available, it may be necessary to contact an attorney or other officer of the court to determine if an arrest has been made and, if so, where the inmate is being housed.

Bail Bondsmen

A bail bondsperson may also know where to find arrests. People in this line of work often employ the help of private investigators and others who have inroads to information on arrests and custody matters. Most people will only hire a bail bondsperson when they know for sure that a person has been arrested and that a judge has set a bail amount for their release. If special circumstances exist and one is finding difficulty determining if an arrest has been made and where a person is being held, a bondsperson may be of valuable assistance.

Phone Calls or In-Person Visits

Phone calls or an in-person visit to a police department can also offer information on recent arrests. While information pertaining to arrests and releases are often available on local law enforcement websites, processing and publishing such information may take time. For those who do not want to conduct an internet search, a phone call or a personal visit will provide the same results. This will especially be necessary for arrests made in jurisdictions who do not offer access to this information on a public website.

Useful Search Tips

For those looking for a specific individual who may have been arrested, being prepared with the following information will help:

  • The arrestee’s full name
  • The arrestee’s date of birth
  • The arrestee’s sex and gender
  • The arrestee’s race

If an exact date of birth is unknown, some websites will allow the search of a person’s approximate age. For example, if a person is approximately 40 years old, a system may process a search for people between the ages of 38 and 42 years old with the matching identifiers listed above. When this type of search is allowed, be aware that results may return multiple inmates with matching names within the same age range.

Often, a person arrested for a misdemeanor crime will be released within hours after they have been booked into a jail. Known as a “cite and release,” this is common for people arrested for crimes like driving under the influence of alcohol or public drunkenness. In these instances, people are given a citation and trusted to appear in court to formally address the charges against them. When trying to locate a person given a cite and release (sometimes referred to simply as a “cite release”), it is helpful to also search for people recently released. If such a search is not readily available on the web, a phone call to the police department or local jail will be necessary.

How Much Does it Cost?

While researching where to find recent arrests online, people will inevitably stumble upon websites that charge for such a service. It bears repeating, then, that recent arrest information is offered to the public for free. When finding difficulty accessing recent arrest information or when one simply does not want to take the time to do so independently, a paid service may come in handy.

It should also be noted that the sealed records of minors and others who have had their records expunged are only accessible to law enforcement and other specific officers of the court. Steer clear of anyone selling access to sealed records, as doing so is illegal. If you are intent in knowing the arrest details involving someone who has a sealed record, contact an attorney to inquire about the process involved in requesting a court order to view sealed information. If an attorney agrees to help, she or he will negotiate a fee for doing so.

Key Things to Remember

While knowing exactly where to find recent arrests is undoubtedly helpful, it should be noted that an arrest does not necessarily mean that a person is guilty of a crime. Many who are taken into custody are later released due to a lack of evidence or a variety of other reasons leading police to believe they are not guilty of any crime whatsoever. While just about all recent arrests may be found in a search, some will never lead to an actual conviction. It is important to keep this in mind when trying to assess someone’s character or even when seeking to determine information about crimes committed in a particular area.

Friends, family members, and concerned citizens should know where to find recent arrests as quickly and easily as possible. In general, local, state, and federal agencies make looking for free arrest records pretty easy to do online. Knowing where to find recent arrests can also prove useful to those who are concerned about their neighborhood’s safety. For additional questions about where to find recent arrests, contact your local law enforcement agency or a qualified attorney.

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