How Do I Access Arrest Information?

Kathy Heydasch

All arrest information is a matter of public record, so it is up to the party wishing to know the information to approach the agency under whose jurisdiction the arrest was made. There are also online search engines that will pull up arrest information for free or for a small fee. Multiple law enforcement agencies have the power to arrest, but all need an arrest warrant issued by a judge to be in compliance with the law. The only exception is a citizen’s arrest, in which a person witnesses a felony or other crime and attempts to detain a person until the proper authorities can subdue the potential criminal.

Arrest information is a public record accessible from the arresting agency.
Arrest information is a public record accessible from the arresting agency.

Arrest information is public information and is accessible by contacting the law enforcement agency directly, typically through a records department. A request can be made in person or in writing, especially if notarized. This request is then fulfilled and the information is released. There may be a small fee for making copies, but typically this service is free to the public.

Most arrest information was guaranteed under an act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.
Most arrest information was guaranteed under an act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

There are also online search engines that can provide detailed information about a person’s life, including date of birth and other demographic information. Some of this is arrest information that details if a person was arrested, if an arrest warrant is outstanding for a person, and how many times a person has been arrested and for what crimes. This is helpful when performing a background check.

Most arrest information is available to the public unless it is classified.
Most arrest information is available to the public unless it is classified.

The Freedom of Information Act, signed into law in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson, guarantees the release of arrest information with a few exceptions. The law applies only to executive branches of government, and there are nine exceptions to the law which protect highly-sensitive or classified information from being released. This law was designed to appease the population which demanded to know more about its federal government’s actions. Information is processed and released through requests by citizens.

Arrest reports are typically available within 24 hours after a person's arrest.
Arrest reports are typically available within 24 hours after a person's arrest.

Police departments, sheriff’s departments, state highway patrol officers, and branches of the federal government all have the power to arrest a person for a criminal act. They must first approach a judge, however, and get him or her to issue an arrest warrant for the person accused of a crime. Then the person can be picked up and arrested under suspicion of committing a crime. Arrests and arrest warrants are both items of public arrest information, so one needs only to contact the agencies to access the information.

The Freedom of Information Act is intended to make government agency information available to all.
The Freedom of Information Act is intended to make government agency information available to all.

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Discussion Comments

anon1002924

Forget flight risk. No one moves states really for warrants. How do you expect someone to take care of any warrants if they don't know they are in the warrant. Sounds to me like the state tries to get your money instead of allowing you to know and take care of any warrants so you can keep your job and not have to pay more money, hence why the warrant is there to begin with.

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