How to Find a Federal Bureau Inmates' Arrest Record

By Aaron Gifford ; Updated June 13, 2017
Handcuffs laying on top of fingerprint chart in file

Getting a federal inmate's arrest record or rap sheet is relatively complex and may involve legwork including a visit to the U.S. District criminal court. Criminal records and files maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation are not released to the public. It's rare, but there are some federal inmates who were previously convicted of state felonies, not federal ones, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. In those cases, records of their crimes and conviction would not exist in a federal court file.

Locate the Inmate

Inmates who are incarcerated under the Federal Bureau of Prisons are usually convicted of a federal offense or crimes that involved multiple states or countries. Verify that the person you are researching is a federal inmate by using the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator, which is available online (http://www.bop.gov/inmate_locator/inmate_differences.jsp) or by telephone. The locator notes the inmate's age, race, identifier number, their release date and which facility where they are located. It does not, however, indicate the charge the inmate was convicted of, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Visit the District Criminal Court

Visit the closest U.S. District criminal court to get information on the inmate's criminal case that preceded their conviction. All federal courts share a data base (PACER) that is accessible to the public at the court clerk's office or online, though you are required to register and make arrangements for purchasing copies of documents before you can begin accessing that data base remotely. Once registered, you an search the court file for a criminal complaint or affidavits detailing the defendant's crime and arrest. The file should also have records of every court proceeding, including a verdict or guilty plea, and the sentencing. Documents filed by prosecutors may note whether the defendant had previous criminal convictions or arrests.

Visit Police Departments

Contact your state office that oversees police departments and inquire about criminal record searches. Some states, like New York, allow you to obtain your own criminal record but not someone else's. The regulations vary by state. You an also try visiting other police departments and courts that serve the area where the federal inmate previously resided or did business and ask if they have any records of the person's arrest.

About the Author

Aaron Gifford is based in New York. He has been on staff at the "Syracuse Post-Standard," the "Watertown Daily Times" and the "Oneida Daily Dispatch." He's also written for "Long Island Newsday," "Empire State Report" magazine and "In Good Health." He has been writing professionally since 1995. Gifford holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University at Buffalo.