Arrests are not as uncommon as you may think. Did they pick up your brother for something on his road trip? You could have a cousin with a DUI that they had to spend the night in jail for. It’s always possible that a new person you’re meeting has been arrested in the past. However, it’s not something that’s likely to come up in polite conversation. A person will usually not disclose the fact the Unlike a business, you can’t just call up the police station and ask to see someone’s criminal history. However, one could look up someone’s arrest record if you knew what channels to go through. A criminal records search can be as simple as typing a name into a search bar. We’ll discuss what terminology you should know, and where to search to know how to find out if someone was arrested.
Have The Right Information
With all the governmental red tape, it’s easy to mix up someone’s records with another person’s. This is especially true if they have a common name. You’ll want to have accurate information about the person whose records you’re searching for. Just basic information will suffice, but the more information the better. This is what you typically need for a criminal records check:
- Legal First and Last Name
- Date Of Birth
- Physical Description: Eye Color, Hair Color, Race, Height, Weight
Know Your Terminology
Law enforcement has different departments that function in different capacities. Someone who was arrested last night is not in the same place as someone convicted of a crime years ago and is serving out a sentence. We’ll discuss basic terminology you should know.
Jail vs. Prison
interchangeably although they refer to two very different places.
- Jail – County jails are where recent arrests are taken. Jail inmates are those awaiting arraignment or trial date, or those serving sentences for low level crimes. Housing lasts one year or less.
- Prison – Prisons are for long term inmates with sentences over one year long. These inmates have already been convicted and are serving out their court-appointed sentences. Prisons can be county, state, or federal level.
Sheriff vs. Police Department
The main difference between the two is jurisdiction. Both perform basic law enforcement tasks like patrolling highways, investigating crimes, and performing arrests. Sheriff’s departments tend to cover larger jurisdictional areas. However, police departments are usually larger in size, and are usually the ones who respond to calls. County Sheriff’s deputies run local jails and are more involved with the courts.
- Sheriff’s Department: Maintains county jail, handles prisoner transportation, works with court system, and issues warrants on the County or State level.
- Police Department: Their main duty is crime prevention by patrolling, issuing tickets, and testifying against criminals. Most likely to respond to a 911 call. They may have city, county, state, or federal level authority.
Are You Trying To Find A Current Prisoner?
If you’re looking for a friend or family member who was convicted some time ago, and is currently serving their sentence, they should be easy to find. If you’ve already gathered the information you need, you can simply use an inmate locater to find that person. The Bureau of Prisons maintains a database with nearly all prisoners incarcerated from 1983 and beyond.
Running A Criminal Background Check
You only need access to public records that apply if the person you’re investigating was in fact arrested, and spent time in a court of law, . While anyone has the right to view them, sitting in a courthouse going through miles of records is the last thing you want to do. The easiest way to find out if someone has ever been arrested is to enter their name into a criminal record search toolbar, and wait for the results. Be sure to double check that you’ve entered accurate information in your search to ensure it yields accurate results.
What Will I Find?
- Arrest Records
- Pending Cases
- Prison Terms
Do I Need Permission Before I Search?
You do not need permission to run a background search on someone in most situations. The information you’re looking for is available to the public. You’re not breaking any laws by looking them up. However, the reason why you’re conducting your search can affect legality. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you must get permission from the person if you’re screening them for employment or as a potential tenant. In that case, you must use a reputable consumer reporting agency to get the results you need.
It’s sad to say, but not everyone is honest about who they are. Finding out if someone has been arrested in the past can help you understand more about a particular person, and whether or not you should continue to do business with that individual. Remember that the more accurate information you have to work with, the more accurate your results are going to be. Unless you’re screening a person for employment or residency on your property, you have every right to look up information that’s made available to the public. Learn the facts about someone before you choose to get involved. Whether it’s a potential online date, or your child’s new soccer coach, learning someone’s criminal history will make your better informed about dealing with that particular person.