Arrest Guide

What is an arrest record? How long will this be available to the public? Can anybody look this information up? Where do I go to find somebody else's arrest record?

An arrest record is basically a log of all arrests that you have been apprehended for. This includes charges when you may have been detained and later found not guilty.

For this reason employers will not generally even consider an arrest record - they are more interested in your conviction record. Some employers may ask if you have any pending charges (and these can be used in most states as a reason not to hire you if the charges are relevant to the job you are applying to).

Vary state-to-state
Laws concerning accessibility to arrest records vary state-to-state. If you do have an arrest showing up on your record you may be able to have it removed through the process of expungement. If you are able to successfully secure an expungement then all traces of your arrest should be removed from public record - even a mugshot that might show up on a public website.

Note that an expungement does not remove your arrest record completely - while it is not accessible by the public, some government agencies will still have access to it (and it can be used against you if you reoffend).

How to find somebody's arrest record
If you live in an area that posts booking photos online you can always try searching for somebody's name. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes these sites restrict the time period that they will show the booking photos for.

For instance, if somebody was arrested five years ago and the website only shows the last four years of bookings then you won't find what you're looking for. In this situation you should call the county clerk.

Another options is just to do a background search - this will be much more comprehensive because you won't have to call all of the county clerk's for the areas that you suspect somebody may have been arrested in.

How long will this information be available to the public?
If you are worried about people finding your arrest record you really should talk to an attorney about having it expunged. Until it is legally cleared from your record it is technically part of the public record, which means anybody can look it up.

Just because it is public record, however, doesn't mean it will be easy to access. For instance, people may have to either call the clerk or even go down to the courthouse to go through old arrest records. This can take a lot of time and is usually only done by the press.