How to Search for Free Public Arrest Records

By Karina C. Hernandez - Updated April 21, 2017

A concerned family member or the victim of an arrestee can check various resources to obtain up-to-date arrest information. To obtain free public arrest records, use online, phone and mobile options offered by the arresting law enforcement agency or a third party. You can also check with a bail bond agent. Some options require you to register your personal information. You typically must know the full name of the arrestee and possibly the address, as well, to search for an arrest record.

Check With Law Enforcement

Arresting officers usually send information on the arrest directly to their station even before booking occurs. You may not be able to immediately access all details about the arrest until after the booking process or possibly after a hearing, which can take 24 to 48 hours from the time of arrest. For example, you may not be able to immediately find out if a bail amount has been set because a judge may have to make that determination. If the arrest involved a misdemeanor crime, the bail is usually set at the time of arrest; other details may be available sooner.

Search Online

Most law enforcement agencies offer free public access to arrest records on their websites. A search engine query of your city, the law enforcement agency that carried out the arrest and the keywords, "arrest records" will likely navigate you to a government webpage where you can begin your search for free. Pay close attention to the website address to ensure you are viewing a government page, as many third-party websites provide arrest information, but for a fee. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department offers a database called "Who's in Jail" to provide the public with the arrest information of individuals who have been booked into county jail.

You can also call the arresting law enforcement agency, jail or other facility that handled the booking. A department within the agency or facility is specifically designated to handle the dissemination of arrest information. You might try search engine queries for "jails," "phone number" and "arrest information" to obtain contact information for the jails nearest you or those in the area where the arrest took place.

Third Parties Provide Details

Third-party companies also offer free arrest information online and via a free mobile app to registrants. VINE, a victim notification network that services the public and law enforcement agencies, allows you to call a toll-free number, check online at the VINE website or use your mobile device to obtain alerts about an arrestee. Registration is free and confidential, and you can use the mobile app anonymously to check arrest status and changes to case information.

A bail bond company, or bondsman, can also provide current information about an arrest. Call or visit a bail bond office at virtually any hour on any day to inquire about an arrest. Bail agents are typically located within close proximity of jails and help the public access arrest information for free in an effort to determine bail and get the arrestee out of jail quickly. Go to a bail bond company located near the booking facility, if you know it, or within the community or city where the arrest took place.

About the Author

K.C. Hernandez has covered real estate topics since 2009. She is a licensed real estate salesperson in San Diego since 2004. Her articles have appeared in community newspapers but her work is mostly online. Hernandez has a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and works as the real estate expert for Demand Media Studios.

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