How to Get a Copy of a Rap Sheet

By Roger Thorne J.D.
Criminal histories are established whenever you are arrested or charged with a crime.

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A person's criminal history, also known as a rap sheet, specifies the person's involvement with the criminal justice system. Every jurisdiction with a criminal court keeps records about prior cases and convictions. Putting together a person's rap sheet requires you to search any jurisdiction where the person has lived or was charged with a crime.This is sometimes easy to do, especially if the person has lived in the same place for a long time. It can be much more difficult if the person has moved frequently.

Collect vital history information. You need specific information before you can find a person's criminal history, including the person's birth date, legal name and current and past addresses. Juvenile criminal history records are generally not available to the public, so focus on dates and addresses since the person turned 18.

Go to the state's website once you've identified the state or states in which the person lived. Visit that state's website and search for criminal history reports or criminal background reports. Each state collects and disseminates this information differently, so you'll have to research them individually. For example, Kansas allows people to conduct a criminal background check through the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Contact the county courthouse where the person lived and ask the clerk of the criminal court how to access information. For example, the Johnson County Kansas District Courthouse maintains an online database you can search for criminal records by the case number or the person's first, last or business name.

Hire a private investigator or background service. While you can search for a person's criminal history yourself, you can use an online service such as publicrecordssearchonline.org, or contact a private investigator to do the search for you. These options are attractive when you don't have the time or don't have the vital information about the person.

About the Author

Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.

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