How Do I Get a Copy of My Criminal Record?

A criminal record is the official record of any criminal offences that you have either been arrested and/or convicted of. Any criminal arrests and/or convictions will appear on your record if they have not been expunged. Depending on the agency that you are obtaining the criminal record from, it may also include any traffic violations.

Gather your personal information. Make sure you have all official documents such as a birth certificate, driver's license, passport, date of the offence(s) or arrest(s) and the case number.

Follow particular procedures in obtaining your record. It's always better to call ahead to where you will be requesting your record from and speak to a clerk about the specific procedure and requirements for getting your copy. Each courthouse, records department and state have different procedures. Before you start driving all over, know what you need and what you have to do first.

Go to the court where your case was handled, if possible. Each courthouse has a records department, and you can request your record there. If your case is older (usually more than 10 years), you'll have to contact the Department of Justice for that particular state. You can search your state's department of justice through a search engine or in a phone book. If you have offences in multiple states, you may need to do a separate request from each state or obtain your record from the FBI.

Be thorough on all details. Double-check all the information that you provided, make sure you have the proper fees, the correct address to mail the request (if not doing so in person), and anything else required by the department you are getting your records from.

Consider an online service. (A couple of options are in Resources below.) This is an option if you want to avoid going through the court system to get a copy of your records. These online services will provide you with a variety of choices and fee ranges, depending on what type of record you are requesting. For these services, you will usually only need your legal name, date of birth, place of birth and social security number. These records will usually also include any other public records information such as marriage licenses, civil cases, addresses on record and any property you own or have owned.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Alexis Scott has been writing since 2002. Contributing to various online publications, she authors a bi-weekly legal advice column for Scott is also a partner in a San Diego law firm, specializing in criminal, family and civil law. She attended the University of Nevada, Reno, and received her Juris Doctor from the Thomas Jefferson School of law.