How to find out someone's arrest history

Updated April 17, 2017

There are many reasons why you may wish to find out about a person's criminal history. You may be an employer and wish to find out about a prospective employee, or you may be thinking of doing business with someone and wish to check them out, or you may have had an encounter with someone that you feel may have a criminal record. Whatever the reason, it is fairly easy these days to obtain a person's criminal records for free or for a small investment.

Find out in what state or city the person has lived in for the past 10 years. Having the street address is best, but you don't absolutely need it. You maybe able to find the persons address by using a free or paid service online that locates people.

Go to the state's official website to see if it has a page where you can do a criminal records check. If not, it may have information where you can direct a request. Once you have accessed the right page and have the correct information, check on their historical records including, probation, parole and incarceration information. Some states will charge a fee for this service.

Criminal records can also be accessed in government agencies, such as the Dept of Justice and at the Superior Courthouse. You may need to sign a statement of release depending upon the state you are requesting the record from. It will generally take two to five days to get the documents requested. You may also be able to do this online as many government agencies have websites where you can fill out the release form or just order the records.

The most widely used method is to check the criminal court records at the county level. In some cases depending upon the county, felony and misdemeanour records are maintained in a combined index, in others they can be checked separately.

You can also use a reputable online service that uses private investigators to assist with your search that will offer a guarantee such as (see resource). You may wish to use an online company that is free, but do note the warning below if you do.


If you do use an online company it is also best to do your own statewide search to verify the information you receive.


Please note that some statewide searches do not provide the complete history for misdemeanours or felonies. There are also some commercial public records vendors that say they will provide you with a statewide criminal record, but actually only give you the inmate record. Also note that both free and paid criminal searches offered on the web may not provide you with the most current information.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet
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