How to Search Arrest Records for Anyone: The Ultimate Free Guide

Searching for someone’s arrest record is easier than you think. Arrest records are stored online, and checking someone’s criminal record is a common and legal thing to do.

Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about how to search arrest records for anyone, including how much it costs, where to look, and what information you need.

Man Performing Criminal Arrest Background History Search

Before You Start Searching Records

Before you perform a background check on someone, you need to consider the possible risks. As an employer or landlord, laws affect how you can perform a background check

Employers and Landlords: Consent Required

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires employers to follow certain procedures and obtain a job applicant’s written consent when ordering a criminal history check from a consumer reporting agency. This same law applies to landlords running a background check on potential tenants.

You need to inform the applicant that you are running a personal background check. You need to ensure the applicant understands that this background check will be used to make an important decision about the applicant’s future.

After receiving the applicant’s consent in writing, the employer or landlord can proceed with the background check.

Personal Background Checks: No Consent Required

The same laws do not apply if searching someone’s criminal record for personal reasons. It’s legal to check someone’s criminal record for personal reasons.

It’s legal to check a neighbor’s criminal record because you’re curious, for example. It’s also legal to check the marriage or divorce records of a coworker or boss. You can check if a child’s teacher or coach has a history of sexual offenses.

In these situations, consent should not be required. As long as you have a first and last name, you should be able to proceed with the background check without issue.

Step 1) Check Sex Offender Registries

Start by checking sex offender registries. These are the easiest registries to search. They’re wide open to the public, and anyone can check these records at no cost.

The federal government maintains a sex offender registry, as does each state. These registries are used to track and monitor individuals with previous sex offense convictions.

Each registry in the database will contain a photo of the individual. Depending on your state, you may also be able to see the type of crime committed, the date of the crime, the release date from prison, and other information.

Start by checking the Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website.

From that site, you can find the public sex offender registries for each state. You can search a specific jurisdiction, for example, or run a national search that checks all registries for a specific name.

Step 2) Check the Arrest Record Database for Your State

Each individual’s criminal record is available to the public. However, criminal records are not easy to find via Google.

In most cases, you need to make a request to your state’s Department of Public Safety for more information about a specific individual. Each state has slightly different rules governing how these requests work.

In some states, checking someone’s criminal record is easy.

Let’s say you want to check someone’s criminal record in Texas:

  • Visit the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Conviction Database here:
  • The database lists all arrests and prosecutions for misdemeanors and felonies committed in the state of Texas
  • Sign up for the database as a new user (choose an individual or company account)
  • Search the database by typing in the individual’s first and last name
  • Enter other identifying information to narrow search results

That’s it! Just like that, you can view misdemeanors and felonies committed in the state of Texas.

Most states have a similar system through the Department of Public Safety, although it may go by slightly different names.

Step 3) Repeat for Each State

If someone has committed crimes in multiple states, then you will need to run multiple criminal record searches through each state’s Department of Public Safety (or an equivalent agency).

Each state has a slightly different process. Generally, you sign up for the database, then run a search. Some states require you to pay a fee.

Step 4) Check County Records

For more information about specific crimes, or to check marriage and divorce records, you may need to run a county-level search.

Again, each county has a different process for checking records. Some counties actually require you to visit the county courthouse in person. Most counties, however, have some type of online or mail-based checkup service.

If you know the county in which someone lived, or the county where they committed a crime, then you can check that county’s records for further information. These records are not openly available to the public (say, via Google), but they are available to any member of the public upon request.

Some county and state criminal record databases charge a fee for accessing records. You may need to pay an administrative fee or delivery fee, for example.

Step 5) Use a Professional Criminal Record Search Service for Comprehensive, Instant Results

There are hundreds of professional criminal record search services available over the internet today.

Some criminal records are only available to government organizations or private agencies. Many of these search services also have special partnerships in place to secure the latest, most up-to-date criminal record information from national and state databases.

Without a professional search service, you may need to check each state and county individually to get someone’s complete record.

With a professional criminal record search service, you can provide just a name and learn a surprising amount of information about someone. The search service instantly checks millions of public records across the United States, saving you time and money.

Visit Check Criminal Record ( to run a complete criminal record check on anyone using just a first name and last name.