How to Search Arrest Records Online

If you are looking for your own arrest record or for someone else's, you can request the details of the arrest and possible incarceration online or by mail. There are free police arrest records online, but some agencies may require a fee. Giving law enforcement sufficient information about the person under arrest will help narrow your search.

How to Search for Arrest Records

Arrests on the city, county and state level are usually a matter of public record and can be found easily by contacting the police or sheriff's department where the arrest occurred. To do this, you'll need to have some information on hand, including the person's name, the date of the arrest, specifics about the incident if you have them and your contact information. Make sure all the information you present is correct to the best of your knowledge so you don't end up with the wrong arrest record.

In most cases, you'll be able to request arrest records online. However, certain smaller counties, city and towns may require that you show up in person or submit a written request by mail. There may also be additional fees for obtaining the arrest record, depending on where it occurred.

How to Search FBI Arrest Records

You can request federal arrest records about yourself, but if you're looking for arrest records for another person, you'll need that person's written consent to get them. Submit the request along with a completed U.S. Department of Justice Certification of Identity form, also known as Form DOJ-361. Fill out the section "Authorization to Release Information to Another Person," as well as providing additional information for locating the desired record.

Remember to add your personal information, so the record you requested comes back to you. Submit the identity form, the request letter, if the arrested person is alive, and any additional information to the FBI via the address or fax number listed at FBI.gov "Requesting FBI Records."

If you're looking for the arrest record of a deceased person, you'll need to provide proof of death, as well as the identity form. Examples of sources for proof of death are:

  • Obituaries.
  • Death certificate.
  • Written media reports.
  • Information regarding a person 100 years old or older.
  • Information from the Social Security Death Index.

To obtain your own arrest record any time of the day or week, submit the request using the FBI's eFOIPA submission portal. Select Paper FOIPA or Electronic FOIPA on the FBI.gov homepage. Should you choose the paper option, all your correspondence will occur with the FBI via the U.S. mail.

How to Locate an Inmate

Incarceration information can also be found online if the person arrested has spent any time in jail. You can find a federal inmate's information via the U. S. Department of Justice website at Justice.gov. On the homepage, click the link "Locate a Prison, Inmate, or Sex Offender." This will lead you to another link called "Federal Inmate Locator." Click on it and type in the name of the incarcerated person. You can also search for an inmate by using the Bureau of Prisons register number if you have it.

If the person you're looking for is in a city or county jail, or in a state prison, look at the law enforcement website where the arrest took place to find the inmate. If there is an online portal that you can use to conduct your search, enter as much of the person's name that you know or an inmate number. A successful search will usually yield the inmate's full name, age, location, parole eligibility date, a possible bail amount and victim notification information.

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About the Author

Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.