Searching for someone’s arrest history or arrest records online can be challenging, time-consuming, and frustrating. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy to use government websites and online resources that can help you get the job done.
Today, we’re explaining some of the best options for finding your own criminal record or arrest history, or finding someone else’s arrest history record, by using online sources.
Request Your Own Federal Records Through the FBI
The FBI lets anyone request arrest records – but you can only request your own. The FBI calls this your Identity History Summary, which is just fancy bureaucratic-speak for your criminal record. The FBI only allows you to request a copy of your own criminal record, and you will not be able to look at someone else’s federal criminal records during your search.
Why would you want to look up your own criminal record? Well, you may want to double check to make sure you know what’s on there – especially if you have a criminal past, if you’ve had records expunged, or if charges were dropped. You never know what could appear on your own record.
At the time of writing, the FBI’s processing time was 12 to 14 weeks. If you don’t have a federal criminal record or arrest record, then the FBI will send you proof that one does not exist.
Start requesting your federal criminal record from the FBI here.
You’ll need to jump through some hoops, like submitting your fingerprints and completing an application form. You’ll also need to pay the FBI $18, so it’s not quite free.
Check State & Federal Courthouses For Someone’s Arrest History Records
This is where things get a little more complicated: if you want to search arrest history records for someone else, then you can go to a local, state, or federal courthouse – ideally, the courthouse in the jurisdiction where the crime took place (or where you believe the crime took place). The records are almost always kept at the courthouse where the individual was tried.
Courthouses have a clerk of courts. A clerk of courts will be able to access someone’s criminal record provided you give them the information they need to retrieve that record.
That means you need to come prepared with the person’s name and birth date. The more information you have, the easier it will be to find someone’s record. Case numbers, the types of charges held against them, and and when the crime took place are all helpful information.
If the person committed crimes in multiple jurisdictions and was tried across multiple courthouses, then you may need to make a few trips or phone calls to get a complete record.
Using PACER Or NSOPW To Search Records
The US federal government maintains two public criminal record database websites anyone can view online. Those websites include the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database and the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW).
PACER lets the public view docket information from federal courts. You’ll need to register and use the individual’s information to search court records. PACER is not free, unfortunately, and you’ll need to pay fees to access certain records.
The NSOPW site, on the other hand, is perfectly free to use. You don’t even have to register. All you need to do is go to the homepage (or download the mobile app) and enter your zip code or area. You can also search using first name and last name.
Good Old Google Search
One of the weird online search tricks that can often be used to find someone’s criminal record is to type their first name and last name into Google followed by “mugshot”.
This works particularly well for high-profile cases or famous people with criminal records, but it can also turn up some surprising results for minor cases. It’s good to check if you’re looking for a free and easy option to search arrest history records.