How Can I Find Out Arrest Records for Free?

By Vaughnlea Leonard - Updated April 12, 2017
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An arrest record is the form law enforcement personnel fill out when they arrest someone. Archived arrest records go back decades. Some people are interested in arrest records, for example, those of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks, for historical purposes. Others have used arrest records to exonerate people who have been falsely accused of crimes or arrested under questionable circumstances. The Internet is a good place to start searching current and archival sources of arrest records.

Go Online

Begin your search locally with an online county clerk database. The Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County, for example, has a criminal records search site at lasuperiorcourt.org/criminal. Choose the link at the top-left of the webpage that reads "LAECourtOnline." Wait for the new page to open. Click on the "Criminal Defendant Index" link. Press the "Continue" button just below the price table. Some arrest records cost about $4, while others are free. Some counties don't charge anything for arrest records.

Go to the Police Station

Get copies of arrest affidavits at a police station. Many county, city and town law enforcement agencies won't charge for copies of reports by arresting officers. Try city sources, like the daily police blotter, the the quickest, simplest way to get short or brief arrest information. A blotter is a list of those arrested that gives their names and addresses and what they were arrested for. Remember that an arrest affidavit, or arrest record, is different than a blotter. Affidavits detail the circumstances of an arrest, the place the time, for example. Some also have witness statements. Use the personal information in a blotter to find an arrest record on your county clerk's website. Cross-reference information via multiple sources to ensure accuracy.

Use Law Enforcement Public Resources

Many states offer resources to find arrest records. New York, for example, provides the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services site. Click the link entitled "Sex Offenders" at the top of the page. The site includes a public registry database of sex offenders. Enter your search information and then press the "Search" button. Opt for other agency information by clicking the links at the far right-hand side of the page. Click on "Resource Links."

Use Other Online Resources

Blackbook Online is an investigator database. Choose a state link or click on one of the many links including county public records, sex offenders and criminal records. Check out the site's multiple sources for arrest records.

Alternatively, find historical records of arrests on the FBI's archival site. Scroll down the page and look for the "Researchers" link on the left side of the page. Click on it and wait for another page to open. Click on the link "Find FBI Records at the National Archives." Type in "Arrest Records" to the left of the "Go" button at the top of the page. Hit "Enter."

Resources

About the Author

Vaughnlea Leonard started her professional writing and editing career in 2005. Her work has appeared in "Press Journal," "Atlantic Publishing Company" and "Hometown News and Florida Today." A former military police enlistee and Florida certified educator, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Florida.

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