Knowing how to find recent arrest records can be an important safety tool if you’re looking to learn more about someone in your life — whether that’s a family member, a new friend, or someone you’re going on a date with.
People also should know how to find arrest records in case someone in their life goes missing, is arrested but you don’t know why, or if you are a victim of a crime and the perpetrator was arrested.
In most cases, it is possible to find out if someone has been recently arrested and what they were arrested for, but keep in mind that every jurisdiction (state, county, and even cities) in the US has its own laws and policies regarding public record access, including availability, how often data is updated in online systems, and cost.
The process of finding arrest records can be confusing and unfortunately, there are a lot of scam sites out there that falsely advertise free arrest record searches or access to information that isn’t actually available,.
So we’re going to break down everything you need to know, including answers to the most frequently asked questions and suggestions for where to find arrest records so that you find the information you need safely and securely.
Disclaimer: An arrest record is not a conviction. Just because someone was arrested for a crime, does not mean they are guilty of committing this crime.
An arrest record is a file containing details of an incident that led to someone’s arrest. The arrest data available will vary depending on its source, but you can usually expect to find the offender name’s, the relevant criminal charges, the date of the arrest (may also be referred to as a booking date), and the county or jurisdiction where it occurred. A mugshot may be included as well if one was taken.
Arrest records are maintained by the local police department (whereas court records including convictions are maintained by courthouses).
In most jurisdictions in the United States, arrest records are considered public information, but some states have much stricter access rules than others, so we recommend looking into the specific state laws applicable to your search.
There are records that may only be available to law enforcement agencies or other government agencies, such as sealed records or arrest records that exist in relation to crimes that have threatened national security.
Some states also allow for individuals to expunge or clear their public arrest records, especially in the case of misdemeanors and lower-level offenses. If a record has been expunged or sealed, it will no longer be available for the general public to see.
Public record laws in your state or county may also differ for minors.
There are several options when it comes to finding recent arrests. Most of these options are online, which is convenient, but again, each jurisdiction has different laws. Some are quite old school and may still require an in-person visit to a county sheriff’s office or a formal mailed in records request. Here’s a few different ways to find recent arrests:
Important note: It isn’t uncommon for recent arrests to not be available at the moment of the search, and certain jurisdictions may take a longer amount of time to update arrest information. If you are looking for someone or need to know this information quickly, we recommend calling the police stations directly.
Some sites will only require a full name, while others may ask for much more information to complete a search.
In order to make your arrest search as fast and easy as possible, it is best to have the arrested person’s full name and their date of birth.
If you have very limited information about an individual, you may be better off using a background check site, like Garbo, as these services typically ask for less information than a government site would to conduct a search. For example: most Garbo searches work with a first name and phone number.
Generally speaking, it should be 100% free to find recent arrest records if you are using a government website or calling a local police department or county sheriff’s office.
However, if you’re looking to do a statewide search or find older arrest records, you will likely have to pay. The fees to obtain someone’s criminal history record vary state by state, and there’s quite a range. For example, to obtain a criminal history record in Florida, you’d have to use this site, which is run by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Division of Criminal Justice Information Services and charges a fee of $24. Compare this to a New York statewide criminal background check, which will cost you $95. Like we said—it varies.
If you need a less expensive option and it’s a non-emergency, Garbo charges a small fee starting at $2.50 per search credit plus a transaction fee.
Remember - please use your local resources to find the most recent arrest records and Garbo as a supplement resource.
Knowing how to use open, public information to find arrest records and court records can be a powerful safety tool. Spend some time learning the public record laws where you live and rely on free, local government resources when possible, and you should be able to find the information you need.
NOTE: Public record data, including records available within Garbo, may have limited, missing, or incorrect information within them. Please always use caution when using any public record system, including a government website and understand local and federal guidelines for accessing this type of information.