How to Find a Police Report About Previous Convictions

By Rita Radostitz

Criminal records are generally kept only in the jurisdiction where the crime and conviction occurred. First you will need to get a copy of your criminal record with a list of all previous convictions, and then you will be able to request a copy of the police report about each of the convictions. Criminal records can be held by city, state or federal authorities. To have a complete record of all previous convictions, you should first request a criminal record or "rap sheet" from your local police department (or any city where you have lived and been arrested) and then also obtain a copy of the State and Federal records of prior convictions.

Contact your local police department. Usually, you will need to go in person to make a request for a copy of your police record by filling out a form and paying a nominal fee (generally less than $20.00.) You will also have to provide photo identification because most jurisdictions only allow you to obtain a copy of your own police record of prior convictions.

If you find the conviction you are looking for, you can then make a request for a copy of the police report about that conviction. Most police departments have a fee for a request of the police report, and you may not be able to get a copy of the report if the case is still pending.

If you have arrests in cities other than where you are living, you should obtain a complete state criminal record report. This will list any arrests and convictions for crimes in the state. You can obtain a copy of your criminal or arrest record by contacting the office of the State Attorney General or Department of Justice for each state where you have lived. Once you obtain the report(s) of prior convictions, you can request a copy of the police report from the jurisdiction where the crime and arrest happened.

If you have been arrested for a federal offense, you need to obtain a copy of your federal criminal record. You can do so by following the instructions on the FBI website, as listed in the "References" section of this article. You will need to write a cover letter, submit a fingerprint form and a send a certified check or money order for $18 to obtain a copy of your federal criminal record.

Once you have determined whether you have a federal conviction, you can request a copy of the police report from the FBI. You will only be able to do so if the conviction is final (no appeals are still pending.)

About the Author

Rita Radostitz lives in Eugene, Oregon. She has written about human rights, health & fitness and interesting people for years. Her articles have appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Oregon Quarterly and on various websites. Radostitz holds a Masters of Science in journalism with distinction from the University of Oregon and a law degree cum laude from Villanova University.