How to Find Public Arrest Records

By Andrea Griffith - Updated March 20, 2017
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Many legal records are available to the general public, including those pertaining to marriage licenses, divorces, lawsuits and the conviction records of criminals. When someone is arrested and charged with a crime, that information usually is accessible. However, finding these documents and records can be a challenge if you don't know how or where to look. Several sources can supply the information if you know the arrested person's full name and the city, county and state in which they were arrested.

Visit the Federal Bureau of Prisons website. Click on "Inmate/Find an Inmate." Type in either the inmate's identification number or provide his first and last name. To aid in the search, also include their race, sex, age and middle name if you know them. Click "Search." View or request the person's public arrest record.

Contact the attorney general's office in the state where the arrest was made. A representative can assist you in obtaining the arrest records.

Search the National Sex Offender Registry maintained by the US Department of Justice. If the person has been convicted of illegal sexual conduct, you can find him on the website. The FBI also has a sex offender registry page that lists offenders by state and includes websites maintained by individual jurisdictions.

Contact the county court or jail where the person's arrest was recorded. You can request the arrest records in person or ask that they be mailed to you. You may have to pay a fee.

File a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request through the US Department of Justice. Because arrest records are available to the public, you can request they be mailed to you by using the FOIA as authorization. Typically, you are charged a fee per printed page.

About the Author

Andrea Griffith has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published by the "Western Herald," Detroit WDIV, USAToday and other print, broadcast and online publications. Although she writes about a wide range of topics, her areas of expertise include fashion, beauty, technology and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Western Michigan University.

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