How to find out if someone has an arrest record

Written by ashlyn etree
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Whether you are an employer, a landlord or a parent seeking childcare, you may have a legitimate reason to want to know someone's criminal history. There are several types of criminal records, including arrest records, criminal court records and corrections records. Arrest records are kept by law enforcement agencies following an initial arrest. Unfortunately, no simple all-encompassing, public access database exists. However, there are ways to find the information you seek.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Collect contact information on the person of interest, including first name and last name and complete address.

  2. 2

    Visit your county's clerk of courts to find out whether the person in question has an arrest record on file. Some county clerk's offices will conduct a criminal background check for a nominal fee. These background checks include a search of local arrest records and local criminal court records.

  3. 3

    Visit your state law enforcement agency's website. For a fee, many states offer a criminal background search that includes arrest records and criminal court records throughout the state.

  4. 4

    Register with an organisation that conducts criminal background searches, such as National Criminal Records or Background Checks. For a fee, these companies conduct nationwide criminal records searches.

  5. 5

    Search the Family Watch Dog website. Family Watch Dog is a national sex offender registry and is free to use. This registry only includes sexual offenders.

Tips and warnings

  • Although conducting a criminal background check is a wise decision, you may also want to speak with family and friends of the individual in question. Ask for references from previous employers or landlords.
  • It is important to ask how many years past the search includes. Sometimes a search will only go back five to seven years.
  • You will not have access to any criminal record that has been expunged or sealed by a judge.
  • While you may think you have conducted a comprehensive background check, there are so many separate databases for criminal records it is possible to miss a critical piece of information. Never rely solely on a criminal background check. Trust your own observations and instincts.
  • The criminal background search organisations mentioned in this article are provided for your convenience. When selecting a service provider, it is wise to compare and conduct research on several different companies before making your selection.

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