Arrest records have always been public, but were often difficult to obtain. These days criminal records in New York are stored in online databases and can be acquired within minutes for a nominal fee or for free. Such accessibility makes it easy to check the criminal history of potential employees, babysitters, neighbors and even blind dates. You can also search for your own arrest records — a smart idea if you have ever been the victim of identity theft.
Obtain the name and estimated age of the individual you would like to investigate. The more identifying information you have on your target, the better. At a minimum, you should have the person's first and last name. It is also important to have the correct spelling; otherwise, you can receive information on the wrong person. Having the estimated age will also help you correctly identify the records when there are several people that have the same name as your target person. Knowing the middle initial or the current address of your target will increase the chances of making an accurate match as well.
Select an online database to conduct your search. Numerous online databases provide criminal information, but not all databases offer the same information. For example, if you would like to know if an adult has ever served jail time in New York, then search the New York State Department of Correctional Services. If you would like to know if the person has been arrested for a sexual offense, check the New York State Sex Offender Registry. You can perform a basic criminal search through Intelius.com.
Search for arrest records offline. Although this method generally takes a bit longer and costs more, the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) will conduct a New York statewide criminal history record search for $55. To conduct this search, you will need the exact name of the person and the exact date of birth. The OCA will search the public records of all 62 New York counties, and provide you with any information regarding pending felonies or misdemeanors committed by the individual you are investigating.
If you are having a difficult time obtaining an arrest record or if the information you receive is incomplete, you may need to hire a private investigator. According to Howtoinvestigate.com, online database information may be incomplete, as not all counties maintain their criminal records on a database.